Science and literature

The Spanish Nobel Prizes

Since they were established in 1901, the Nobel Prizes have been awarded to eight Spaniards—six in Literature and two in Medicine.

The first Nobel Prize to be awarded to a Spaniard was to the playwright José Echegaray in 1904. It recognised the brilliance of his work, which renewed the tradition of Spanish drama from the 16th century. Two years later in 1906, Santiago Ramón y Cajal received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in recognition of his pioneering work in the study of the nervous system. In 1959, another researcher, Severo Ochoa, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine, which he shared with a former student, the American, Arthur Kornberg. Before this, in 1922, the playwright Jacinto Benavente won the prize for Literature for the way in which he combined the legacy of Spanish drama with the traditions of illustration. And in 1956, writer Juan Ramón Jiménez was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in recognition of the stylistic purity and elevated spirituality that he infused in his lyrics. In 1977, another great poet, Vicente Aleixandre, was rewarded for his career with a Nobel Prize. The Swedish Academy acknowledged his poetic creativity, “which illuminates man's condition in the cosmos and in present-day society”. Camilo José Cela was recognised with this award in 1989 for his rich prose “that combines different forms of compassion as a framework of a challenging view of man's vulnerability”. Most recently, in 2010, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to Mario Vargas Llosa, who has Peruvian and Spanish dual nationality.

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