Why didn’t Borges win the Nobel Prize for Literature?

It was in 2018 when everything exploded: allegations of sexual abuse, leaks about winners (even for the Nobel there are bets online) and suspicions about their finances, ended with the resignation of several of its members and shook the majestic building located to its foundations. in Stockholm and to the institution itself founded in 1786.

However, and beyond the scandals that dotted the Academy, recent revelations show that, in reality, the chances of the author of ‘El Aleph’ obtaining the coveted prize were practically nil since the mid-1960s, at least ; almost from the beginning. And not exactly for the reasons already mentioned.

María Esther Vázquez, author of the book ‘Borges, splendor and defeat’, edited by Tusquets, tells that in 1964 she accompanied Borges to Stockholm to participate in a dinner with Swedish writers. There, Artur Lundkvist read a poem of his own authorship on which the Argentine writer had no mercy: he ridiculed him in front of several guests, who a little later wentssiped about the Swede.

Poet, writer and translator, Lundkvist (1906-1991) was -and still is- well-known in his country. In fact, he had translated and introduced to Europe Borges himself, of whom he was a profound admirer. His unease, obviously, was supreme, and he demonstrated it from 1968, when he became a member and permanent secretary of the Academy, until his death, systematically blocking the Argentine writer’s nominations.

It is worth noting, however, that Borges did not do much from then on to win the sympathy of the dominant ‘progress’ at that time within the walls of the majestic building that rises in the Swedish capital. On the contrary, his ethics did not prevent him from receiving other prizes from bloody hands with joy and satisfaction.

On September 21, 1976, in the midst of the darkest and bloodiest decade that South America has experienced in its entire history, the author of ‘Ficciones’ appeared in Santiago de Chile to receive an honorary doctorate from Augusto Pinochet at the university of the trans-Andean country. “Here we have: Chile, that region, that homeland, which is both a long homeland and an honorable sword,” said the Argentine.

Later, Borges met with the Chilean dictator and declared to the Chilean press: “He is an excellent person, for his cordiality, his kindness… I am very satisfied.” So there was no turning back: neither the Academy nor any democratic institution could reward the Argentine poet after such sayings, with that attitude towards the political and social reality of the continent.

“The Swedish Academy will never award the Nobel to Borges… Swedish society cannot award someone with that background,” says Chilean writer Volodia Teitelboim, author of ‘The Two Borges’ (South American), Lundkvist told him in 1980. The same one who had been ridiculed by Borges 16 years earlier, the same one who was already permanent secretary of the Academy.

The real reasons why Borges was not awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature

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Why didn’t Borges win the Nobel Prize for Literature?