Jean-Paul Sartre declined the Nobel Prize.
Sartre was the first person to decline the award and even wrote a letter asking to be taken off the nominations list. In the aftermath he said that he didn't want to be "institutionalized" or "transformed" by such an award. Arguably the Nobel Prize for literature is the highest commendation a writer can receive from the "establishment" and (aside from Paris) for Casanova it is the gates-head or clearing house of world literature. So what was Sartre actually rejecting? Western late stage capitalism? The mains stream misunderstanding about his work that already frustrated him? Or could he be above the Nobel Prize in a sense as he didn't need it to catapult him to international fame?
Interesting also to note that Sartre's ex-friend Albert Camus recieved the award seven years before Sartre and was the second youngest Nobel winner (after Kipling). Camus was awarded it in 1957 for:
"his important literary production, which with clear-sighted earnestness illuminates the problems of the human conscience in our times".
Maybe another reason not to accept?
So do we accept the institution? How much weight do we put on the outcome of awards?
Do texts still have the ability to change the world?
Is poetry still considered a serious commitment?