The 1946 Pulitzer Prize Decision

The 1945 and 1946 Pulitzer Novel Juries were split on which novel should receive the award, however in 1946 the Jury could not come to a conclusion. After extensive debate they decided not to issue an award in 1946 (the first year without an award since Hemingway was controversially denied the Pulitzer in 1941 for For Whom The Bell Tolls -read my reflections on the novel and the Pulitzer controversy here).

The 1946 Novel Jury was composed of the same three gentlemen as in 1945: Orville Prescott, the lead book reviewer for The New York Times; Maxwell S. Geismar, a Columbia alumnus and teacher at Harvard who became a famous literary critic for a variety of publications including The New York Times Book Review, The New York Herald Tribune, The Nation, The American Scholar, The Saturday Review of Books, The Yale Review, The Virginia Quarterly, Encyclopedia Britannica and Compton’s Encyclopedia (he also penned a notoriously belligerent critique of Henry James); and John Chamberlain, the Chairman of the Novel Jury and a memorable book reviewer who worked for a host of publications throughout his career including The New York Times, TIME Magazine, Life, Fortune, Scribner’s, Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, and others. He taught Journalism at Columbia University.

Apparently (per John Hohenberg), the Pulitzer Jury was split between three books: Apartment in Athens by Glenway Wescott, a novel about the heroism of ordinary people under Nazi occupation (Wescott was an American expatriate in Paris and was openly gay -today, his novels are largely forgotten); The Wayfarers by Dan Wickenden (another mid-century novelists whose novels are mostly forgotten), and Black Boy by Richard Wright (Orville Prescott rejected Black Boy on the grounds that it is a memoir and not a novel, however today Richard Wright is considered the most celebrated writer of this trio).

Click here to return to my survey of the Pulitzer Prize Winners.

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