Lawrence Durrell was shortlisted for the 1962 Nobel Prize for Literature, alongside Robert Graves and John Steinbeck; however the judges ultimately chose Steinbeck, according to recently-opened archives in Sweden.
According to the Daily Telegraph:
The records, which were first reported in Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet, show the names of the 66 authors nominated, the shortlist and the judges comments on them. The latter suggests 1962 was a tough year in literary recognition for all the wrong reasons.
A Nobel committee member recorded, “There aren’t any obvious candidates for the Nobel prize and the prize committee is in an unenviable situation.”
Graves was rejected for being a poet first and a novelist second. The committee were unwilling to award a poet before Ezra Pound’s death as they believed his skill was unbeatable, although his politics cost him the prize.
Durrell had been nominated the previous year but had lost out because his work “gives a dubious aftertaste…because of [his] monomaniacal preoccupation with erotic complications.”
- Swedish Academy reopens controversy surrounding Steinbeck’s Nobel prize (guardian.co.uk)
- No Wrath, but Some Discontent, When Nobel Prize Was Awarded to Steinbeck (artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com)