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Pär Lagerkvist, Barabbas and the Nobel Prize for Literature

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Barabbas (1950) and the Nobel Prize of 1951 made Pär Lagerkvist—for a while—world-famous. In this article, I give an account of what the rapid and considerable success of Barabbas involved and how this commercial success also considerably increased Lagerkvist’s chances of winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. His name had already been mentioned several years running, but it took courage to award the prize yet again to a Scandinavian writer, let alone to a Swede who was also one of the Swedish Academy’s own members. How this problem affected the preliminary discussions, together with reactions in the press, and how the members of the Swedish Academy’s Nobel committee argued round this sensitive question, are subjected to a comprehensive analysis.

Affiliations: 1: University of Gothenburg


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