1956 Nobel Prize in Literature
Juan Ramón Jiménez
"for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity."
  • 25 October 1956 (announcement)
  • 10 December 1956
LocationStockholm, Sweden
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
← 1955 · Nobel Prize in Literature · 1957 →

The 1956 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to the Spanish poet Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881–1958) "for his lyrical poetry, which in Spanish language constitutes an example of high spirit and artistical purity"[1] He is the third Spanish recipient of the prize after the dramatist Jacinto Benavente in 1922.


Main article: Juan Ramón Jiménez

Juan Ramón Jiménez belonged to the literary movement called modernismo. His early poetry was inspired by German romanticism and French symbolism that is visual and full of imagery and predominated by the colors yellow and green. Then he later turned to poetic prose in which the color white predominates; this is clearly evident in Diario de un poeta recién casado ("Diary of a Recently Married Poet", 1917). Jimenez worked as a poet, literary critic and editor of a literary magazine. Among his famous poem collections include Platero y yo ("Platero and I", 1956), Piedra y cielo ("Stones and Sky", 1919), and Voces de mi copla ("Voices of My Song", 1945)[2]



Jiménez was first nominated in 1952 before being awarded the 1956 Nobel Prize in Literature. Each year he received a single nomination, summing up to 5 nominations in all. His last nomination was made by the Swedish academy member, Harry Martinson.[3]

In total, the Nobel committee received 158 nominations for 44 writers. Among the nominees include Graham Greene, Nikos Kazantzakis, André Malraux, Albert Camus (awarded in 1957), Zalman Shneour, Johan Falkberget, Ezra Pound, and Giuseppe Ungaretti. The most nominations were for Ramón Menéndez Pidal with 95 nominations, but was not awarded. Seventeen of the nominees were nominated first-time including Henry de Montherlant, Jorge Luis Borges, Marcel Pagnol, Gabriel Marcel, Gonzague de Reynold, Pablo Neruda (awarded in 1971), and Jules Supervielle. Four of the nominees were women: Melpo Axioti, Elizabeth Goudge, Marthe Bibesco, and Karen Blixen.[4]

The authors Pío Baroja, Devorah Baron, Edmund Clerihew Bentley, Louis Bromfield, Carlos Bulosan, Ion Călugăru, Owen Davis, Alexander Fadeyev, Sheila Kaye-Smith, Yakub Kolas, Paul Léautaud, Louis Madelin, Henry Louis Mencken, Alan Alexander Milne, Leonora Speyer, Michael Ventris, Samad Vurgun, and Robert Walser died in 1956 without having been nominated for the prize. German playwright Bertolt Brecht died before the only chance to be rewarded.

Official list of nominees and their nominators for the prize
No. Nominee Country Genre(s) Nominator(s)
1 Mark Aldanov (1886–1957)  Soviet Union
( Ukraine)
biography, novel, essays, literary criticism Samson Soloveitchik (1887–1974)
2 Melpo Axioti (1905–1973)  Greece novel, short story, poetry André Bonnard (1888–1959)
3 Eugène Baie (1874–1964)  Belgium law, essays
4 Gottfried Benn (1886–1956)  Germany poetry, essays Ernst Alker (1895–1972)
5 Marthe Bibesco (1886–1973)  Romania
novel, poetry, memoir
6 Karen Blixen (1885–1962)  Denmark novel, short story, memoir
7 Jorge Luis Borges (1899–1986)  Argentina poetry, essays, translation, short story René Étiemble (1909–2002)
8 Henri Bosco (1888–1976)  France novel, short story Raymond Las Vergnas (1902–1994)
9 Bertolt Brecht (1898–1956)  Germany drama, screenplay, poetry, novel, essays André Bonnard (1888–1959)
10 Albert Camus (1913–1960)  France
( Algeria)
novel, short story, essays, philosophy, drama
  • Bo Bergman (1869–1967)
  • Birger Ekeberg (1880–1968)
11 Hans Carossa (1878–1956)  Germany poetry, autobiography, essays Maurice Le Boucher (1882–1964)
12 Francesco Chiesa (1871–1973)   Switzerland poetry, short story, essays
13 Henry de Montherlant (1895–1972)  France essays, novel, drama Henri Morier (1910–2004)
14 Gonzague de Reynold (1880–1970)   Switzerland history, essays, biography, memoir Pierre-Henri Simon (1903–1972)
15 Georges Duhamel (1884–1966)  France novel, short story, poetry, drama, literary criticism
  • Jean Carrière (1928–2005)
  • Pierre Jourda (1898–1978)
  • Odette Bornand (1924–2009)
  • Jacqueline Duchemin (1910–1988)
  • M. Ricci (?)
16 Johan Falkberget (1879–1967)  Norway novel, short story, essays Harald Beyer (1891–1960)
17 Lion Feuchtwanger (1884–1958)  Germany novel, drama Walter Arthur Berendsohn (1884–1984)
18 Edward Morgan Forster (1879–1970)  United Kingdom novel, short story, drama, essays, biography, literary criticism Pierre Legouis (1891–1973)
19 Christopher Fry (1907–2005)  United Kingdom poetry, drama, screenplay Werner Kohlschmidt (1904–1983)
20 Graham Greene (1904–1991)  United Kingdom novel, short story, autobiography, essays
21 Armand Godoy (1880–1964)  Cuba
poetry, translation Antonio Iraizoz Villar (1890–1976)
22 Elizabeth Goudge (1900–1984)  United Kingdom novel, short story, biography, autobiography Edmond Privat (1889–1962)
23 Jean Guitton (1901–1999)  France philosophy, theology Édouard Delebecque (1910–1990)
24 Juan Ramón Jiménez (1881–1958)  Spain poetry, novel Harry Martinson (1904–1978)
25 Ernst Jünger (1895–1998)  Germany philosophy, novel, memoir Maurice Le Boucher (1882–1964)
26 Nikos Kazantzakis (1883–1957)  Greece novel, philosophy, essays, drama, memoir, translation
  • Samuel Baud-Bovy (1906–1986)
  • Johannes Andreasson Dale (1898–1975)
  • Society of Men of Letters of Greece
27 André Malraux (1901–1976)  France novel, essays, literary criticism
28 Gabriel Marcel (1889–1973)  France philosophy, drama Jules-Augustin Bizet (1908–1977)
29 Ramón Menéndez Pidal (1869–1968)  Spain philology, history
30 Pablo Neruda (1904–1973)  Chile poetry André Joucla-Ruau (1923–1972)
31 Marcel Pagnol (1895–1974)  France novel, memoir, drama, screenplay Jean Ricci (1933–2011)
32 Saint-John Perse (1887–1975)  France poetry
33 Ezra Pound (1885–1972)  United States poetry, essays Erik Hjalmar Linder (1906–1994)
34 Vasco Pratolini (1931–1991)  Italy novel, short story Paul Renucci (1915–1976)
35 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888–1975)  India philosophy, essays, law Nirmal Kumar Sidhanta (1929–2014)
36 Alfonso Reyes Ochoa (1889–1959)  Mexico philosophy, essays, novel, poetry National Autonomous University of Mexico
37 Jean Schlumberger (1877–1968)  France poetry, essays Pierre Legouis (1891–1973)
38 Zalman Shneour (1887–1959)  Soviet Union
( Belarus)
 United States
poetry, essays Robert Henry Pfeiffer (1892–1958)
39 Mikhail Sholokhov (1905–1984)  Soviet Union novel
  • Johannes Andreasson Dale (1898–1975)
  • André Bonnard (1888–1959)
40 Stijn Streuvels (1871–1969)  Belgium novel, short story Pierre Brachin (1914–2004)
41 Jules Supervielle (1884–1960)  France
poetry, novel, short story Maurice Le Boucher (1882–1964)
42 George Macauley Trevelyan (1876–1962)  United Kingdom biography, autobiography, essays, history Nils Ahnlund (1889–1957)
43 Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888–1970)  Italy poetry, essays, literary criticism Marcel Raymond (1897–1981)
44 Tarjei Vesaas (1897–1970)  Norway poetry, novel


Ramón Menéndez Pidal received 95 nominations only for the year 1956, becoming the author with the highest nominations in the Academy's archives.

The strongest contender for the 1956 Nobel Prize was the Spanish historian and philologist Ramón Menéndez Pidal with 95 nominations from academics, critics, authors, literary societies and politicians.[5] His surmounting nomination was snubbed instead by the Swedish Academy and given to the poet, Juan Ramón Jiménez, who was nominated by Harry Martinson, an academy member. The rejection of Menéndez Pidal sparked heavy criticisms from the literary world.[6] He received 154 nominations in all since 1931 up to 1968, the year he died.

The Nobel citation for Juan Ramón Jiménez, says:

"This year's laureate is the last survivor of the famous "generation of 1898". For a generation of poets on both sides of the ocean which separates, and at the same time, unites the Hispanic countries, he has been a master – the master, in effect. When the Swedish Academy renders homage to Juan Ramón Jiménez, it renders homage also to an entire epoch in the glorious Spanish literature."[7]

According to Burton Feldman, in his book The Nobel Prize: A History of Geniuses Controversy, and Prestige, the selection of Jiménez was made as form of recompense for the neglected past generation of writers who had set out a unique revival of Spanish writing in 1898, which includes Antonio and Manuel Machado, Ramón del Valle-Inclán, Miguel de Unamuno, the Nicaraguan Rubén Darío (then living in Spain), and Jiménez among them. Feldman said: "But making him a stand-in for a neglected generation renders his own honor ambiguous. Did he deserve the honor on his own, or because the others died ignored and he happened to live so long?"[8]

Award Ceremony

Jiménez was unable to be present at the Nobel Banquet at the Swedish Academy in Stockholm, December 10, 1956, thus his speech was read by Jaime Benítez Rexach, Rector of the University of Puerto Rico. His very reasons why he was unable to participate in the event was that he was emotionally devastated over the death of his wife, Zenobia Camprubí, from ovarian cancer and because of his intermittent sickness caused by old age. In his sorrow, Jiménez said: "Besieged by sorrow and sickness, I must remain in Puerto Rico, unable to participate directly in the solemnities... My wife Zenobia is the true winner of this Prize. Her companionship, her help, her inspiration made, for forty years, my work possible. Today, without her, I am desolate and helpless."[9]


  1. ^ The Nobel Prize in literature 1956 nobelprize.org
  2. ^ Juan Ramón Jiménez nobelprize.org
  3. ^ Nomination archive – Juan Ramón Jiménez nobelprize.org
  4. ^ Nomination archive – 1956 nobelprize.org
  5. ^ Nomination archive - Ramón Menéndez Pidal nobelprize.org
  6. ^ "The best way to win a Nobel is to get nominated by another laureate". The Economist. 9 October 2021. Retrieved 21 May 2022.
  7. ^ Award Ceremony – 1956 nobelprize.org]
  8. ^ Burton Feldman, The Nobel Prize: A History of Geniuses Controversy, and Prestige, p. 56
  9. ^ Juan Ramón Jiménez – Speech nobelprize.org