April 14, 2018
As female head of Swedish Academy takes the fall for a scandal-hit man, the institution is left in ruins
Scandal in Sweden: Nobel prize for literature faces #MeToo moment
What, exactly, is the Swedish Academy? Or rather – what was it?
Until 12 April, the academy, which chooses the winners of the Nobel prize for literature, was a royal academy founded in 1786 by the so-called “theatre king”, Gustav III.
But after its head, the permanent secretary Sara Danius, was ousted that day, and with only 11 of its 18 members left, the institution has nearly ceased to exist, brought down by allegations of sexual abuse, in-fighting and subterfuge. It is almost Shakespearean.
An editorial in Dagens Nyheter, the biggest-selling Swedish daily paper, compared the tragedy in the country’s most prestigious cultural organ with the final scenes of Hamlet. Unscrupulous duels with poisonous swords, poison-smeared goblets, everyone dies. Perhaps Fortinbras will march on stage – disguised as the current Swedish king, Carl XVI Gustaf – to deliver the final lines that look to a hopeful future. What has happened in the normally peaceful kingdom of Sweden?
It started with a number of women who came forward to a Dagens Nyheter reporter, Matilda Gustavsson, last November. They spoke of harassment and sexual abuse, allegedly committed by Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of academy member Katarina Frostenson. In some cases, the abuse was said to have taken place in apartments belonging to the academy. Arnault’s strategy, the women claimed, had been to use his close relationship with the institution, which also funded a club called the Forum that he co-owns with Frostenson. He denies all the allegations.
Dagens Nyheter’s coverage shook Sweden’s cultural world. State prosecutors opened an investigation, and they say that, while some allegations are not being considered because of Sweden’s statute of limitations or lack of evidence, the investigation is ongoing. The academy hired a law firm to investigate its links to Arnault (who is referred to as “the cultural profile” in Swedish media).
The maelstrom has hurt not only the Swedish Academy, but also the only thing that really gives the organisation its glory: the Nobel prize for literature.
The academy’s investigators reportedly said that “the cultural profile” had leaked the names of seven prize-winners – something Arnault’s lawyers have denied. In a blunt statement, the Swedish Nobel Foundation wiped away any remaining confidence in the academy, saying it had been “seriously damaged” and raising concerns that the prize’s reputation may be tarnished.
The law firm’s investigation also allegedly recommended that the Swedish Academy should file a police report to allow the authorities to investigate suspicions of financial irregularities, but the institution has reportedly refused to do so, revealing splits within the committee.
Danius announced she was leaving, following several members who had already gone. A remaining academician called some of them “sore losers”.
Members of the Swedish Academy were once referred to as “the 18 best and brightest” – mirroring the popular belief that they represented the highest standards among poets, writers and intellectuals. Today, there are only 11 left and public support for Danius is huge, while confidence in the remaining members is at rock bottom. It seems a dark and cruel irony that a man has been accused of sexual misconduct, but a woman has taken the fall.
What now? Ironically, the only remaining hope seems to be that the Swedish king will enter the stage like a deus ex machina. He has already made his intentions clear: to change the academy’s statutes so that members can resign properly if they wish to do so. At the moment, the only possible ways out are exclusion or death.
Such a change would been seen as severe punishment. The academy’s lifelong membership has enabled some to maintain a mythologised self-image. They have been able to say and do anything without repercussion. If the king removes their status, the magic surrounding the demi-gods of Parnassus would disappear and they would be transformed into the flawed and mortal members of a dull committee.
What happened on 12 April is of historic importance. The origin of this collapse is the women’s allegations of sexual misconduct, with echoes of the New York Times revelations about Harvey Weinstein which launched the #MeToo movement. Their allegations have brought one of the world’s most renowned cultural institutions to ruin.
The disenchantment, today, is total.
Related Stories
Latest News
Top news around the world
Coronavirus Disease

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus.

Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.

Around the World

Celebrity News

> Latest News in Media

Watch It
Julia Fox defends viral ‘Uncut Gems’ interview moment: ‘I was stoned’ | Page Six Celebrity News
February 17, 2022
4m-p0_-ePd8
Alexia Echevarria pushed ‘RHOM’ producers to show more of son Frankie’s recovery | Page Six
February 17, 2022
E-wTaN9NfkI
Pete Davidson rejoins Instagram amid Kanye West drama | Page Six Celebrity News
February 17, 2022
SsC3dmsI6t4
Aaron Rodgers And Shailene Woodley Reportedly Break Up | TMZ LIVE
February 17, 2022
FoErdRE8Qe4
Chet Hanks Done Talking About Famous Parents, Becoming Personal Trainer | TMZ
February 16, 2022
5_UrULOkQ6o
Woman Stabbed at Foot Locker During Nike Shoe Release
February 16, 2022
TfuXMs1JdVg
Steph's Freaky Side, "Summer House" & "Love During Lockup"
February 17, 2022
9W_raO0zlA8
Tay or Nay, Offset's Sushi Anxiety & Nick on Monogamy
February 17, 2022
PauYHpJRA6o
Kim Kardashian & North West TWINNING in Matching Pajamas | E! News
February 17, 2022
b-_Oib6R108
Adam McKay - Hollywood Walk of Fame Ceremony
February 17, 2022
tYtzsHoOZzo
Tom Holland, Mark Wahlberg, and the Cast of 'Uncharted' Talk Most Challenging Stunts
February 15, 2022
d3ksX-SKi8c
Ryan Reynolds and Walker Scobell on ‘The Adam Project’, ‘Deadpool’, and Possible ‘Star Wars’ Role
February 16, 2022
5TxJsbJr9Dk
TV Schedule
Late Night Show
Watch the latest shows of U.S. top comedians

Sports

Latest sport results, news, videos, interviews and comments
Latest Events
04
May
CONCACAF CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Playoffs
Seattle Sounders - Pumas
04
May
USA: Major League Soccer
FC Cincinnati - Toronto FC
03
May
ENGLAND: Championship
Bournemouth - Nottingham Forest
02
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Brentford
02
May
ENGLAND: Championship
Fulham - Luton
02
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Getafe - Real Betis
02
May
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Eintracht Frankfurt
02
May
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Monchengladbach - RB Leipzig
02
May
ITALY: Serie A
Atalanta - Salernitana
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Leicester City
01
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Mallorca
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Roma - Bologna
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
West Ham United - Arsenal
01
May
ENGLAND: Premier League
Everton - Chelsea
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Udinese - Inter Milan
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
AC Milan - Fiorentina
01
May
ITALY: Serie A
Juventus - Venezia
01
May
SPAIN: La Liga
Rayo Vallecano - Real Sociedad
30
Apr
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Mainz - Bayern Munich
30
Apr
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Bochum
30
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Newcastle United - Liverpool
30
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Athletic Bilbao - Atletico Madrid
30
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leeds - Manchester City
30
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Real Madrid - Espanyol
30
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Sassuolo
28
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester United - Chelsea
27
Apr
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Semifinal
Liverpool - Villarreal
27
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Bologna - Inter Milan
26
Apr
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Semifinal
Manchester City - Real Madrid
25
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Sassuolo - Juventus
24
Apr
SPAIN: La Liga
Barcelona - Rayo Vallecano
24
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - AC Milan
24
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Everton
24
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Chelsea - West Ham United
24
Apr
ITALY: Serie A
Empoli - Napoli
23
Apr
ENGLAND: Premier League
Brentford - Tottenham Hotspur
Find us on Instagram
at @feedimo to stay up to date with the latest.
Featured Video You Might Like
zWJ3MxW_HWA L1eLanNeZKg i1XRgbyUtOo -g9Qziqbif8 0vmRhiLHE2U JFCZUoa6MYE UfN5PCF5EUo 2PV55f3-UAg W3y9zuI_F64 -7qCxIccihU pQ9gcOoH9R8 g5MRDEXRk4k
Copyright © 2020 Feedimo. All Rights Reserved.