Mahfouz Wins the Nobel Prize in Literature (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Recognition of the literary importance of Naguib Mahfouz’s fifty-year career marked the first time a Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to a writer in Arabic.
Summary of Event
The announcement in the fall of 1988 that the Nobel Prize in Literature was being awarded to the Egyptian writer Naguib Mahfouz may have appeared to be a turning point in the history of the Nobel Prize program, as very few literature laureates during the previous decades had come from non-Western countries. The earliest, in 1913, had been awarded to the Indian Rabindranath Tagore. In the period from 1918 to 1945, all literature prizes had gone either to Europeans or to Americans. The next quarter of a century saw awards to authors from South America, Israel, and Japan, but it was not until 1986 that the first African, Wole Soyinka, was so honored. Two years later, Naguib Mahfouz became the first author from the African continent writing in Arabic to become a Nobel laureate in literature.
For Mahfouz himself, however, international recognition of his work represented more than the culmination of several decades of personal literary application. It encouraged him and others in many different parts of the world to believe that recognition of the universality of human values and emotions had made intercontinental strides.
Mahfouz’s own elaboration of the way in which his career developed, recorded in an...
(The entire section is 1925 words.)
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