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
Naya Rivera's Ex Ryan Dorsey Praises "Strong" Son Josey | E! News
January 22, 2021
4ZZkgn-qdjw
Sabrina Carpenter Drops New Song "Skin" | E! News
January 22, 2021
_8bN5L88DMk
Priyanka Chopra Talks Future Family With Nick Jonas | Daily Pop | E! News
January 22, 2021
_ZuZrRtqXg4
‘WandaVision’ Star Teyonah Parris on Embodying Marvel Superhero Monica Rambeau
January 22, 2021
8Ul8IaG7ypQ
Ben Affleck & Sacha Baron Cohen On Portraying an Alcoholic, Fooling Rudy Giuliani | Actors on Actors
January 22, 2021
e8fK26HQCvQ
George Clooney & Michelle Pfeiffer Remember Drinking On The Set of 'One Fine Day' | Actors on Actors
January 21, 2021
KV_Xzrj4QHQ
See inside the $11M NYC apartment where Jennifer Aniston grew up | Page Six Celebrity News
January 22, 2021
Rolu0nEerZE
Mira Furlan, ‘Lost’ and ‘Babylon 5’ actress, dead at 65 | Page Six Celebrity News
January 22, 2021
oWn6ovHp8Kc
‘Too Hot to Handle’ star Francesca Farago and new girlfriend pack on PDA | Page Six Celebrity News
January 21, 2021
GhpFhAiVuD0
Mattel Honors Poet Maya Angelou With Barbie Doll | TMZ TV
January 21, 2021
nEnK5Q3VqeY
Chrissy Teigen and John Legend Go Horseback Riding With Kids | TMZ TV
January 21, 2021
5CpLrILyT1U
Celebs Take Over President Biden's Inauguration | TMZ TV
January 21, 2021
3idd0ujio7M
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
22
Jan
ENGLAND: Championship
Stoke City - Watford
22
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Levante - Real Valladolid
22
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Benevento - Torino
21
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Eibar - Atletico Madrid
21
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Burnley
21
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Valencia - Osasuna
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Aston Villa
20
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Augsburg - Bayern Munich
20
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Manchester United
20
Jan
SPAIN: La Liga
Villarreal - Granada CF
19
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayer Leverkusen - Borussia Dortmund
19
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Leicester City - Chelsea
18
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Newcastle United
18
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Cagliari - AC Milan
17
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Inter Milan - Juventus
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Liverpool - Manchester United
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Sheffield United - Tottenham Hotspur
17
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Manchester City - Crystal Palace
17
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Bayern Munich - SC Freiburg
17
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Napoli - Fiorentina
16
Jan
GERMANY: Bundesliga
Borussia Dortmund - Mainz
16
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Fulham - Chelsea
15
Jan
ITALY: Serie A
Lazio - Roma
14
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Arsenal - Crystal Palace
13
Jan
ENGLAND: Premier League
Tottenham Hotspur - Fulham
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.