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Tolstoy did not win the first Nobel Prize for a reason

    Another year of Nobel Prize award season has passed. Recalling that when the Nobel Prize was first established and awarded, Leo Tolstoy, the Russian literary giant, was still alive. At that time, his literary achievements had already been widely recognized by the world, but he did not win the award.

   The Swedish inventor Nobel died in 1896, and the first literary prize was awarded in 1901. During this period of time, the selection of winners in Sweden has been going on.

   Finally, in December 1901, among a motley crew of candidates, the French poet Sully Prudhomme won. This caused controversy, and famous writers Strindberg and Lagerloff (the latter won the 1909 Nobel Prize for Literature) and 43 other writers and artists signed a letter to Tolstoy expressing their support.

   The Swedish Academy was often embarrassed when it first started awarding the prize because Nobel's will limited the "literary prize" to "the most eminent work of idealistic tendencies". Prudhomme's award, this point has also been particularly emphasized. In addition, there is a restriction in the will that the bonus should be allocated to "those who have bestowed the greatest benefit on mankind in the previous year", which also excludes writers who have created important works before.

   These two restrictions made many celebrities in the world literary world lose the election. Tolstoy may have been finally excluded by these two restrictions, although he himself did not particularly care about them. He replied to letters from his supporters: "I am very glad that the Nobel Prize was not awarded to me... It would be difficult for me to have this prize, which in my opinion is no different from other money that can only produce evil." The view on money was consistent in Tolstoy's later years.

   Later, the Nobel Prize in Literature revised these two restrictions. The time has been relaxed, and the concept of "idealistic tendency" is now interpreted in a broad sense, based more on its spirit than on its words.



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