The Birdcage Archives

Sunday 30 September 2018

Nobel Foundation Applies Further Pressure to Swedish Academy

Hello Gentle Reader

Nobel Week starts tomorrow, with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine being announced tomorrow morning. Following the Medicine prize is the Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday; Wednesday sees the Nobel Prize in Chemistry being announced; followed by Friday’s announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize. Sadly, the Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded this year, as it had been postponed due to controversy and crisis in the spring. Tomorrow will also be the day French-Swedish photographer and Stockholm cultural figure, Jean-Cluade Arnault will be sentenced with regards to charges of sexual assault and battery.

Jean-Claude Arnault was a key figure in the Swedish Academy’s crisis which caused for the Nobel Prize for Literature to be postponed, both due to the allegations leveled against him of sexual assault, but also the fact he ran and co-owned a cultural club with his wife, Swedish Academy Member: Katarina Frostenson; which received financial assistance and funding from the Swedish Academy. It has also been alleged that Katarina Frostenson divulged confidential information to her husband with regards to the Nobel Laureate in Literature, specifically that for two decades she sporadically prematurely revealed who would receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, which violates the statute of secrecy. Jean-Claude Arnault refutes and denies all allegations of sexual assault, while Katarina Frostenson denies any conflict of interest with regards to receiving funding from the academy to help run the club she co-owned,  as well as the accusation she had violated the statute of secrecy by realsing the names of Nobel Laureates in Literature, prematurely. In fact, Katarina Frostenson has proposed she was a victim of the Swedish Academy and was sacrificed to save the brand and reputation of the academy.

Over the course of the spring the Swedish Academy found itself placed in a public scandal and fall out, with four members officially resigning; while another four stepping aside and refusing the participate in the academy’s work. Former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy and Horace Engdahl had a heated exchange over the events which saw the academy fall into ruin. Since the spring the Nobel Foundation and its chairman, Lars Heikensten, have watched the subsequent scandal with shame and horror. In his position as chairman of the Nobel Foundation (the highest authority for the Nobel Prizes) Lars Heikensten has attempted to work with the academy to resolve its internal governance issues. The Swedish Academy, however, has refused his consultations, counsel, and assistance. Since then Lars Heikensten has eluded that the Nobel Prize for Literature for two-thousand and nineteen may also be indefinitely put on hold, if the Swedish Academy cannot restore its reputation and be recognized as a legitimate institution within the public’s eye—both in Sweden and internationally.

In the event the Swedish Academy decides to continue to move forward and name two laureates in two-thousand and nineteen, as they’ve said they would, without restoring faith, trust and legitimacy, Lars Heikensten had threatened the Nobel Foundation will withhold the prize money.

In a recent interview, Lars Heikensten has eluded that the situation within the Swedish Academy has not improved. Recently the Swedish Academy had renewed and modernized their statutes, but the response was lukewarm and seen as a superficial gesture. In the interview with Reuters last Friday, Lars Heikensten stated the following:

“If things continue in this way, and if they don’t manage to regain legitimacy, then we might be forced to take drastic steps. One of those steps could be asking permission to have some other organization being responsible for the prize.”

In the same interview, Lars Heikensten had eluded that other members need to resign from the Swedish Academy, but did not elucidate any further. As for the Swedish Academy they have yet to respond, if they chose to respond. In the past the Swedish Academy had argued that any removal of the Nobel Prize for Literature form their stewardship would result in a legal contentious argument, one in which Lars Heikensten has implied to being willing to fight if it means saving the reputation of the prize.

For now though Gentle Reader, Nobel Week will soon begin and Thursday will be quiet as there will be no announcement for the Nobel Prize for Literature.

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

M. Mary

For Further Reading Please see the following articles –

The Local Sweden: "Nobel Foundation warns it may strip Swedish Academy of literature prize,"

The Tribune: "Swedish Academy postpones Nobel Literature Prize leaving blank page for 2018,"

Reuters: "Nobel Foundation says could strip Swedish Academy of literature prize role,"

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