The dramatic move came after allegations that Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of a Swedish Academy member, had sexually assaulted or harassed 18 women
2018’s Nobel Prize in literature ends with a cliffhanger.
The Swedish Academy won’t name a literature laureate this year due to conflict arising from a sex-abuse scandal, the awarding panel announced Friday. The Academy — reportedly marking its first year since WWII not giving out the award — will instead push the prize to 2019, when it will dole out two.
“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,” Nobel Foundation board chairman Carl-Henrik Heldin said in a statement. “The crisis in the Swedish Academy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize. Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize.”
This week’s decision won’t affect awards in other Nobel Prize categories, Heldin added.
The dramatic move came after allegations to Swedish media outlets that photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, the 71-year-old husband of poet and Academy member Katarina Frostenson, had sexually assaulted or harassed 18 women — and years ago groped Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. Arnault, who is close with other Academy members, also co-owns with Frostenson a cultural center that received financing from the Academy. He has denied the allegations through a lawyer, the New York Times reports.
The scandal prompted friction within the Academy: The group’s demotion of permanent secretary Sara Danius, who had commissioned an outside investigation and cut Academy ties with Arnault and his center, led to an outcry and multiple resignations. Some members also quit over Frostenson staying on board, per the Times.
Going forward, Heldin said, “the Nobel Foundation presumes that the Swedish Academy will now put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility as a prize-awarding institution and that the Academy will report the concrete actions that are undertaken.”
“We also assume that all members of the Academy realise that both its extensive reform efforts and its future organisational structure must be characterised by greater openness towards the outside world,” he added.
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