Readersforum's Blog

January 9, 2012

JRR Tolkien’s Nobel prize chances dashed by ‘poor prose’

JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings appendix "Born of Hope" being filmed in 2008. Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty

Lord of the Rings author, nominated by CS Lewis, rejected by 1961 jury, newly opened archive reveals

By Alison Flood

The Lord of the Rings might have spawned a thousand pallid imitations, been crowned the UK’s best-loved book and sold millions of copies around the world, but according to newly declassified documents, it was damned by the Nobel prize jury on the grounds of JRR Tolkien’s second-rate prose.

The mysterious workings of the Nobel committee remain a secret until 50 years after the award is made, when the archive for that year is opened in the Nobel library in Stockholm. Swedish reporter Andreas Ekström delved into 1961’s previously classified documents on their release this week, to find the jury passed over names including Lawrence Durrell, Robert Frost, Graham Greene, EM Forster and Tolkien to come up with their eventual winner, Yugoslavian writer Ivo Andrić.

While Andrić was lauded for “the epic force with which he has traced themes and depicted human destinies drawn from the history of his country”, other nominated writers received shorter shrift from the Nobel committee, Ekström revealed in Swedish newspaper Sydsvenska Dagbladet.

The prose of Tolkien – who was nominated by his friend and fellow fantasy author CS Lewis – “has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality”, wrote jury member Anders Österling. Frost, on the other hand, was dismissed because of his “advanced age” – he was 86 at the time – with the jury deciding the American poet’s years were “a fundamental obstacle, which the committee regretfully found it necessary to state”. Forster was also ruled out for his age – a consideration that no longer bothers the jury, which awarded the prize to the 87-year-old Doris Lessing in 2007 – with Österling calling the author “a shadow of his former self, with long lost spiritual health”.

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August 31, 2011

Madonna’s Sex most sought after out-of-print book

Madonna's Sex most sought after out-of-print book

Explicit coffee-table title continues to be in hot demand, according to Bookfinder research.

By Alison Flood

Madonna’s explicit book Sex is once again America’s most sought after out-of-print title of the year, according to BookFinder’s annual report.

The graphic coffee-table book, featuring – in the words of BookFinder, “photos of the Material Girl, without the material” – has been one of the most popular out-of-print titles in the US for years and a collector’s item since it was first published in 1992. “Since Madonna is never one to do something twice, and the fact that the once highly controversial book is less edgy than it once was leads us to guess that Sex will remain out of print,” predicted the book search engine, a subsidiary of AbeBooks, last year.

BookFinder has tracked the most searched for out-of-print titles in America over the last 12 months for its annual report, which sees romantic suspense author Nora Roberts’s novel Promise Me Tomorrow come in second.

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