The Nobel Prize for literature is the latest casualty of a sexual harassment scandal after the Swedish Academy announced that it would not be handing out a prize this year. The scandal that is shaking the world's most important literary award started in November 2017, after a wave of revelations on sexual abuses committed by the French playwright and photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who is very close to the institution, although he is not a member.
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The Nobel Foundation reacted promptly, saying it presumes that the academy "will now put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility as a prize-awarding institution and that the Academy will report the concrete actions that are undertaken".
The Swedish Academy has been engulfed in turmoil and infighting since at least 18 women accused Arnault of sexual harassment. Some of the incidents took place in properties that the academy owned.
He has denied all the allegations. The academy voted against removing Arnault's wife, the poet and writer Katarina Frostenson, from its committee, which was a decision that divided the organization. Academy patron King Carl XVI Gustaf has said he will change the rules to allow them to quit formally.
In connection with its decision to postpone the prize, the Swedish Academy said it had begun a wide-ranging project to alter the way it conducted its business while still seeking to respect its historic legacy. Arnault was also accused of leaking the name of the victor in advance at least three times.
Apparently no stranger to these backdoor shenanigans, Mr. Arnault has subsequently also been accused of leaking the names of winners of the Nobel Prize in Literature ahead of time.
The academy said it would name the 2018 laureate "in parallel with the naming of the 2019 laureate". In the wake of the scandal, those involved are scrambling to change the rules, a process made more hard by the fact that, with only 10 active members, the Academy is one short of the 12-member quorum required to elect new members to vacant seats.
Heldin says the academy's decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize. On five of those occasions, the prize was delayed then awarded at the same time as the following year's prize.
The Swedish Economic Crime Authority has also launched a preliminary investigation into suspected financial crime within the Academy after an inquiry found it had granted payments to a cultural club formerly run by the man. American playwright Eugene O'Neill was awarded the 1936 prize a year later, in 1937, at the same time as that year's victor received his prize.