The Birdcage Archives

Saturday 29 December 2018

Amos Oz, Dies Aged 79

Hello Gentle Reader

Amos Oz was a giant of contemporary Israeli literature alongside: David Grossman and A.B. Yehoshua. Globally, Oz was often viewed as a perennial contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Yet on December 28th of two-thousand and eighteen, Amos Oz, lost at the fight against cancer at the age of seventy-nine. He died peacefully surrounded by his loving family. During his life time, Amos Oz was considered one of the greatest—and at times, divisive—writers of Israel. Throughout his lifetime he had published forty books, ranging from short story collections and novellas, to novels, children’s books, as well as collections of essays and articles on a variety of subjects, which included literary criticism and political commentary. His novels are often paraded as the source of his recognition, and are the hook, line and sinker to draw and retain readers to his work. His novels and short stories were noted for their realistic characters, which were painted with all the follies of the human psyche and soul, but graced with an ironic touch to smooth out their shards and edges. His novels also allowed him the creative expressive measures to offer critical insight into the political and cultural situation of Israel and its constant battle to maintain its sovereignty, its security, and legitimacy in a contested and volatile region. His political views were often direct and concrete, but also pliable and flexible enough to be able to justify either perspective he wished to choose. Amos Oz is often credited as being one of the first prominent Israel intellectuals to have supported a two-state solution with Palestine. The conflict over the Gaza strip, Oz has famously stated is not a conflict fueled by differentiating cultures or religions, but rather a violent real estate argument, which neither party will win, until a long and painful compromise has been reached. Despite being a adamant advocate for a two-state solution, Oz was also known for supporting military action against the Palestine’s (when he saw it as necessary, as well as other defensive maneuvers against neighbouring nations). Despite the at times conflicted nature of his political perspective, Amos Oz was often considered a moderate writer of little to no political inflammation. Furthermore his literary work was world renowned, internationally recognized, and translated into a multitude of different languages—including Arabic. This often placed him as a strong contender for the Nobel Prize for Literature, first on the basis of his literary work: critically appraised and reader appeasement, not to mention his international acclaim was well-known for those who sought out to read new and interesting works—to be blunt: to call Amos Oz, ‘obscure,’ was insult and injury. With regards to his political stances, perspectives, articles and essays, he was considered moderate, understandable, and negotiable on the matters. He was not seen as a zealot but the vast majority; nor was he considered a bleeding-heart intellectual, but a shadowy and informed individual who could take either stance, with a sober and realistic outlook and disseminate the facts with ease and authority. From a public relations perspective he would be considered ‘perfect,’ for the Nobel Prize, he could appease political motivations with being inflammatory, while also stand firmly on his own literary output, as a true literary leaning intellectual. Despite this, Amos Oz never did receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Even though he did not receive the literature prize, despite all the speculation, Amos Oz, will certainly survive the test of time for years to come, without the golden crutch. His work burns, snaps and crackles with the intensity, the rage, and uncertainty of the time. His characters and narrators are realistic, complete with human difficulties, trivialities, and follies, but are grounded and even humbly rounded off with a dosage of subtle humour and irony.

Amos Oz is and was one of the greatest contemporary Israeli authors of the time, and his time. His work is infused with his passions and his rage against injustices. Yet they are also literary, personal, and driven with narratives of his homeland, of his own history, and preoccupations with the questions of the importance of history, life, literature, conflict, religion. Some are the very same questions—if not universal questions—people ask themselves every day, in some fashion or another. It is unfortunate to end this way, so close to the New Year, but rest comfortably and contently.

Rest in Peace, Amos Oz.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take care 
And As Always 
Stay Well Read

M. Mary 

Saturday 22 December 2018

The Swedish Academy General Meeting

Hello Gentle Reader

The Swedish Academys’ supplementary investigation into the accusations that member and poet: Katarina Frostenson, had broken the statuettes of secrecy, has recently concluded. This second investigation was solicited by current Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Anders Olsson, and its findings remain consistent with the initial investigation petitioned by former Permanent Secretary Sara Danius. The investigation concludes on numerous occasions, Katarina Frostenson prematurely provided information regarding the winning laureate to her husband, Jean-Claude Arnault, who then subsequently advertised the information on a selective basis.

The investigation summarized the following laureates were leaked by Katarina Frostenson in order:

(1996) Wisława Szymborska
(2004) Elfriede Jelinek
(2005) Harold Pinter
(2008) Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio
(2014) Patrick Modiano
(2015)  Svetlana Alexievich
(2016) Bob Dylan

The investigation advises the Swedish Academy to either exclude—or expel— Katarina Frostenson or urge her to voluntarily resign from the institution. It has been rumored that in two-thousand and fourteen, then Permanent Secretary Peter Englund, had grown suspicious of leaks within the academy, and questioned Frostenson about the heightened interest in the then unknown laureate, Patrick Modiano. Frostenson is said to have rebuffed the accusation. Yet, this would explain why leading up to the announcement date, how Patrick Modiano flew through the betting sites lists with lightning speed, considering years prior his name was rarely mentioned and he appeared to be a dark horse.

It should also be noted that Katarina Frostenson also stands accused of leaking of new elected members prematurely to her husband, who is said to have used this information for his own gain and at the expense of the Swedish Academy.

Testimonials provided for the investigation where often anonymous, as the witnesses had concerns regarding retaliation. Former academy member: Klas Östergren, has openly been named as testimonial witness in the investigation as well as playwright, Anna Kölén. It is rumoured that Peter Englund and Sara Danius were also interviewed during this supplemental investigation. Klas Östergren specifically testified that Jean Claude-Arnault informed him that Polish poet Wisława Szymborska would win the Nobel Prize in 1996; and Anna Kölén testified that Arnault openly touted that Elfriede Jelinek and Harold Pinter would receive the award in 2004 and 2005 respectively. Anna Kölén believes in an opinion article that she wrote that, Arnault often leaked names with audacity to showcase his knowledge, his connections, as well as his might, and to help him build relationships and further social advantages within the Stockholm cultural scene.

Other parts of the investigation have not yet been released, as they are currently under review by the financial crimes unit of the Stockholm police. Permanent Secretary Anders Olsson also did not comment on whether or not the academy will once again vote on whether or not to exclude Katarina Frostenson, but did state the investigation will be reviewed in full come the New Year, along with a solution.

On December 20th, the Swedish Academy hosted its general meeting where three new members were formally inducted into the academy:

Chair No. 1 – (Justitieråd/Justice) Eric Runesson
Chair No. 11 – Mats Malm
Chair No. 15 – Jila Mossaed

The general meeting was contentious as the rest of the year. Held in the company of the Swedish Royal family and five hundred invited guests, the Swedish Academy inducts new members and reviews its year. Yet, some of the invited guests chose to boycott the event, including the Archbishop Antje Jackelén, and invited guest Agneta Pleijel. The blue table situated in the middle of the room like a grand dinner table of literary theatre, was also noticeably vacant. Eight seats were left vacant, which included four inactive members:

Chair No. 7 – Sara Danius
Chair No. 10 – Peter Englund
Chair No. 16 – Kjell Espmark
Chair No. 18 – Katarina Frostenson

As well as two vacant seats:

Chair No. 9 – (Previously held by, Jayne Svenungsson)
Chair No. 13 – (Previously held by, Sara Stridsberg)

Chair No. 14 – Kristina Lugn – was also noticeably absent during the meeting, as were other members, whose identities are not known.  

It’s a startling photo to review to see the academy in ruin and by its own volition; its own missteps; its own lack of governing capabilities. The meeting of December 20th appeared somber in appearance and is an astute physical representation of the grave year of scandal.

As for Katarina Frostenson, through her legal representation, she is willing to voluntarily resign herself from the academy, but only after negotiating a settlement of monetary value, between herself and the Swedish Academy. Whether or not the Swedish Academy will entertain the thought of negotiating with Frostenson over her removal from the academy is yet unknown. To reiterate, Permanent Secretary Anders Olsson, has stated the academy will not agree on any solution until the New Year, and will not convict itself to any resolution prematurely until then.

The Swedish Academy now wraps up its year of calamity just before Christmas. Their general meeting a somber occasion wrapped in the cloak of pomp and ceremony that did little to conceal and mask the grievous wounds left behind. Chair after chair was vacant, while few were populated. Hopefully the Swedish Academy can find a appropriate solution away from cronyism and personal biases in the New Year, and begin to rebuild itself from ash and ruin, restore trust and peace among itself and the public, and begin anew to do the great work it has done in decades past.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading Please See The Following Links and Articles –

The Local Sweden: "Names of Nobel Prize winners were leaked: report,"

Sveriges Radio: "Witnesses: Arnault revealed Nobel laureates,"

SVT Nyheter: "Arnault revealed Nobel laureates in advance, according to witnesses,"

SVT Nyheter: "Anna Kölén: The Academy should publish the investigation,"

SVT Nyheter: "Katarina Frostenson ready to negotiate exit,"

Sveriges Radio - The Swedish Academy General Meeting [Photo]

Monday 10 December 2018

Nelly Sachs, Honoured with Google Doodle

Hello Gentle Reader

If you are a resident of the United Kingdom, Germany, Bulgaria, Israel, Sweden or the United States of America, you would have seen a doodle on Google, commemorating Nelly Sachs’ 127th birthday.

The illustration (which is displayed below) was designed and drawn by the German-Finnish artist Daniel Stolle. This doodle can also be found on the Google Doodles—Nelly Sach - Google Doodle Archive

[Please follow the yellow link noted above - it will also lead you to see earlier compositions as well as the finished product. Each one magnificent.

The illustration perfectly captures the works of Nelly Sach:

The type writer in the suitcase, displaying both her talents and occupation as a writer, and the fact she and her mother fled Germany during the opening of the Second World War, as they were Jewish. The pages of the type writer fling and fly forward into a starry sky. In the sky to hands seek each out, over a landscape reflecting of Sachs’ life, Berlin on fire due to the war. The chimneys of the concentration camps. The sanctuary of Stockholm, Sweden.

A few notes on Nelly Sachs’ life:

Sach was born December 10th, 1891. She was born into a wealthy Jewish-German family during this time, and showed a proclivity for literary pursuits early on. She found mild success in the 1920’s as a writer, when her work was featured in a few magazines. Despite growing up in a wealthy upper-middle class family, Nelly Sachs’ childhood was regarded as being alienating and lonely; but she developed a great correspondence with fellow writers which included, Paul Celan (who she once affectionately referred to as ‘brother,’) and the Swedish author, Nobel Laureate and member of the Swedish Academy Selma Lagerlöf.

It was thanks to her correspondence with Selma Lagerlöf that Sach and her mother were able to flee Germany during the rise of Nazism and anti-Semitism, and take refuge in Sweden. There Sach supported her mother and herself by translating works from Swedish into German, and her poetry began to mature and change its perspective, though not without considerable strain both mentally and emotionally.

Nelly Sachs’ poems are noted for their discussion of the fate of the Jewish people during the holocaust. Though her poems are noted for their elegiac tone and their preoccupation with remembering those who were lost, they also express forgiveness and metamorphosis, as well as freedom from suffering, pain, and the horrors of the time. She was often considered a striking paradox of poet, a frail almost bird like woman who had the powerful lung capacity to shake the walls with her verse.

Nelly Sach is also a Nobel Laureate in Literature, specifically 1966, though she shared the award with the then renowned Hebrew writer, Shmuel Yosef Agnon. The Swedish Academy hotly debated the merits of Sach (she had a relatively small output of work—but a powerful one) her work had gained the recognition and support of also prominent members of the Swedish Academy, who continually advocated for her work. Opposition though was not lacking. Some members (though mainly Anders Österling) felt she could not support the entire Nobel Prize for Literature on her own; not surprising Österling was a greater fan of Shmuel Yosef Agnon.

Before she won the Nobel Prize for Literature, Sach won the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade. Upon receiving the award she stated: “I believe in you.”—Perhaps meaning Germany’s desire to never commit the atrocities that had been perpetrated years prior.

Despite being known as a poet of mourning, of remembrance and the penance of memory, of elegizing the suffering, and immortalizing those who had suffered; Sachs’ is also a poet of forgiveness and metamorphosis.

In her Nobel acceptance speech she recounted how her father would state, on the tenth of December in her hometown of Berlin: “Now they celebrate the Nobel ceremony in Stockholm.”

Today the Nobel Ceremonies will take place. Unfortunately no Literature prize will be handed out this year. Thankfully to googles doodle though, those fortunate enough will be able to reconsider and reflect on perhaps one of the most overlooked poets of the twentieth century: Nelly Sach—who on this day fifty-two years ago: “a fairytale has come true.”

If one final note should be made about the doodle it is this: it is artfully done, capturing Sachs’ preoccupations with writing and the suffering caused by the holocaust; but most importantly the ability of the human spirit to change and become something new, and the ever powerful process of forgiveness.  

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

All Rights to Daniel Stolle 

Thursday 6 December 2018

The Closed Company

 Hello Gentle Reader

Earlier this week the Swedish Appeals Court, found Jean-Claude Arnault’s initial conviction not only stood, but also added another six months to his sentence, while finding him guilty of a second rape. Arnault continues to profess his innocence with relation to the charges, and his lawyers announced they plan on appealing this added conviction further to the Supreme Court.

Friend and ally Horace Engdahl has refuted the court’s decision as baseless, and decried the extended prison sentence and added conviction as unjustified, due to the evidence being testimonial in nature, with little to no ‘physical evidence,’ produced by either the prosecutes or accusers. Beyond throwing his support behind Jean-Claude Arnault, Horace Engdahl has also once again taken it upon himself to offer a dissenting opinion of the current gender divide forming in the world. His new book “De Obekymrade,” or “The Obsessed,” Engdahl takes aim and issue with the current fragmenting social climate. It’s considered a personal polemic testament and observation of social movements currently at work—specifically the ‘MeToo Movement.’ When discussing “De Obekymrade,” stated it will offer the perspective from the other side of the conversation and reaffirmed it is not a misogynistic manifesto.

Despite this, Horace Engdahl then makes a ludicrous claim in another direction, which undermines his previous statements. In refrence to the recent departure of Jayne Svenungsson and alluding to: Sara Stridsberg, Sara Danius, Lotta Lotass as well as Katarina Frostenson) Horacen Engdahl proposes that men are perhaps better equipped to dealing with the power struggles, pressures, and extreme stresses associated with institutions like the Swedish Academy, in a recent documentary with Sveriges Television.

As for the fate of former Permanent Secretary Sara Danius, it has been reported that she is considering returning to her work with the Swedish Academy. According to an article with Expressen, Sara Danius had stated she would wait for the court’s decision before she decided to either move into an active role with the Swedish Academy or remain passive. In the meantime she was featured in a calendar photoshoot celebrating the ‘MeToo Movement,’ where she was depicted as Joan of Arc, with an ensemble of armour and sword. For now it appears Sara Danius will remain passive or inactive with matters concerning the Swedish Academy.

Katarina Frostenson remains the greatest liability for the Swedish Academy. Despite being declawed and toothless, the notoriety of her husband’s conviction and his previous behaviors will shadow her; not to mention her own lacking moral compass with regards to ethics on conflicts of interest, especially of a financial nature. Yet, the Swedish Academy continues to hold a stony silence with regards to the Frostenson problem. The academy has requested she voluntarily resign from her seat and she refuses, going so far as to hire a lawyer to help navigate the legal proceedings she herself may face, as the Swedish Academy once again takes the mantel of an investigation to inspect and examine her alleged transgressions.

Yet it is not entirely fair to crucify Katarina Frostenson as the only member who should resign from her seat with the academy. There are a few members who have failed astronomically in their duties past and present both as Permanent Secretaries as well as members of the academy. They have shown themselves to lack moral probity, sober thought, clear and concise perspective, and an ability to rely on simple principles and pillar of justice. These members have been quick to criticize the short comings of others in order to protect either their own personal vested interest or reputation, often at the expense of the academy’s reputation, and on the backs of other members. These members have proven themselves to being rotten and lacking in simple ideas of comradery beyond their corrupted version. Their actions along with the scandal, have subsequently tarnished the Nobel Prize for Literature, and forced the Nobel Foundation to demand caveats and concessions, as well as suggest amendments and reforms on the threat of punitive action.

Next year there is the expectation the Swedish Academy will announce two winners for the Nobel Prize for Literature, to make up for this year’s postponement. The question is, will the chosen writes accept the award, or will the Nobel Prize rise above the trivialities of scandal and remain a shining golden beacon of culture and literary merit?

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading (and watching) –

Sveriges Television - Documentary - "The Closed Company," 

The Globe & Mail: "Swedish court adds second rape conviction for man in Nobel scandal,"

SVT Nyheter: "Horace Engdahl on the new book: "Will beat the pure feminists"'

Expressen: "Sara Danius: "I am a passive member, I wait and see"

Tuesday 4 December 2018

Even in Hell There’s Human Resources

Hello Gentle Reader

Human Resources as a business function is best defined as: the organizational unit which seeks to recruit, acquire, promote and retain the human assets of an organization or corporation. This is why individuals who are employed by human resources often squeak with bubbly glee: “we manage people.” That’s right Gentle Reader; human resources are the people behind those oddly worded and verbose job postings, which include lines like the following:

“[You bring] An optimal combination of passion and drive, technical expertise, interposal skills, creativity and customer focus.”—Despite the fact that the posting had already laid out its required professional experience and educational background, prior.

“[Young bring] Strong communication and influencing skills with the ability to present complex issues effectively”—Influencing skills—how sociopathic in nature.

“[You are] A self-starter, someone who can work individually while also a team.”—You are able to work independently and get your work done, while Susan is playing on Facebook next to you.

“[You are] Safety conscious,”—You won’t get hurt or killed in the next six months.

“[You bring] a passion for technology, people and process.”—It’s an information technology job, they are passionate about technology—people questionable.

“[You bring] strong oral, verbal, and written communication and presentation skills, with the ability to lead a conversation.”—First off ‘oral,’ and ‘verbal,’ are the same, pick one or the other, either or would have made the point; using both together only makes the statement redundant and the poster to appear stupid. Furthermore, why not just leave the sentence at: ‘strong oral and written communication skills.’ Leading a conversation as a requirement or skills sounds absurd.

Those long winded, overwritten, redundant job postings Gentle Reader, are done up by the ebullient Barb at human resources. Some call her ‘Bubbly Barb,’—most call her: ‘Bubonic Barb.’ The leader of each department or business unit sends their position proposal and posting to human resources to review. There it is reviewed before an administrator—like Barb—shrugs her shoulders over the professionally worded job posting, and decides to colour it up with her human resources lingo, whereby a initial short and sweet document has exploded into the ruminations and verbiage of a department who is out of touch and out of control.

A quick search via the internet or casual conversation with an individual (or any individual), and all will inform you of the horrors of human resources. Almost everyone has a painful and dreadful story about a human resources encounter. After all: they are the corporate cancer, and the exhaustion of employees.

The question of what makes human resources so hotly hated varies. Some proclaim it’s due to its desire to being bureaucratically bulbous, road blocking needed change and corporate renovations, for the sheer sake of flexing its muscles to show its own importance and weight. While in other circumstances, it institutes redundant policies and procedures to make the organization convoluted and complicated, while also attaching penalties and punitive action to misdemeanors and other offences to ensure compliance and control is maintained. In this fashion, human resources believes, it sits at the pinnacle of organizations and corporations; whereby it is no longer a servant or worker, but master and ruler. Though technically it does not sit at the top of the organizational chart or the corporate food chain; it does exist and thrive in the shadow of those who do occupy those radiant reigning positions. In these shadowy refuses human resources exercises soft powers and self-important bureaucratic authority.

Soft power by human resources is the institution of the now famous term: corporate (organizational) culture. This is the propaganda machine of human resources. Corporate cultures have been designed and created by human resources to institute a sense of commodity and unity amongst employees, while also building bridges with employers. This is the part of an organization where you will hear employees talk about going from adequate to acceptable, or striving for mediocrity, or searching for the last doughnut. This is where human resources uses its acute communication skills—also known as: “leading conversation abilities,” “oral and verbal presentation services,” and “influencing talents,”—to concoct a cult like concoction reminiscent of Jones Town; or a soviet era ideology to subdue and subject both employee and employer to a rigid code of conduct, based on a set concept of values and beliefs, promoted by the company and embodied in both management and employee. Here you will find internal staff training being promoted and propagated by human resources, who also willing facilitates these indoctrinating courses. Terms such as: open door policy, open dialogue, entrepreneurial spirit, creative ideas, among a plethora of other related terms, are discussed and shared to employees both new and old, as well as the eluded expectation that employees are expected to embody and behave by this culture.

Bureaucratic authority is the true power of human resources. The business department of human resources believes itself to be a corporate management function following the mandate that it manages human assets. In this case, human resources believes itself to be referee of the organization, whereby it listens to both the banes of employees and the concerns of the employer, at which point human resources plays itself out as the meditating mediator. Reality, the concern or the complaint is lost in the bowels of the paper pushing procrastination. Then comes the policies on respectful workplace, which no one reads and no one follows, and human resources never enforces. Then there is the continual issue organizations have with the department, whereby they are forbidden from dismissing employees on any grounds out of the speculative fear of a lawsuit. On the flipside (and this is a true story) when an employee has been threatened at work and saw fit to call the authorities, the following day human resources takes it upon itself to schedule an impromptu meeting with the employee and harass them and belittle them over their actions by calling the police officer. Apparently, in such situations human resources felt it was more important for the employee to fill out an ‘incident report,’ and file it with safety to have it reviewed, despite the aggressive actions being made towards the employee during the situation.

Human resources believes itself to fulfill two functions: on one function it’s the potluck Peggy, always there with store bought cookies that were secretly microwaved just before the function, whereby she passes them off as just homemade. Then there is bureaucratic Bethany, with clipboard in hand she can deny and authorize—but most importantly deny, all actions the employees or the employer seeks to enact; be it recruitment or dismissal; but rest assured if a potluck is involved, its budget will blow  up and its approval will be guaranteed. Where else would Peggy be able to share her ‘homemade,’ cookies?

It comes to no surprise that the business unit that prides itself as the function which manages human assets is also named the greatest perpetrator or most complaint with workplace harassment—at least according to lawsuits. In a recent lawsuit filed against Microsoft, roughly 8, 360 women (information technology specialist and engineers) claim the company had denied them a total of 518 promotions, and a $100 million to $238 million dollars’ worth of pay between two-thousand and eleven and two-thousand and sixteen. Throughout the lawsuit, human resources is depicted and displayed as an incompetent and discriminatory faction within the organization, one which never investigated serious concerns brought to its attention, or reviewed policy infractions. Instead the lawsuit claims the department which manages people, had instead casually observed the situation with disinterest. In the event the human resources department did deem it appropriate to get involved, it only caused the issues to escalate further. Though the lawsuit is new, the issues presented by the plaintiffs and their depiction of human resources, is not new. A simple search via the internet and one will find forums, posts, discussions, blogs and tweets about the horrors of human resources; its inefficacies, its brutal chauvinistic attitude, its bureaucratic dominance, and its churlish promotion and propagating of corporate propaganda.

When I envision hell, I imagine human resources is managing the place. Right at death the bureaucratic process must start, with one waiting at the brimstone gates to gain entry. Only you have to sit through hours upon hours of orientation material, aptitude tests, and a three stage interview process. Afterwards you are admitted with a number, at which point you are to meet with your human resources case manager who will go over the specifics of your eternal stay, and will be a continual resource throughout your eternity of suffering. From there you are transferred to Peggy’s welcoming potluck, so you might as well have a cookie. Afterwards suffering should commence, but it doesn’t; its back to upgrading your orientation skills, going through safety protocols, and doing a lengthy review survey to share your experience so far. Apparently during this time someone complained about your performance, and you need to sit in front of disciplinary Deborah, who happens to be out of the office, so take a seat in the waiting room. When dear old disciplinary Deborah returns, she explains in her usual disgruntled and overworked manner that the complaint has been lost or transferred to your case manager. Your case manager is busy so you’re going to have to take a number and wait once again. You try to explain that she said you could use her anytime as a resource, there mocking Mitchell explains that can’t be true and tells you take your seat. However long later (time has no meaning in eternity) mocking Mitchell informs  you the complaint has been lost but you’ve missed required courses to move forward, and you are immediately thrust into a course about diversity and inclusion, followed by another on the theories of unconscious bias, and then a lecture on respectful workplace and emotional intelligence. Welcome to hell, Human Resources is here to help.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading:

Fortune: "HR Is Not Your Friend: Here's Why," 

Monday 19 November 2018

The Swedish Academy Compromises with the Nobel Foundation

Hello Gentle Reader

The Swedish Academy has not only been bitterly divided internally, due to the spring sexual assault scandal, but also with the Nobel Foundation. As the scandal erupted and the Swedish Academy blew into disarray, the Nobel Foundation observed with concern, before deciding to see if it could help mediate and mitigate the crisis. The Swedish Academy immediately rebuked the offer of assistance, forcing the Nobel Foundation take a different stance with the crisis, where it applied pressure to the Swedish Academy to either straighten its affairs, or have the Nobel Prize stripped from it as an institution.

Initially the Nobel Foundation expressed concern for the Swedish Academy to maintain the integrity of the Nobel Prize for Literature, while it worked to reestablish its own reputation. The Nobel Foundation had expressed concern the scandal would tarnish and if not completely deprive the award of its own merit; therefore, the Nobel Foundation proposed to the Swedish Academy that a temporary Nobel Committee would be enacted to create a shortlist of potential winners for the Nobel Prize for Literature, which would allow the Swedish Academy to rectify and rebuild itself after the scandal. Not surprisingly the Swedish Academy rejected this offer.

Today, however, Gentle Reader the Swedish Academy has come to a compromise with the Nobel Foundation, they will allow an extra five external members to sit on the Nobel Committee to help them select a shortlist of authors who may receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. This temporary extension of the Nobel Committee is as follows:

The initial Nobel Committee:

Chairman – Per Wastberg
(pro-tempore) Permanent Secretary – Anders Olsson
Horace Engdahl
Kristina Lugn
Jesper Svenbro

The new external members are:

Mikaela Blomqvist (literary critic)
Rebecka Karde (literary critic)
Kristoffer Leandoer (literary critic and writer)
Gun-Britt Sundstrom (translator)
Henrik Petersen (publisher)

This temporary Nobel committee will not begin work until January of 2019, and is set to stay in place until 2020.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

For Further Reading --

CBC: "Outsiders join Swedish Academy to pick Nobel Literature winners,"

Friday 16 November 2018

Ida Vitale wins the 2018 Cervantes Prize

Hello Gentle Reader

The Uruguayan poet, Ida Vitale has won this year’s Miguel de Cervantes Prize (also known as: The Cervantes Prize).

Ida Vitale is considered one of the greatest posts of the Spanish language, as well as one of the greatest writers heralding from Uruguay, though she no longer resides in the nation, which she fled after 1973 due to a military junta taking political control and power of the country. During this time she fled to Mexico City, before finally settling in Austin, Texas. During her initial literary career she belonged to the literary group, deemed: Generation 45, which comprised of a, group writers (mainly from Uruguay) whose literary careers where nurtured or begun between: 1945-1950. She is now the sole survivor of the group, at the age of 95.

The jury for the Cervantes Prize has praised Ida Vitales poetry which they called both universal and personal, while also being able to balance popularity and accessibility, while maintaining its intellectual powers and observations. Her poems are renowned for their sparseness in form and often simple language eschewing ostentatious pomp and pretense. Yet her language and form never dismiss the larger questions of life, meaning, and philosophy, as the search and discover of hope is never a wasted venture.  

The Cervantes Prize is often noted as the Spanish Language Nobel, as it considered one of the most lucrative literary awards in the Spanish language, with a prize amount consist of €125, 000 (Euros); or $186, 658..31 Canadian Dollars; or $141, 782.03 American Dollars; or £ 110,825.91 English Pounds. The relation between the Cervantes Prize and the Nobel Prize for Literature does not just end at the lucrative paycheque awaiting the fortunate author, many authors who have received the Cervantes Prize have also gone on to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature including: Octavio Paz, who won the Cervantes Prize in 1981 and would receive the Nobel nine years later in 1990 and Mario Vargas Llosa won the Cervantes Prize in 1994, and would receive the Nobel Prize in 2010; Camilo Jose Cela on the other hand, won the Nobel Prize for Literature first in 1989 and would receive the Cervantes Prize six years later in 1995.

Many great Spanish language authors have received the Cervantes Prize without receiving the Nobel nod. This includes Cuban avant-garde writer and precursor to Magical Realism, Alejo Carpentier; Carlos Fuentes the giant of Mexican literature, and considered one of the most prominent members of the Latin American Boom; the reclusive Cuban poet and pre-revolutionary lyricist Dulce María Loynaz; as well as the post-Spanish civil war, Grand Dame of Letters, Ana María Matute.

Since 1996, the Cervantes Prize had operated under a loose convention: one year the award would go to a European (Spanish) author, while the next year the award would be received by a South American author. Now over two decades later, this convention has been broken with two South American authors being awarded simultaneously after each other: Sergio Ramírez, from Nicaragua won the award in 2017; while this year’s award goes to the The Uruguayan poet, Ida Vitale.

The Cervantes Prize is not the only award; Ida Vitale has found herself accepting in recent memory. Back in September she was the recipient of the FIL Prize in Romance Languages, which seeks to award an author from one of the romance languages (Catalan, French, Galician, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian or Spanish), for a lifetime achievement in their chosen field be it: fiction or prose, creative non-fiction or essays, or poetry. Ida Vitale received the award for her commitment to the poetic form, and maintaining its vitality through her craft.

Congratulations to Ida Vitale, for her deserved honours of the year; she is a remarkable poet, chronicler and testifier to the resilient path of poetry as both a literary form of existence but also commentator of beauty.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

Thursday 15 November 2018

Fernando del Paso, Dies Aged 83

Hello Gentle Reader

Fernando del Paso was one of the giants of Mexican literature, with company including: Carlos Fuentes, Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz, Sergio Pitol, and Elena Poniatowska. Much like Sergio Pitol and Octavio Paz, Fernando del Paso also served as a diplomat for the Mexican Consul, while also working for the BBC, while living in London and Radio France. Beyond his work in broadcasting and diplomacy, Fernando del Paso forged a career in literary pursuits, and became one of Mexico’s most renowned and internationally successful authors. His most successful novel “News from the Empire,” depicts the short reign of Emperor Maximilian I of Mexico. Yet it defies traditional historical tropes, and has been described as a ‘histographic,’ novel, one in which intends to explore the multiple possibilities and versions of events and controversial moments. Beyond writing novels, Fernando del Paso wrote essays, poetry, and children’s books, as well as painting and explore the visual media arts. Fernando del Paso was awarded the Miguel de Cervantes Prize in two-thousand and fifteen, and before his death was the librarian overseeing the Octavio Paz Library.

The passing of Fernando del Paso is a loss to Mexico’s cultural and literary scene, as well as their arts. His novels were unique and exploratory; his interest in promoting and preserving Mexican cultural evident and apparent.

Rest in Peace, Fernando del Paso.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

Friday 9 November 2018

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, Wins Nordic Council's Literature Prize

Hello Gentle Reader,

The Nordic Council’s Prize for Literature is such a quiet award; one is forgiven for not realizing it had been taking place. Generally speaking the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize is overshadowed by the Nobel Prize for Literature, in early October, and as the world reacts and responds to the winner; quietly in the peripherals the Nordic Council Prize names its winner for the year. Often nicknamed ‘The Little Nobel,’ the Nodic Council’s Literature Prize is awarded annually to a writer hailing from one of the Nordic nations (Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Finland) as well as other regional areas and principalities (Greenland, the Faroe Islands, and Åland Islands) as well as linguistic regions such as the Sami Language region, which includes the northern regions of: Norway, Sweden, Finland and North-West Russia.

The inaugural award was first given to, Eyvind Johnson and his famous novel: “The Days of His Grace,” in 1962. At the time Eyvind Johnson was a revered and renowned groundbreaking modernist Swedish writer. Though he is perhaps most notoriously remembered for the Nobel Prize for Literature debacle of 1974, where Eyvind Johnson was awarded the prize alongside Harry Martinson—both writers were members of the Swedish Academy.

Since then the award has gone to many prominent writers from region such as: Jon Fosse (2015) for his, “Trilogy,” Naja Marie Aidt (2008) for her short story collection, “Baboon,” Merethe Lindstrøm (2012) for her novel “Days in the History of Silence,” Sjon (2005) for his novel, “The Blue Fox,” Tua Forsström (1998) for her poetry collection, “After Having Spent a Night Among Horses,” Per Petterson (2009) “I Curse the River of Time,” and Sofi Oksanen (2010) for her novel “Purge.” Other writers of prominence who have received the award include: former Swedish Academy members, Sara Stridsberg and Kerstin Ekman; disgraced Swedish Academy member, Katarina Frostenson; Norwegian heavyweight Dag Solstad, and Swedish poet Göran Sonnevi.

This year’s Nordic Council’s Literature Prize winner is Icelandic novelist, poet, and playwright: Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, for her novel “Ör,” which has been translated into English as: “Hotel Silence.” The novel was praised by the jury for its emotional resonance and subtle humour, as it traces an emotional disenfranchised man from contemplating suicide, to finding hope and purpose in a stateless land on the brink of political upheaval and collapse. The novel questions the entitlements and privileges of the individual versus the collective, and with vital and invigorated language asks existential ponderings about life and death, as well as purpose and meaning in a world perpetually influx. It’s a novel which testifies to the resilient human tenacity and spirit.

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir has become the most recent Icelandic author to win the award, after Gyrðir Elíasson (2011) with his short story collection, “Milli trjánna,” or “Through the Trees,” which has yet to be translated into English.

Other writers nominated for this years, Nordic Council's Literature Prize included, the Finnish-Swedish Language dramatist, novelist and short story writer, Susanne Ringell, who was nominated alongside her short story collection: “God morgon,” or “Good Morning.” Secretly, I had hoped Ringell and her short story collection would receive the award, as she appears to be a striking and unique writer, who has yet been translated into English. Swedish dramatist, poet, literary critic and novelist, Agneta Pleijel was also nominated for the award, for her novel “Doften av en man,” or “The Scent of a Man,” which had won the Swedish Academy Nordic Prize back in the spring. She also beat the Finnish poet superstar and Runeberg Poetry winner, Olli-Pekka Tennilä and his poetry collection: “Ontto harmaa,” or “Hollow Grey.”

Congratulations to Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir, on receiving this year’s Nordic Council’s Literature Prize.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well

M. Mary  

Jayne Svenungsson, Resigns from the Swedish Academy

Hello Gentle Reader

Jayne Svenungsson becomes the latest member to formally recuse herself from the Swedish Academy.  Jayne Svenungsson was the most recently elected member of the Swedish Academy. She was appointed to the Academy in September 2017, and was formally elected December 20th 2017, to Chair No. 9, succeeding the late author Torgny Lindgren. After her election, the Swedish Academy soon found itself embroiled in scandal and crisis. She was one of the members who initially voted against the expulsion of Katarina Frostenson; and remained silent and absent from all public discourse and dissidence that took place following the decision, which included Sara Danius resigning from her position as Permanent Secretary, and becoming inactive alongside, Peter Englund and Kjell Espmark.

Since the spring crisis, the Swedish Academy has been actively seeking to resolve the scandal crisis. Through most of it, the academy has often been reduced to putting out the fires as they begin, rather than preventing them being started. The Nobel Foundation has been vocal in its disproval and disappointment in the Swedish Academy, and has been actively applying pressure to the Swedish Academy, to get its affairs in order. In the autumn, however, the Swedish Academy has since sought to improve its situation by reviewing and renewing its statutes, and seeking to update its internal governance policies and procedures. Afterwards it sought to fill the vacant seats, and so far has appointed three new members, who will be elected in a formal ceremony on December 20th. When it comes to the question of the fate of Katarina Frostenson, the Swedish Academy has issued a letter to the poet, asking her to voluntarily resign from the academy. As it stands, Katarina Frostenson has refused to voluntarily remove herself from the academy, and has hired legal representation to represent her case and perspective to the academy, as they bring in a new investigation with regards to allegations of her breaking the statute of secrecy and confidentiality, conflicts of interest between her own private and personal business and her membership with the Swedish Academy, as well the issue of financial mismanagement.

As for Jayne Svenungsson, she has remained polite with her resignation and exit of the Swedish Academy. She has stated she had decided to stay on with the Swedish Academy to assist in making important decisions and elections of new members. Now that the Swedish Academy has begun to find its feet again, Jayne Svenungsson has decided to withdraw from it and work full time as professor of Systematic Theology at Lund University.

With the departure of Jayne Svenungsson, there is now only one female member participating in the Swedish Academy: dramatist and poet: Kristina Lugn, on Chair No. 14.

Jayne Svenungssons resignation has dampened the mood of the Swedish Academy, with members having no desire to answer any questions regarding her departure. Yet, pro tempore Permanent Secretary Anders Olsson, did respond to a few questions, and stated he was not disappointed in Jayne Svenungsson or her departure, and stated the situation is understandable, as the academy has been at war with itself since her election. Since then, member after member has resigned after a tumultuous scandal had erupted. In her parting wards, Jayne Svenungsson hopes the Swedish Academy will regain its prominence as a cultural institution, but believes her time is best suited as a fulltime professor at Lund University.  

The departure would best be described as bitter sweet and even perhaps a sorrowful note for some. To be appointed to the Swedish Academy must ring with the sweetest silver bells. After all it’s an institution of select and few seats, and appointments are hard to come by. Yet what happens when the silver dream turns into a rusted iron nightmare? Sadly for Jayne Svenungsson her Swedish Academy dream has been tarnished by the institution, and certain members, and eventually it turned into a full nightmare. How disappointing it must be for Jayne Svenungsson, to have seen what is coveted, only to find the gold is plated and stripping to reveal rusted iron, and an academy rotting to its core.

Though the Swedish Academy has had a few success this autumn, there is still a lot of work ahead. The most pressing is dealing with the issue of Katarina Frostenson, the second retaining current members, as well as perhaps inviting and welcoming the return of others by concession and compromise.

In the end: one can only wish Jayne Svenungsson the best of luck as she peruses her academic career.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Departing Deft Critics

Hello Gentle World

Do to the current state of the world one is often given the impression they are living in the twilight hours of the end of the world. Recent articles having shown just how unsettled and dystopian the world truly is—or perhaps via a cynics stand point: always has been. The United Nations released a frightening and eye opening report and testament on climate change, and how splinter close the world is to entering irreversible climate catastrophic measures. Those who have not opened up their eyes to the reality the danger poses are worrisome creatures. Climate change can no longer be denied as hoax or myth or scientifically unproven—its happening, and unfortunately we all live on this planet, and if it becomes inhabitable, then we will die alongside it. The current political climate would be called more divisive then it has been in recent memory. A political correct totalitarian left has in turn created a populist fueled reactionary right, which takes fascist rhetoric to authoritarian measures. Politically speaking, any centre situated politic is now longer available. Everyday somewhere in this world there is a terrible political beast rising to power. Democracy, liberty, independence, free speck—pillars of principles—fall to the wayside and are banished as afterthoughts to the attics of antiquarian values. Just the other day Brazil elected Jair Bolsonaro—a retired military officer turned politician, whose campaign style and rhetoric mirrored and shadowed a similar one seen of others in recent memory. Then of course there is the case of murdered journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was killed inside the Saudi Arabian embassy in Istanbul, Turkey. The act has been speculated to have been condoned and even ordered by Saudi Arabian crown prince, Mohammad bin Salman. The reaction by western leaders has been vocal and verbal, but nothing beyond that. Leading one to question whether or not any action will be taken. Turkeys president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has been the most vocal critic of the entire situation, going so far as to demand the eighteen men who are suspected of participating the murder be extradited, as well as the relinquishment of the Turkish citizen who is suspected of concealing Khashoggis body. The desert kingdom has so far denied the request for extradition, failed to provide a reason or excuse for their suspected behaviour, and has no cooperated with international judicial processes. For this Turkish President Erdoğan has gone so far as to criticize and theorize the Saudi Arabian government is protecting the suspects from all judicial inquires and justice. Looking further east, the political situation in China has become increasingly frightening, as Xi Jinping has consolidated the most power within the communist nation since Mao Zedong. Jinping has also aggressively squashed dissidence, freedom of speech, as well as utilized a new anti-corruption commission to politically terrorize and detain opponents, such as Interpol’s Chief, Meng Hongwei; as well as the squashing student protests and magazines in Hong Kong. These coupled with an aggressive foreign policy which desires expansionism, has created turbulent and troubling times in the Far East. Then of course there is the nuclear position of the United States and Russia; not to mention the caprice exhibited by (North) Korea. Russian President, Vladimir Putin, recently gave scathing remarks on the unadvisable decision it would be for any foreign power to attempt or decide to begin a nuclear war with the nation. Then there is the sheer act of mindless violence, such as the recent mass shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. The sheer act of anti-Semitism is disturbed and equally disgusting. The political response was of course asinine and revolting. No place of worship should ever be required to have an armed guard on its premises, and no politician should ever be so absurd as to make the suggestion, let alone call it a solution.

The literary world has been described by some as in equally dire straits. Though, the literary world is not sitting in the blue waiting room of waning twilight, patient and watching for the nuclear-green dawn of the of days. The literary world by comparison is sitting alone by a nearly extinguished fire, in a old and worn leather armchair which it can’t possibly part with, wrapped in a violet shawl of dusk, and starring across the room of shadows into the ultramarine and indigo nothingness of a future which may not exist—or at least not exist, comparable to the nostalgic silvery twinkle of the receding stars of its past. A casual internet search will always herald the end; be it: the death of the novel; the obliteration of poetry—often called stuffy, pretentious and uncommunicative—the dwindling importance of dramatic writing for the stage, now being replaced for scriptwriting for film; the abandonment of the short story; and now: the dismal departure and decline of literary criticism and theory, as a culturally necessary form and institution, to weigh, direct and influence the literary tastes of the era.

Back in two-thousand and nine Kirkus Reviews shut its doors and ceased to produce any new anonymous reviews. Kirkus Reviews was famous and notorious for its reviews, which both writers and agents dreaded. For this the anonymous critics and reviewers for the review were scoffed and scalded at by writers, while also simultaneously being utilized by publishers when a book received a positive review and recognition. Then there was the famous literary critic for the New York Times, Michiko Kakutani, who was revered and feared by both readers and writers. Kakutani was unapologetic, acerbic, and cared little for how established a writer was, if shew viewed their work as subpar, she had no issue in stating just that. Michiko Kakutani has also been known for being instrumental on elevating writers into more prominent positions which includes: Jonathan Franzen, David Foster Wallace, George Saunders and Mary Karr. Yet despite boosting their writing careers, some have still hissed and spat venom at her as well. Such as Jonathan Franzen, who once famously called her: “the stupidest person in New York City,” when she (perhaps rightfully) criticised his memoir, “The Discomfort Zone,” as a: “[ . . . ] odious self-portrait of the artist as a young jackass: petulant, pompous, obsessive, selfish and overwhelmingly self-absorbed.” In two-thousand and seventeen, Michiko Kakutani retired from the New York Times as its chief book critic. Recently she has published her own piece of non-fiction: “Death of Truth,” where she horrifyingly observes how the populace has decided to believe in ‘alternative facts,’ and blatant fabrications and fallacies as fact, by a man who has been elected to an office, and who is conventionally responsible to be a voice of virtue, morality, ethics, and obligations for a nation; but instead dismisses and creates divisions for further unconditional attempts at consolidation of greater power and authority. Despite not being a literary critic, willing praise and shred by the mood of the day, Michiko Kakutani has been able to maintain a skeptical mind, a potent eye, a sturdy hand and a sharp tongue turned pen to criticize and offer a sober thought on pressing matters. In this case politics—or more precisely the contemporary dirty business of politics, in an era where facts, logic and police are a mere afterthought.

As book sales (which include novels, short stories, and poetry collections) fall to the wayside in favour of other storytelling mediums: movies, television and video games—the requirement for a literary critic also falls. Do not be mistaken though: books are still important, and people still hanker for a story; though they may not be interested in literary pomp and stylistic techniques which only exist and serve the purpose to showcase an author’s powers. Readers still exist, but tolerance for any piece of work which becomes hermetic or cloistered off is less tolerable, as it cannot engage the reader or hold their attention. Then there is the select few who hanker for the more unique, experimental and literary quality oriented pieces of work—such as myself Gentle Reader, who cannot stand the idea of reading just a common novel or short story collection. Preference is for something with riveting language, unique exploration, and a good discussion of a potent theme; story and plot can always come second. Even then though attention is in demand, and it cannot be held, the book does not hold up.

If declining book sales are not the sole reason literary critics are quietly departing into the rafters, their opinions and their reviews now no longer needed, then what is the biggest driving force behind the decline of literary criticism and literary critics? The answer is: popular cultural demand. In today’s contemporary world, people distrust ‘experts,’—including doctors, lawyers, and judges and so on. The youth of today and the previous generation have all be taught they have a tongue, two vocal cords, a brain and reasonable ability which grants them the ability to speak. This has also been pumped up with a undescribed dosage of self-esteem and self-confidence. These same individuals believe that because they have an opinion and a voice and reasonable abilities that now everyone should be able to hear them or read them, and be enlightened by their opinions. In today’s world everyone has a blog, vlog, twitter account—an avenue in which they can express and proclaim their opinions. These same people are not necessarily experts, rather they share a passion or an interest, or just enjoy the activity and would just like to carve out a space for themselves to write their opinions and their reviews, and they do—and this would also include me. Subsequently these opinions, perspectives, and reviews are all online and for free. There is no need for a magazine subscription, and there is no monetary loss. Suddenly people can see what an average or passionate reader thinks about a piece of work without them being an expert. The issue moves beyond a popular culture one, where people prefer or demand or respect the opinions of those they view as equal. Part of the problem also exists with the literary world’s inability to change and adjust with the times. Literary criticism in particular failed to scrape out its own existence for itself, or renew the lease on its old market; publishers also failed to see the changing times, and are now in a reactionary mode trying to keep up with the changing climate and culture of the information age. Suddenly the book market is flooded with a glut of authors, from established, to debut, to self-published, to be recently translated, and so and so forth. There are few gatekeepers at the helm to watch over the floodgates, so the work keeps pouring out and demanding a reader of some sorts; and though they won’t admit: they also need a critic; someone to analyze and curiously review the work. It’s not always pretty, it’s not always funny, and it’s not always graceful. Kirkus Reviews may have departed nine years ago, and Michiko Kakutani may have retired. The torch is not extinguished and there is hope. It’s just monetarily put in storage.

As the rest of the world sits and waits whether or not tomorrow: is the day; the literary world immobilized in its overstuffed, well-worn leather chair, caked in cobwebs and curiously staring into the inky shadows across the room, it wonders if there is a tomorrow for itself—a tomorrow like all those tomorrows from before. Only it can make that decision for itself. With renewed novelists and writers, there most certainly must be renewed and revised critics willing to play both friend and devil’s advocate. Someone who is willing to recommend for the shelf; while also ask that a book be tossed in the waste basket. If anything from the past is to be learned from critics is they have proven the pen is sharper, more unforgiving, and far more powerful than any sword or bomb. A few strikes of a pen and the words very well may outlast both author and critic, and damn a book for an eternity.

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary

Saturday 27 October 2018

Further News from the Swedish Academy

Hello Gentle Reader

Last week the Swedish Academy had released they have appointed a new member to its ranks: Mats Malm, a literature professor who has a specialization in ancient Nordic languages. Professor Mats Malm, becomes the newest recruit for the Swedish Academy, and will be formally elected during a ceremony on December 20th, whereby he will take his seat Chair No. 11, along with two other newly elected members: Justice Eric Runesson, and poet and author Jila Mossaed. Dramatist, poet, and novelist Niklas Rådström, is said to have received a request to join the Swedish Academy as well, but it appears has turned the offer down. Pro Tempore Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Anders Olsson has stated that Chair No. 13 formally held by Sara Stridsberg, will most likely remain vacant for the remainder of the year. Anders Olsson believes the Swedish Academy has found greater stability with the election of the three new members. Anders Olsson had stated the goal is to host an election in the early spring to fill Chair No. 13.

The situation and predicament of Katarina Frostenson has once again been raised. Anders Olsson stated it all depends on how, Frostenson responds to the request she voluntarily resigns. In the event she chooses not to resign from the Swedish Academy, she will be investigated with regards to the accusations and allegations of her breaking the statutes of secrecy, as well as the statute of conflict of interest. Otherwise, the situation of Katarina Frostenson remains unchanged; as it sits in the precarious purgatory of ambiguity.

Despite the waters of the Swedish Academy calming, back to their reflective glassy sheen, a few grumbles and bubbles escape the recently restored façade:

In an interview with the Times Literary Supplement Horace Engdahl commented on the situation of the Swedish Academy and called the times dangerous. He linked the recent social media movement (#MeToo) to the Reign of Terror in post-revolutionary France. In this same interview Horace Engdahl, rejected the depiction of fraternization he apparently had with Jean-Claude Aranult, the man recently convicted and associated with the erupting scandal for the Swedish Academy. During this interview Horace Engdahl also depicted himself as a causality of the movement and accusations against Arnault, and firmly stands by the fact everything he has stated and acted on, was done in with the hopes to sustain and maintain the Swedish Academy through the crisis. Though I do believe Horace Engdahl has in previous years always kept the Swedish Academy’s interests aligned with his own; the events of the scandal and his behavior would be questionable as to whether or not Engdahl was completely objective in his attempts to maintain the reputation of the academy; or perhaps lost the objectivity to the twirling swirls of the emotional undercurrents, as he sought to protect his friends: Jean-Claude Arnault and Katarina Frostenson. During the scandal, Horace Endgahl made churlish and bullheaded public accusations against the former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, as well as other members who left the Swedish Academy in the wake of the crisis. It became apparent that Horace Engdahl played politics during the crisis of the Swedish Academy, and he was publicly tried in the court of public opinion, where he was found guilty. During this time, Horace Engdahl was not interested in facilitating any dialogue with any member of the public of the time or the Swedish Academy itself, instead Engdahl dictated his interpretation of the facts, and propagated them with propagandist zeal. With regards to himself depicting himself as a victim during the situation, who had been unjustly been convicted—it would not be insufficient to state the grounds of his appeal are meritless. To this day, Horace Engdahl showcases and states implications he finds the conviction of Jean-Claude Arnault baffling, and even unwarranted. He lambasts and decries the treatment of Katarina Frostenson as unsavory and disagreeable, stating since the scandal and conviction of her husband she has always been referred to in the context of either the situation or as the wife, never as a prominent and groundbreaking poet of her generation. On these grounds, Horace Engdahl states, history will judge Katarina Frostenson with greater light, in which it will highlight her poetry over her marriage and the scandal of the Swedish Academy.

Though I do not necessarily disagree with everything Horace Engdahl has stated in his interview, it is easy to see how he erupted with such scolding venom during the scandal. I must concede that I do agree that the social media movement (#MeToo) has begin to lose its own merits, where it believes it can curtail the procedures of justice and the principles and pillars of a fair trial, whereby it seeks to publicly deface, slander, tar and feather the accused without any consequence to their own actions, and without providing any evidence other than accusations, allegations, with no to little testimony. With regards to Katarina Frostenson, I retain my stance that Frostenson had by all legal definitions—as well as definitions of reasonable common sense—would see that she had behaved and acted without moral probity or a sober ethical perspective in mind. Together with Jean-Claude Arnault (her husband) she had accepted financial assistance from the Swedish Academy, to help run the club Forum, again with her husband. This proven allegation, states alone she should have been expelled from the academy; but alas thanks in part to the machinations of Horace Engdahl, Sture Allen and Göran Malmqvist, the academy (by majority—with former member Sara Stridsberg abstaining) voted to allow Katarina Frostenson to retain her seat, and the subsequent scandal ensured, leaving the academy in its current predicament. Despite her lack of business acumen as well as probity and sober moral conscious, it is a shame that the poetry of Katarina Frostenson is now considered a secondary feature of her character, within the reflection of the current scandal and situation. Before the scandal, Katarina Frostenson was considered a revolutionary and striking feminist voice of poetry during the late seventies and eighties in Sweden. She would later be elected to the Swedish Academy in the early nineties; yet her poetic endeavors have not diminished during her appointment to the academy, where she began to write and produce experimental dramatic texts and plays. In two-thousand and sixteen she would receive the Nordic Council’s Literature Prize, for poetry collection: “Sånger och former,” (English: “Songs and Formulae,”). Yet as someone once told me: shit sticks longer then honey—and unfortunately it appears to be the case here for Katarina Frostenson and her poetry.

All of this However, my dear Gentle Reader is all rather old news. Most of it took place a week ago, or more. During that time, I suffered a terrible bout of influenza and was not able to report on these events as they had occurred and for that I do apologize. Finally: I am on the mend and am happy to report the above information. I suspect now and moving forward, Gentle Reader, the Swedish Academy will fall back into its usual routine, whereby all inquiries will be met with stony silence or indifference. 

Thank-you For Reading Gentle Reader
Take Care
And As Always
Stay Well Read

M. Mary  

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