Article 2 of the Constitution of the Praemium Erasmianum Foundation reads as follows:
“Within the context of the cultural traditions of Europe in general and the ideas of Erasmus in particular, the aim of the Foundation is to enhance the position of the humanities, the social sciences and the arts. The emphasis lies on tolerance, cultural diversity and non-dogmatic, critical thinking. The Foundation tries to achieve this aim by awarding prizes and by other means. A cash prize is awarded under the name of ‘Erasmus Prize’.”In accordance with this article, the Board of the Foundation has decided to award the Erasmus Prize 2016 to the British writer Dame Antonia Susan Byatt.
The prize is awarded to A.S. Byatt on the following grounds:
– Her work crosses boundaries in style and content. It covers an enormous range of genres, literary forms and subjects. She immerses the reader in the history of European thinking, taking the big questions about science, history and identity as her starting point.
– In her wide-ranging body of work she unites great intellectual force with unbridled imaginative power.
– Central to her work is a reinvention of ‘old tales in new forms’. In revisiting myths and fairy tales, she turns them into a lasting reflection on the European history of ideas in narrative form.
– Among her recurring themes are the influence of art on life, magic and realism, and the conflict between ambition and family.
– The jury describes A.S. Byatt as a born storyteller with a keen eye for relationships in public and private life.
– Many of her novels and her critical work explore the act of writing biography or conducting research. In the process, A.S. Byatt has reshaped the genre of life writing in her own unique way.