The Birdcage Archives

Wednesday 5 September 2018

The Sad and Awkward Situation of the Swedish Academy (Continued)

Hello Gentle Reader

Tomorrow, September 6th, the remaining remnants of the Swedish Academy will meet for the first time since the summer break. The meeting is most certainly going to be charged and contentious; and to be blunt: the academy has a lot of work to do, as well as a lot of business to go over and ultimately deal with. The challenge is grand. The mountain is monumental. The task: next to impossible. Yet, the Swedish Academy has chosen to tackle these issues on their own, they have pushed away assistance from the Nobel Foundation; they’ve ignored the calls of the public; and they’ve proven to be at each other’s own throats as they lack the ability to come to terms with how to handle the situation, let alone resolve it. Tomorrow will only mark the first day of many days which will follow, where they will battle, debate, argue, and try (and more than likely) fail to come to a solution with regards to their situation, not to mention rebuilding trust with the public, reestablishing the integrity of the Nobel Prize for Literature, renovating its own public image, and reconstructing the Swedish Academy to its full eighteen member roster.

The past week, there was confusion over the return of three members who voluntarily stepped aside from the academy’s proceedings—those three are: (former Permanent Secretary) Sara Danius, (former Permanent Secretary) Peter Englund, and Kjell Espmark. Initially reports stated that three members who have recused themselves voluntarily would be returning to the academy to continue the good work. Sara Danius and Peter Englund had stated with firm authority they had no intention of returning to the Swedish Academy in any active part. However, they did clarify they would reconvene with the academy on certain issues in a passive role (i.e. assist the Swedish Academy in electing new members).

Yet, just as the Swedish Academy is on the evening of reconvening, disgraced member, Katarina Frostenson has broken her silence with regards to the state of the Swedish Academy; as it turns out, she has not been formally invited to join tomorrow’s meeting; an act some are calling a violation of the Swedish Academy’s statutes. Yet, it should be noted back in April, Katarina Frostenson had voluntarily recused herself from the Swediseh Academy—she has not, however, officially resigned. This decision done as a ‘horse trade,’ between the two camps within the Swedish Academy: Sara Danius would step down as Permanent Secretary and Katarina Frostenson would recuse herself from any further proceedings of the Swedish Academy [for further reading of the entire Swedish Academy please see the end of the blog for a list of previous blog posts].

Katarina Frostenson has stated during the crisis she had met with the then Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy about the crisis facing the Swedish Academy due in part to Frostenson breaking the statutes of the academy (including the statute of secrecy), conflict of interest legalities, as well as the behaviour of her husband, the accused (and formally charged) photographer, Jean-Claude Arnault, who faces criminal conviction of sexual assault as he moves to trial.  Frostenson states that the then Permanent Secretary Sara Danius, stated an ultimatum with three options, in order to bypass a formal vote of expulsion from the Swedish Academy.  Frostenson states the following where the three options presented to her:

(i)                 Leave the academy voluntarily per prompt

(ii)               Continue her work with the Swedish Academy, with severe restrictions (which included excusing herself from all discussions of the Nobel Prize for Literature; selection, voting, and announcing of the award; as well as giving up all privileges of using Swedish Academy properties abroad or in Stockholm)

(iii)             No attendance of any Nobel Foundation event (including award ceremonies) if her husband was to attend as well.

Needless to state the obvious, Frostenson declined all three options, and afterwards the Academy would go to a vote on her expulsion. Frostenson also accuses of Sara Danius of using her position to threaten her, and her co-ownership of the club the Forum, by having the police involved. The rest, as they say is history. Yet, Katarina Frostenson has remained firm on stating she was never committing any act that would be considered ethically inappropriate or economically unacceptable or fraudulent in nature, when she accepted money for the cultural club, Forum, which she co-owned with her disgraced husband. She states that the money allocated by the Swedish Academy to the club, was always used for ‘cultural activities,’ and she had received no personal financial gain from it; others both within the Swedish Academy, former members, and the public completely disagree with her assertion she was acting within the parameters and principles of ethics, legal regulations, financial constitutions, and economic statutes. On that note, Katarina Frostenson, needs to admit at least to her, what she colluded in with her husband, was a supreme issue of ethics and a conflict of interest; she was in the wrong, and she occupies no ground considered moral propriety.

As it stands, Katarina Frostenson will not be attending tomorrow’s meeting. It is unclear whether or not Sara Danius, Peter Englund, and Kjell Espmark will attend either. What is clear: is the workd needs to be done, but is the Swedish Academy prepared to do it?

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

M. Mary

For further reading Gentle Reader, please see the following articles. One of them in particular, is by a Swedish lawyer: Jesús Alcala; who plays devil’s advocate over the proceedings of the Swedish Academy, both past and present. It’s a unique read. The others are articles regarding, Katarina Frostenson’s position and clarification over the proceedings:

"Frostenson offed to Protect the Academy's Brand,"

"Katarina Frostenson about the crisis in the Swedish Academy,"

"Frostenson breaks the silence of the Academy: Not right,"

As mentioned above, here are the previous blog posts detailing the events of the Swedish Academy’s Crisis, In Chronological Order:

"Shocking News from the Swedish Academy," 

"Swedish Academy Controversy (Continued),"

"Horace Engdahl Speaks Out,"

"A Shadow Over the Swedish Academy Darkens,"

"A Compromise Which Ends in Tears,"

"Swedish Academy Statutes, Amended,"

"A Statement from the Swedish Academy,"

"Sara Stridsberg Officially Leaves the Swedish Academy,"

"Nobel Prize for Literature 2018, Postponed,"

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