Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his work “rich in ideas and filled with the spirit of freedom and the quest for truth”. He refused it, citing both personal and objective reasons […]
Assuring the press that his decision was not an “impulsive gesture”, one of the reasons Sartre gave for rejecting the prize stemmed from his habit of refusing all official honours.
Sartre believed every individual is responsible for creating a purpose for their life. By accepting the prize, Sartre would inadvertently associate himself with the institution that honoured him.
His humble conception of the writer’s “enterprise” – as he called it in his explanation – led Sartre to believe that those in political, social or literary positions should only “act with the means that are his own – the written word”.
“The writer must therefore refuse to let himself be transformed into an institution, even if this occurs under the most honourable circumstances, as in the present case,” he said.