STOCKHOLM (Oct. 20)
Shmuel Yossef Agnon, Israel’s leading Hebrew writer, and Miss Nelly Sachs, a Jewish poet, novelist and playwright, who fled Nazi Germany to settle in Sweden, were named today as join winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Not only were they the first Jewish writers to receive what is regarded as the world’s most distinguished literary award, but they also were both chosen for their portrayals of the struggles of the Jewish people. The writers, who have never met, will share the $60,000 cash prize which goes with the honor.
The citation for the Hebrew author said he was given the Nobel Prize for his “profoundly characteristic narrative, used to convey motifs of Jewish life.” The citation to Miss Sachs said she was honored for “outstanding lyrical writing which interprets Israel’s destiny with touching strength.”
Mr. Agnon, 78, lives modestly in a suburb of Jerusalem. Miss Sachs, 75, lives in Stockholm.
(Mr. Agnon, who has twice previously been nominated for the Nobel Prize, said in Jerusalem that he probably would not go to Stockholm to accept the award because “my doctors won’t let me.” He added he was happy about the award because” the Jews will have to start taking an interest in me.”)
Born in Galicia, Mr. Agnon emigrated to Palestine in 1908. His many books range in theme from 17th Century pogroms in Poland to modern life in Israel. He has written much about life in Jaffa in the period before World War I, and about Jerusalem after World War II. His admirers believe he has caught in his writings, all in Hebrew, the feeling of the Jewish dream which changed the ancient homeland of the Jews into the modern state of Israel. Some of his books, included “Two Gales,” and “In the Heart of the Seas,” have been translated into English, German and 14 other languages. His Hebrew style has been described by critics as both inimitable and immensely appealing.
Miss Sachs, widely known in Europe as a novelist, poet and dramatist, has won some of the Continent’s leading literary awards. Her works are in German. One of the best known is a novel, “Flight and Change,” published in 1959, which deals with the plight of the Jews under Hitler. She too has been a strong candidate for the Nobel prize for many years.