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Tolkein rejected for the Nobel prize

Released documents reveal the Nobel jury's criticism of author's prose
Jack Andrews on Monday 16th January 2012
Photograph: Joshua Harvey

Newly released papers have revealed that former Oxford Professor J.R.R. Tolkein was considered for the Nobel prize for Literature, but rejected as not worthy of such an award.

Tolkein was nominated for the award by his friend and fellow professor C.S. Lewis, and made the shortlist of 50 authors. However the prize jury are recorded as remarking that Tolkein’s prose did “not in any way measure up to storytelling of the highest quality.”

Former Oxford student Graham Greene was also eventually rejected by the jury, whilst the “advanced years” of Robert Frost and E.M. Forster prevented them from being recognised. Referring to Frost, the jury declared that his age was “a fundamental obstacle which the committee regretfully found it necessary to state.”

The award was eventually presented to Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andric. The panel praised him for “the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country.”

Oxford student Andrea Jansson responded to the dismissal of Tolkein’s  writing credentials in support of the Nobel jury. She told Cherwell, “It wasn’t his prose that was good, it was his ideas.”

However Brasenose second year Amy Rollason responded, “His work is loved by many, and I don’t think the Nobel snub is necessarily representative.” She went on, “What could admittedly be seen as tedium and overwriting on Tolkein’s part, seems to me to be a deep devotion to the world he created, and story he wanted to tell.”

Fellow Brasenose student Claire Cornish added, “I don’t really know anything about Tolkein’s writing. But for what it’s worth, I strongly believe that anyone whose work brought together Viggo Mortensen, Orlando Bloom and that hot Rohan guy in one film, deserves the highest accolades that society can offer.”

The considerations of the Nobel committee remain secret until fifty years after the award is made.

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