Nobel Prize in Literature cancelled amidst Sexual Assault Scandal

Georgia Reed
May 14, 2018

And if all these slurs were not enough there are rumours that an academy member regularly leaked the names of Nobel literature winners.

Not only has the infighting since the allegations have gone public exposed the patriarchy embedded in the system in its reaction to the stance taken by now-resigned Permanent Secretary Sara Darius and several other members against Frostenson and Claude-Arnault, it has also highlighted the pitfalls of a lack of transparency in the functioning of such a hallowed body. Other allegations against him emerged later, including a report that Arnault had groped Sweden's crown princess, Victoria. Something that Arnault himself denies.

Why did the controversy cause a rift in the academy?

It was this that plunged the Academy into open civil war, with some members (and a good chunk of public opinion) seeing this as a straightforward case of a woman taking the fall for a man's misdeeds - meanwhile, former permanent secretary Horace Engdahl argued it was unfair to dismiss Ms. Frostenson on the basis of Mr. Arnault's alleged wrongdoing, and publicly described Ms. Danius as the worst permanent secretary the Academy had ever seen.

Some academy members had argued that the prize should proceed to protect the tradition, but others said the institution was in no state to present the award.

A debate over how to face up to its flaws also divided its 18 members who are appointed for life, into hostile camps and prompted seven members of the prestigious institution to leave or disassociate themselves from the group. "The crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize".

2018's Nobel Prize in literature ends with a cliffhanger.

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The Swedish Academy's annual meeting at the Stock Exchange Building in Stockholm, December 20, 2017.

On May 4, the Stockholm-based organization that hands out the prize said its 2018 victor will be announced next year along with the 2019 victor.

Seven times previously, the Swedish Academy has chosen to declare a "reserved prize": in 1915, 1919, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1936 and 1949. There were additional claims that some Academy staff and members' relatives had experienced "unwanted intimacy" at the Arnault's hands.

The #MeToo campaign, which showed the prevalence of sexual assault globally, may have played a part in the academy's decision.

It also confirmed that the academy had broken its own rules relating to conflicts of interest by providing funding to the cultural forum run by Arnault and Frostenson. The scandal created a rift among members of the organisation.

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A plaque depicting Alfred Nobel at the Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony 2008 in Oslo City Hall on December 10, 2008 in Oslo, Norway. Recent winners include Never Let Me Go author Kazuo Ishiguro and musician Bob Dylan. "One of the circumstances that may justify an exception is when a situation in a prize-awarding institution arises that is so serious that a prize decision will not be perceived as credible", wrote Carl-Henrik Heldin, Chairman of the Board of the Nobel Foundation.

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