The Birdcage Archives

Saturday 6 October 2018

Two New Members Elected to the Swedish Academy

Hello Gentle Reader

Nobel week has wrapped up beginning with the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, and now ending with the Nobel Peace Prize. Thursday was quiet as the Nobel Prize for Literature was not announced as the prize had been postponed. Earlier this week Jean-Claude Arnault, learned his fate with regards to his conviction for sexual assault, and was sentenced to two years in prison. The presiding judge in this case had choice words for the Swedish Academy, who he blamed for creating a culture of silence, which forced victims and causalities of Arnault’s to go unheard; such as in the event of former Permanent Secretary Sture Allen, disregarding a letter from a accuser back in the nineties. Despite this, the Swedish Academy has remained silent on the ruling and the choice words issued from the bench.

Last week, before Nobel Week was set to begin, the Nobel Foundation once again expressed uncertainty in its confidence of the Swedish Academy, whereby it threatened to find another institution to oversee the prize selection, decision, announcement, and relinquishment to the chosen laureate. Again, the Swedish Academy remained reticent and silent.

Now Friday, October 5th the Swedish Academy has broken its silence to release the news it has elected two new members: the recent Swedish Supreme Court Justice appointee, Eric M. Runesson and Iranian born writer and poet, Jila Mossaed.

Justice Eric Runesson will be formally inducted to Chair No. 1, replacing the former member Lotta Lotass on December 20th.

Jila Mossaed will be formally inducted to Chair No. 15, replacing the former member Kerstin Ekman, who resigned earlier this year and had been inactive with the Swedish Academy since the late nineteen-eighties.

Both decisions are being praised. The appointment of Eric Runesson has been seen by some in literary corners as unconventional, but it should be noted once again: Chair No. 1 had been conventionally occupied by a lawyer in years past, and despite the look he does not have any ‘literary,’ background in either theory, criticism, or publications, the legal field is riddled with a demand for extensive reading and writing. His experience as both an arbitrator and lawyer specializing in business law, may certainly prove him to have the ability to adjudicate, defend, question, negotiate and mediate literary discussions, as well as participate in them. His experience with legalities will also prove him to be an asset to the Swedish Academy when handling issues of a conflicting nature—such as the one that faced the Academy with regards to Katarina Frostenson operating a business with her husband which received financial assistance from the Swedish Academy, which she was a member of. His position as a lawyer and a judge may also allow Justice Eric Runesson to mitigate and handle scandals internally before they erupt out of control, as witnessed this past spring. It will be interesting to see if he will act as ambassador to inactive members, to see if they will consider returning to the Swedish Academy.

The appointment of Jila Mossaed, has been met with more conventional praise, but she is still a unique face to the Swedish Academy. Mossaed left Iran in the late nineteen-eighties, and entered exile into Sweden. She has published two novels, six poetry collections in Persian, and another seven collections of poetry in Swedish. She is a critically acclaimed author and poet. Her induction will only prove to be able to open the Swedish Academy’s perspective into Middle Eastern cultures and languages, and most importantly its language.

With regards to the new elected members, His Majesty King Carl Gustav XVI, has accepted both nominations and has cleared them to being inducted in a ceremony on the 20th of December. Following their announcements, his royal highness had the following statement:

“The election of two new members is positive. I hope The Swedish Academy will be given the opportunity to continue rebuilding the trust of the institution and that the academy can now continue its important work.”

This is merely once again another step for the Swedish Academy, as it moves towards rebuilding itself as an institution, and regaining the trust of the public; while restoring its integrity as a cultural and legitimate adjudicating authority of cultural and literary achievement. Whether or not this has moved the Nobel Foundation, is yet unknown.

For now though, congratulations can only be offered to the two new members: Justice Eric Runesson and Jila Mossaed. With their elections and eventual inducements they will allow the Swedish Academy to once again hold a quorum of twelve members. However there are still many inactive members and vacant seats still needing to be filled.  Demands have once again been made for Katarina Frostenson to step down and recuse herself from the academy; on that end, the Swedish Academy has remained bitterly silent.

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 Links:

The Local Sweden: "Two new members join scandal-ridden Swedish Academy,"

Reuters: "Nobel-awarding Swedish Academy elects new members after rape scandal,"

Business Day: "Nobel literature body elects Iranian poet and Swedish judge,"

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