The Opposite of Oblivion: How Does Attaining the Nobel Prize Affect Productivity?

The topic so far is merely a question in my head, and there are things too that I am uncertain about, such as whether this fits under writing or literature…

But what I hope for someone to explore is precisely what does the attainment or possession of the coveted position bode for the future of the writer? For many authors, the Nobel Prize in Literature is the ultimate, if not the most significant and most revered, position one can attain. It is a validation of one’s place in history, a literal title that translates into the opposite of oblivion, instead, it is the acknowledgment that one has made great contributions to the development of literature, whose legacy will be set in stone and whose name will not be so easily forgotten.

In many of our minds, the awarding of the Nobel Prize comes late in the author’s life: it is the crowning achievement of decades of hard, continuous work, the culmination and recognition of multiple published books, and the result of authorial evolution, progress, and contribution.

My question then is, what happens after?
Has this recognition amplified their prior productivity? Or stunted it? Does winning the prize make the writer take a step back from their typewriter and say, "this is it, there is no more need for anything else", or does it motivate them to continue the work they have begun, only stopping when they finally pass?

Jean-Paul Sartre, who famously declined the Prize in 1964, continued working tirelessly on his "Critique of Dialectical Reason" until his passing. William Faulkner (who also hated the fame that the Prize brought), after winning it in 1949, wrote two landmark works after, A Fable (1954) and The Reivers (1962).

There aren’t many examples of writers who have continued their intensity of producing works after the awarding of the Prize, but anyone who takes up this topic could look at those who did, the nature of the works after the winning of the Prize, and whether the attainment of this revered position has positively or negatively influenced the legacy of the writers.

  • I think this is a really interesting, if not intriguing, topic! Perhaps giving some thought to contentious Nobel Prize winners might be also worth a look too - for example, Bob Dylan winning the 2016 Literature prize. Or the most recent Literature winner, Kazuro Ishiguro in 2017? What predictions could or might be made about the more recent winners? It might be worth seeing various people's opinions (or news articles) about the "prestige" of the Noble Prize, and whether or not it is really the true test of an author's ability, or just an excuse to give assumed prestige and an award. – lucyviolets 6 years ago

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