#metoo: the Swedish Academy in crisis

Ⓒ TT NEWS AGENCY/AFP – Jonas EKSTROMER – | The perpetual secretary of the Swedish Academy, who awards the Nobel Prize for Literature Sara Danius, in Stockholm, on April 12, 2018

The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize for literature, is in crisis: on Thursday, it thanked his perpetual secretary, victim of internal divisions following accusations of sexual harassment against an intellectual married with an academician, also resigning.

Last November, the daily Dagens Nyheter published the testimonies of 18 women claiming to have suffered violence or sexual harassment of a man of French origin married to an academician, poet and playwright Katarina Frostenson. She announced Thursday leave the prestigious institution.

The Academy has since November broken any connection with Ms. Frostenson’s husband, who denies any criminal behavior, and cut his grants at the venue of the Stockholm exhibition and performances, run by cultural elites.

She also opened an internal investigation and enlisted the services of a law firm. Their conclusions are not known, and the academicians are bound to a strict duty of reserve.

This affair has deeply divided the sanctuary of literature and poetry of the Scandinavian country, which surrounds all its decisions with the greatest secrecy.

After the resignation of three of its members last week, it was the perpetual secretary who was pushed to the exit. “It is the will of the Academy that I leave my post of perpetual secretary,” said Sara Danius at the end of a meeting of the wise.

“I also decided to leave my chair, number 7. This decision takes effect immediately,” she said. “I would have gladly continued but there is something else to do in life,” she told the press.

– The Nobel Affected –

Nobel Foundation CEO Lars Heikensten has publicly expressed concern about a “serious and difficult situation”.

Sara Danius herself acknowledged that the crisis had “already affected the Nobel Prize rather seriously, it is a serious problem”.

For Lisa Irenius, head of the cultural pages of the daily Svenska Dagbladet, with the current tensions, “it is difficult today to have much hope for the Academy”.

Peter Englund, an academician who has resigned since last week, believes that Sara Danius, who succeeded him in 2015, is the subject of “unwarranted” internal criticism.

For another sage, Horace Engdahl, the Academy found that there was “a leadership problem”. “It took something radical to create the conditions for a fresh start,” he told SVT public television.

Professor of literature at Stockholm University, Sara Danius was the first woman to hold this position.

– perpetual members –

Academicians are perpetual members and can not in principle resign. They can leave their chairs empty.

Of the 18 sages, seven are no longer active members since two others had gone on leave several years ago.

This is not the first time the institution has faced a wave of resignations.

Three academicians decided in 1989 to no longer hold their pulpit in the face of the institution’s refusal to condemn the fatwa striking Salman Rushdie after the publication of the “Satanic Verses”. She ended up denouncing it 27 years later.

On the judicial front, the Stockholm public prosecutor’s office announced in mid-March that part of the investigation against the man at the heart of the scandal had been dismissed for want of prescription or lack of evidence. These are rapes and alleged assaults in 2013 and 2015.

Unclassified facts were not disclosed.

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