1958 Nobel Prize in Literature
Boris Pasternak
"for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition."
  • 23 October 1958 (announcement)
  • 10 December 1958
Presented bySwedish Academy
First awarded1901
WebsiteOfficial website
← 1957 · Nobel Prize in Literature · 1959 →

The 1958 Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded the Russian author Boris Pasternak (1890–1960) "for his important achievement both in contemporary lyrical poetry and in the field of the great Russian epic tradition."[1] He is the second Russian-language writer to be awarded with such honor.[2]

Pasternak first accepted the prize honour, but was then pressured by the Soviet Union authorities to decline the prize. In 1988, Pasternak's son accepted the prize on his behalf.[3]


Main article: Boris Pasternak

Boris Pasternak's modernist-leaning poetry first came to light in the 1910s and 1920s, when he published collections of poems such as Sestra moya—zhizn ("My Sister, Life", 1922) and Vtoroe rozhdenie ("A Second Birth", 1932). He began to emphasize social issues more and use clearer, simpler language in the 1930s. The existential is another theme in Pasternak's writings, covering nature, life, humanity, and love. The renowned 1957 novel Doctor Zhivago, which takes place between the socialist revolution of 1905 and World War II, demonstrates this.[4]


Pasternak earned 9 nominations in total. He was first introduced for the Nobel Prize in 1946 by English literary critic Maurice Bowra. In 1958, after receiving three recommendations from Renato Poggioli, Harry Levin and Ernest Simmons, he was eventually awarded thereafter.[5]

In total, the Nobel Committee for Literature received 70 nominations for 42 authors such as Riccardo Bacchelli, Robert Frost, Graham Greene, André Malraux, Ramón Menéndez Pidal, Alberto Moravia, Jean-Paul Sartre (awarded in 1964), Ignazio Silone, John Steinbeck (awarded in 1962), Giuseppe Ungaretti and Thornton Wilder. Seventeen of the nominees were newly nominated namely Ivo Andrić (awarded in 1961), Fernand Baldensperger, Elizabeth Bowen, Maurice Bowra, James Gould Cozzens, John Hersey, Miroslav Krleža, Junzaburō Nishiwaki, John Cowper Powys, Salvatore Quasimodo (awarded in 1959), Rudolf Alexander Schröder, Georges Simenon, Jun'ichirō Tanizaki, Lionel Trilling, Elio Vittorini, Robert Penn Warren and Tennessee Williams. There were only five women authors nominated: Karen Blixen, Edith Sitwell, Elizabeth Bowen, Gertrud von le Fort and Marie Under.[6]

The authors Eleanor Hallowell Abbott, Zoe Akins, Mary Ritter Beard, Til Brugman, James Branch Cabell, Rachel Crothers, Lionel Giles, Feodor Gladkov, Michael Joseph, Henry Kuttner, Cyril M. Kornbluth, Irene Lisboa, Dorothy Macardle, Rose Macaulay, George Edward Moore, George Jean Nathan, Seumas O'Sullivan, Elliot Paul, Máiréad "Peig" Sayers, Robert W. Service, John Collings Squire, Marie Stopes, Ralph Waldo Trine, Ethel Turner, Alfred Weber, and Geoffrey Willans died in 1958 without having been nominated for the award. The French literary scholar Fernand Baldensperger 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 Ivo Andrić (1892–1975)  Yugoslavia novel, short story, poetry Association of Writers of Yugoslavia
2 Riccardo Bacchelli (1891–1985)  Italy novel, drama, essays Hans Nilsson-Ehle (1910–1983)
3 Fernand Baldensperger (1871–1958)  France essays, literary criticism, poetry Alan Carey Taylor (1905–1975)
4 Karen Blixen (1885–1962)  Denmark novel, short story, memoir Elias Wessén (1889–1981)
5 Elizabeth Bowen (1899–1973)  Ireland
 United Kingdom
novel, short story, essays Roman Jakobson (1896–1982)
6 Maurice Bowra (1898–1971)  United Kingdom history, essays, literary criticism, poetry Ernest Ludwig Stahl (1902–1992)
7 Martin Buber (1878–1965)  Austria
philosophy Hermann Hesse (1877–1962)
8 James Gould Cozzens (1903–1978)  United States novel Gordon S. Haight (1901–1985)
9 Gonzague de Reynold (1880–1970)   Switzerland history, essays, biography, memoir Pierre-Henri Simon (1903–1972)
10 Robert Frost (1874–1963)  United States poetry, drama
11 Graham Greene (1904–1991)  United Kingdom novel, short story, autobiography, essays Kristian Smidt (1916–2013)
12 John Hersey (1914–1993)  United States novel, short story, essays Helen Rose Hull (1888–1971)
13 Miroslav Krleža (1893–1981)  Yugoslavoa
poetry, drama, short story, novel, essays Association of Writers of Yugoslavia
14 André Malraux (1901–1976)  France novel, essays, literary criticism
  • Louis L. Martz (1913–2001)
  • Jean Hytier (1899–1983)
  • Wilbur Merrill Frohock (1908–1984)
15 Ramón Menéndez Pidal (1869–1968)  Spain philology, history
  • Alexander A. Parker (1908–1989)
  • Edward Meryon Wilson (1906–1977)
  • Gunnar Tilander (1894–1973)
  • Several professors
16 Alberto Moravia (1907–1990)  Italy novel, literary criticism, essays, drama
  • Stuart Pratt Atkins (1914–2000)
  • Hans Nilsson-Ehle (1910–1983)
17 Junzaburō Nishiwaki (1894–1982)  Japan poetry, literary criticism Naoshirō Tsuji (1899–1979)
18 Boris Pasternak (1890–1960)  Russia poetry, novel, translation
19 Saint-John Perse (1887–1975)  France poetry
20 John Cowper Powys (1872–1963)  United Kingdom philosophy, novel, literary criticism, poetry, essays, short story Enid Starkie (1897–1970)
21 Salvatore Quasimodo (1901–1968)  Italy poetry, translation
22 Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (1888–1975)  India philosophy, essays, law Nirmal Kumar Sidhanta (1929–2014)
23 Alfonso Reyes Ochoa (1889–1959)  Mexico philosophy, essays, novel, poetry Angel del Río (1901–1962)
24 Carl Sandburg (1878–1967)  United States poetry, essays, biography Henning Larsen (1889–1971)
25 Jean-Paul Sartre (1905–1980)  France philosophy, novel, drama, essays, screenplay Kristian Smidt (1916–2013)
26 Rudolf Alexander Schröder (1878–1962)  Germany poetry, songwriting, translation
27 Mikhail Sholokhov (1905–1984)  Russia novel
28 Ignazio Silone (1900–1978)  Italy novel, short story, essays, drama
29 Georges Simenon (1903–1989)  Belgium novel, short story, memoir
30 Edith Sitwell (1887–1964)  United Kingdom poetry, essays, memoir Walter MacKellar (1927–2016)
31 John Steinbeck (1902–1968)  United States novel, short story, screenplay Lennox Grey (?)
32 Jun'ichirō Tanizaki (1886–1965)  Japan novel, short story Pearl S. Buck (1892–1973)
33 Lionel Trilling (1905–1975)  United States essays, literary criticism, short story Charles Warren Everett (1895–1983)
34 Marie Under (1883–1980)  Estonia poetry William Kleesmann Matthews (1901–1958)
35 Giuseppe Ungaretti (1888–1970)  Italy poetry, essays, literary criticism Howard R. Marraro (1897–1972)
36 Tarjei Vesaas (1897–1970)  Norway poetry, novel Harald Beyer (1891–1960)
37 Simon Vestdijk (1898–1971)  Netherlands novel, poetry, essays, translation Benjamin Hunningher (1903–1991)
38 Elio Vittorini (1908–1966)  Italy novel, short story Stuart Pratt Atkins (1914–2000)
39 Gertrud von Le Fort (1876–1971)  Germany novel, short story, essays, poetry
40 Robert Penn Warren (1905–1989)  United States novel, poetry, essays, literary criticism René Wellek (1903–1995)
41 Thornton Wilder (1897–1975)  United States drama, novel, short story
  • Jean Boorsch (1906–2008)
  • Heinz Bluhm (1907–1993)
  • Frederick Albert Pottle (1897–1987)
  • Henry D. Hatfield (1875–1962)
42 Tennessee Williams (1911–1983)  United States drama, novel, screenplay, short story, poetry Napier Wilt (1896–1975)


  1. ^ "Nobel Prize in Literature 1958". nobelprize.org.
  2. ^ Werner Wiskari (24 October 1958). "Nobel Prize Goes to Pasternak; Russian's 'Zhivago' Still Unpublished in Soviet Union". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 December 2023.
  3. ^ Corinne Segal (29 October 2020). "When Boris Pasternak Under Fire From Soviet Authorities Turned Down a Nobel Prize". lithub.com.
  4. ^ Boris Pasternak – Facts nobelprize.org
  5. ^ Nomination archive – Boris Pasternak nobelprize.org
  6. ^ Nomination archive – 1958 nobelprize.org