No Nobel Literature Prize after #MeToo turmoil

Bessie Dean
May 5, 2018

The Swedish Academy has chose to postpone the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2018 on Friday, according to an official statement on its website.

The Swedish Academy says it will now annouce the 2018 victor along with the 2019 victor next year, reports BBC.

In a statement on its website, the academy said: "The present decision was arrived at in view of the now diminished Academy and the reduced public confidence in the Academy".

A sex scandal has caused the postponement of the Nobel Prize for Literature this year, prompting several members to resign from the board of the Swedish Academy that makes the award.

The Academy, composed of Sweden's literary elite, said it aimed to award two prizes in 2019, including the 2018 one. In five of those instances, the Academy awarded a victor at the same time as the next year's. He has denied the allegations.

As it stands, only 11 members are in place, which is partially the reason that the statement specified that the "Academy's operative practices need to be evolved" and that "One of the purposes is to modernise the interpretation of the Academy's statutes, principally the question of resignation of membership".

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Chairman of the Nobel foundation Carl-Henrik Heldin gave an online statement asserting that the awarding of Nobel prizes could be postponed "when a situation in a prize-awarding institution arises that is so serious that a prize decision will not be perceived as credible" - and, with the Academy at each other's throats and the institution itself in turmoil, this is very much the case.

In early April, three male academy members withdrew in protest after the group voted not to sideline Frostenson. It plans to award double prizes next year, the institute said in a press release.

Apparently no stranger to these backdoor shenanigans, Mr. Arnault has subsequently also been accused of leaking the names of winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature ahead of time. Sweden's king, its politicians and the Nobel Foundation board have expressed concern that the global reputation of the academy is being tarnished. "We also assume that all members of the Academy realize that both its extensive reform efforts and its future organisational structure must be characterized by greater openness towards the outside world". "None of this impacts the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prizes in other prize categories", he added.

Relatives of academy members have also alleged sexual harassment by Arnault.

The king "respected" the academy's decision to postpone the award, the palace said on Friday.

The Nobel Prize for literature is among the world's most prominent, universally accepted and lucrative cultural honours (winners receive approximately $1.3 million Cdn). The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awards the prizes for physics, chemistry and economics, while the Nobel Assembly awards the medicine prize. In more than 230 years, there have been just nine female members in the academy's existence; five of those have stepped down since 1989. Recent winners include Never Let Me Go author Kazuo Ishiguro and musician Bob Dylan.

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