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Nobel Prize to Sholokhov!

10.12.2020

55 years ago, on December 10, 1965, the ceremony of awarding the Nobel Prize to the Russian writer Mikhail Sholokhov took place. The ceremony was at the Concert House in the center of Stockholm. 

On this day, at 11 o'clock, a rehearsal was held for the laureates, at which the whole procedure for the solemn event was discussed. At 3.30 pm, Mikhail Sholokhov and his family left the hotel for the Concert House. The appearance of the laureate and family members fully corresponded to the solemn event - men in tailcoats, ladies in evening dresses. Maria Sholokhova in a long evening dress looked very impressive. The Swedish newspaper “Stockholms-Tiedningen” reported about the Sholokhovs' daughters: “Russian women have a special charm and do not need any kind of gilding from cosmetics. Maria is beautifully built, with a bunch of golden hair, it seemed like a folk song, next to her sister Svetlana in an elegant dress... ” At the entrance to the Concert House there was cinema, photo reporters, many spectators. In the large ceremonial hall, in accordance with the protocol, the laureates and guests gathered 10 minutes before the appearance of the Swedish king Gustav VI Adolf. At exactly 4.30 pm, the king and members of the royal family appeared in the hall. After the opening speech of the Vice-Chairman of the Nobel Foundation, the presentation of the laureates, the presentation of medals and diplomas began. TV broadcasts from the Concert House were conducted to 13 European countries, newsreels of the Nobel celebrations were sent by plane to the USA, Japan and other countries. 

Already in the 1930s, many European newspapers expressed opinions that the novel by Mikhail Sholokhov "And Quiet Flows the Don" deserves the Nobel Prize. The official nomination of a writer was for the first time in 1947. The writer was nominated for the award by the Swedish literary critic Henri Ohlsson, but the academy decides to postpone. In 1948-1960 the nomination of the writer is systematically repeated  by various individuals and organizations - the Nobel Committee itself (1948), professor of Slavic studies at the University of Helsinki Valentin Kiparsky (1950), Russian writer-academic Sergei Tsensky (1954), Norwegian philologist Johannes Andress Dale (1956), Swiss linguist André Bonnard (1956), chairman of the Swedish Pen Club, poet Johannes Edfelt (1958), Swedish writer Harry Martinson (1961), Jena professor of linguistics Henryk Becker (1962), professor at Stanford University (USA) Jack A. Posin (1963) John Stephenson Spink, Professor of the Department of French Language and Literature, Bedford College, University of London (1964). In the same 1964, on January 27, the Swedish Academy received a telegram on Sholokhov's nomination as a candidate for the Nobel Prize, signed by Konstantin Fedin, Ivan Anisimov, Viktor Vinogradov, Leonid Leonov, Nikolai Konrad, Alexei Surkov, Mikhail Khrapchenko, Alexander Tvarkov. According to the existing regalia, everyone had the right to nominate candidates for the Nobel Prize. Another separate telegram was sent by Ivan Anisimov, director of the Institute of World Literature named after Maxim Gorky of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, it arrived on January 30. The texts of the nominations, signed by the Secretaries of Soviet Writers Konstantin Fedin, Leonid Leonov, Alexander Tvardovsky, Alexei Surkov (first text), as well as members of the USSR Academy of Sciences - Ivan Anisimov, Mikhail Khrapchenko, Nikolai Konrad and Viktor Vinogradov (second text) - according to their term arrivals by mail ended up in the nominations folder for 1965. An expert essay on the nominee was again presented by Nils Oke Nilsson, who summed up that “Sholokhov is not worthy of the Nobel Prize - he has long been internationally recognized, we are talking about his glorification as a writer who expressed an ideal with his work, since he reflects the goals with his work and the tasks of the communist party”. In this assessment, the unwillingness to give a well-deserved award to the Soviet writer was clearly traced. However, their essays were presented by the "state librarian" of the Swedish Academy Uno Villers and Swedish writer Erik Mesterton, who emphasized the unconditional talent of Mikhail Sholokhov and a clear instruction from Alfred Nobel to present the prize to “the worthiest candidate”, regardless of his political, religious and other affiliations. 

In his response speech at the ceremony, Mikhail Sholokhov expressed his satisfaction with the recognition of Soviet literature: “I am proud that this prize has been awarded to a Russian, Soviet writer. I represent here a large group of writers from my Country". 

The days in Sweden were filled with all kinds of meetings and events. After the ceremony of presenting diplomas and gold medals to the laureates, a ball in honor of the Nobel laureates took place. The next day, December 11, after visiting the Scandinavian Bank, where Mikhail Sholokhov was handed a check for 282,000 Swedish kronor, the writer went to dinner with His Majesty King Gustav VI Adolf of Sweden. On December 12 the writer attended an evening organized by the Sweden-USSR friendship society. On December 13, he met with students and teachers of the Faculty of Slavic Studies at Uppsala University, and in the evening Mikhail Sholokhov attended the traditional Swedish celebration of the coronation of Lucia, the 1965 beauty queen chosen by the Swedes. The writer was entrusted with placing a golden crown with lighted candles on the head of a chosen contestant. During these December days Mikhail Sholokhov met with the Swedish writer Margaret Syuber. The Swedes unanimously noted the openness and sincerity of the writer during numerous meetings, a sense of humor for communication.

 

 

Lydia Slyusarenko