2018 Nobel Prize in Literature Postponed After Sexual Misconduct Scandal

The 2018 Nobel Prize in Literature has been postponed following a sexual and financial scandal involving the Swedish Academy, which is the cultural institution responsible for awarding the prestigious prize.

According to CNN, the academy made the announcement Friday morning after a meeting of its remaining active members on Thursday evening. “We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the academy before the next laureate can be announced,” said the statement issued by Anders Olsson, the academy’s permanent secretary, adding that the academy was acting “out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation and the general public.”

And so, this year’s literature laureate will be announced in 2019, the academy said.

The scandal leading to this decision centres on series of allegations made against Jean-Claude Arnault, a leading cultural figure in Sweden and husband of Katarina Frostenson, who was an academy member until she stepped down in the wake of the scandal. They both run a separate cultural forum, which received funding from the academy.

Here’s what CNN said of Arnault:

“Arnault, a French photographer who has attended many Swedish Academy events, faces multiple claims of sexual assault and harassment, first reported in the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter late last year. It is also alleged that he touched Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria inappropriately at a Swedish Academy event in 2006. In a statement emailed to CNN earlier this week, Arnault’s lawyer, Bjorn Hurtig, said his client denied all the allegations.”

The revelations reportedly caused deep rifts within the organisation, so much that Sara Danius, the academy’s permanent secretary, and the first woman to hold the post, “cut all ties with Arnault and commissioned an independent report from an outside law firm. She was later ousted from her position — although she remained a member of the academy — prompting complaints that she was being sacrificed for her desire to bring openness and accountability to the organization.”

Sara Danius announced on November 23, 2017 that the institution has cut all ties with Arnault.

CNN adds that “a number of academy members resigned in protest that Frostenson initially remained on the panel; others quit in protest at the treatment of Danius. The recriminations meant that by this week, there were only 10 active members of a body that ought to have 18.”

Reacting to the outrage, the Nobel Foundation, which oversees all the Nobel prizes, noted that the crisis had tarnished the wider organization and welcomed the Swedish Academy’s announcement.

“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. None of this impacts the awarding of the 2018 Nobel Prizes in other prize categories,” it said in a statement.

It urged the academy to “put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility as a prize-awarding institution” and said members should realize that its reform efforts “must be characterized by greater openness towards the outside world.”
The last time the literature prize was postponed was in 1943 at the height of World War II.”

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