Nobel literature laureate Doris Lessing, who greeted news of her victory with the words "I couldn't care less," received her prize Wednesday night at a champagne reception in London.

The 88-year-old writer was still not entirely overwhelmed by the honor.

"There isn't anywhere to go from here, is there?" she said, before thinking of one more accolade: "I could receive a pat on the head from the pope."

Lessing, whose back problems prevented her from traveling to Stockholm for the official Nobel prize-giving ceremony Dec. 10, was given the gold Nobel prize by Swedish Ambassador Staffan Carlsson amid the Old Master paintings of the Wallace Collection art gallery in London.

Carlsson called her "forever young and wise, old and rebellious ... the least ingratiating of writers."