Nobel Becomes Ignoble or, The Popcorn Report

By Ahrvid Engholm: Last fall saw the beginning of the Fall of – or at least serious problems for – the literary influential Swedish Academy, the body deciding the Nobel Prize in Literature. This Prize has earlier been awarded to writers of fantastic literature (at least partly) like Doris Lessing, Jose Saramago, Maria Vargas Llosa, Elfride Jelinek, Gunther Grass, Harry Martinson and others.

On November 21, 18 women appeared in the big morning daily Dagens Nyheter, accusing a culture club organiser of serious sexual harassment, a man named Jean-Claude Arnault. This club had tight connections to the Swedish Academy: it received grants from it, Mr Arnault is married to Academy member Katarina Frostenson and Academy members were often appearing on this club. [If you run the article “18 kvinnor: Kulturprofil har utsatt oss för övergrepp” through Google Translate, it is very readable English.]

The Permanent Secretary – the Academy’s spokesperson and executive officer – Sara Danius commissioned a law firm to investigate the situation. The scandal soon grew. Frostenson was suspected of having leaked Nobel Prize results in advance, which you can bet money on (strange “movements” of those odds have been observed). The scandal also got momentum from the so called #Metoo events.
When the law firm report recently arrived last week – things exploded!

The report concluded e.g. that it was likely that Frostenson had leaked Nobel Prize winners in advance
and that she was a partner in a company in connection to the culture club receiving money. Both things are of course against the Academy rules.

The Academy last Thursday (they meet every Thursday) held a vote about sacking Frostenson due to these breaches, with negative result. Three members of the Academy – Kjell Espmark, Klas Östergren, Peter Englund – next day announced they quit in protest. You sit in the Academy “for life” and can’t formally resign, but you can withdraw working for it. Two members already do, for unconnected old reasons, so the Academy of 18 is now down to 13 working members. Member Sara Stridsberg says she’s considering withdrawing from the Academy, which would make it only 12 working members.

And if they become less than 12 on their sessions, they can’t vote to select new members! All according to the Academy statues, written in 1785 by the then-king Gustaf III, who was also the founder. If Stridsberg decides to call it quits and one more leave it will be extremely serious.

Kjell Espmark for instance motivated his withdrawal with “Integrity is the very soul of the Academy. When Leading voices within the Academy put friendship and other irrelevant considerations before this integrity – then I can no longer take part.” Peter Englund bashed the Academy for “decisions taken I don’t believe in and can’t defend” and Klas Östergren talks about a “betrayal towards the Academy, its founder and it’s High Protector…I’m leaving the game, I’m out of the game”.

Eight voting against an Exclusion Act (no connection to Nycon 1939…) wrote in the daily Svenska Dagbladet April 9th (see the Google Translate version here): “By excluding Katarina Frostenson, the Academy would have issued an extrajudicial punishment, which in its entirety would have exceeded a never-so-called legal judgement, a penalty without appeal or grace.” Member Per Wästberg writes in the same newspaper that he voted for exclusion, but unlike the three quitters he choose to stay in the Academy for the time being.

Permanent Secretary Danius, who has worked for exclusion and has the support of the renegades, was called to the Swedish king Carl XVI Gustaf Sunday April 8th, since he is High Protector of the academy. On the table is to change the statutes to allow academy members to resign entirely, so new members can be elected. (The Swedish constitutional monarch has only ceremonial powers, but maybe he has the power to approve of changing statutes of what is formally a Royal Academy. He is the successor to the founder, after all.) After the meeting with Sara Danius the King made a rare appearance for the press and said they “were working towards a solution and hope to do something that will be for the best, for all involved”. We’ll see. What will her supporters do if Frostenson is sacked?

The law firm’s report also concluded that the culture club Frostenson had interests in had paid wages under the table and broken tax and similar laws. They recommended to turn this over to the police. As for sexual harassment no Academy member had personally seen any, but they had heard rumours and stories about it and seen “unsuitable behaviour”.

There are certainly more exciting news to follow. Swedish newspapers are full of front page headlines, and media abroad also has extensive coverage – probably more than for the literary Nobel Prize itself! The Nobel Prize could be in danger when prominent members leave and the work-flow of the institution becomes poisoned and disrupted. Kjell Espmark was for instance the chairman of the Academy’s Nobel Committee.

As we all enjoy having our popcorn when we sit by the ringside, as the slugging goes on in the World of Fine Arts, it’s interesting to note how the price of corn has risen. Zoom in Dec 2017 to early April 2018, price is up from ca USD3.45 to USD3.90 per bushel:
Not that we can be certain it has with the turmoil in the Swedish Academy to do…but grab your popcorn as Nobel becomes ignoble.

The /p/o/p/c/o/r/n /d/i/s/p/e/n/s/e/r  — the Swedish Academy’s English home page – is at the link.

Note: An onging joke from Yours Truly is that the ficticious, fannish poet (a serious Vogon challenger) Comet-Johan Bensin jr every year believes he’ll be the next Nobel Prize laureate…maybe he stands a chance now!

A fitting Nobel Prize cartoon.

50 thoughts on “Nobel Becomes Ignoble or, The Popcorn Report

  1. While I do appreciate good drama, this post is practically gloating at it and I don’t think it’s a great look for file770.

  2. Seems like they’ve been kind of running out of inspiration for a while anyway, but I don’t follow them closely. Perhaps this explosive situation will dynamite the Nobels for good.

    I should eat more popcorn, but the stuff that makes it taste good is all things I’ve been advised to turn away from when possible.

  3. Seriously, all this is fairly shocking. Did I read correctly that the no-voters said expelling Katarina Frostenson would be a terrible punishment for her, worse than the jail time she will get after she gets convicted for tax fraud?
    Obviously, those eight are the ones who should be kicked off the board not the ones who are trying to resign. I don’t know what solution is possible.

  4. Annoyingly, the original DN. article is now locked to subscribers only (or, I guess, anyone happy to provide a mobile number, the page doesn’t indicate if SMS to foreign mobiles would work).

  5. @ bookworm1398:

    It’s frustratingly hard to read the original, so I don’t have the original text. I think, based on the English translation, what they’re trying to say is that the expulsion would be “longer in time” than any expected punishment (since membership is for life and she can probably be expected to not die of old during any jail time), as well as not handed out by the court, and therefore not something you can take to a higher instance for a re-trial.

    Thus it would exceed the jail time, in pure time terms, even if the severity and impact of the two would probably class the jail time as “larger impact”.

  6. The Nobel Prize for Literature is but one small part of the work the Swedish Academy does (something foisted on them 1901, which is roughly halfway through their existence by now, as it was founded in 1786), it’s also a financial benefactor of a pretty large part of the Swedish literary world. While this doesn’t really threaten the existence of the Academy in the long run, it’s just sad, nothing to be celebrated. All the best people have left or are considering leaving. From a Swedish perspective, whatever happens to the Nobel Prize for Literature is insignificant compared to other damage this could cause.

  7. (The Swedish constitutional monarch has only ceremonial powers, but maybe he has the power to approve of changing statutes of what is formally a Royal Academy. He is the successor to the founder, after all.)

    Does this mean to suggest that there’s uncertainty over who have the power to approve changes to the statutes? Have they never been changed in modern times?

  8. Jake, if you find this “gloating”, you should see the swedish newspapers.

  9. “Does this mean to suggest that there’s uncertainty over who have the power to approve changes to the statutes? Have they never been changed in modern times?”

    They have never been changed since created by Gustav III, if I remember correctly.

  10. And now they are only eleven: two of the four remaining women have now recused themselves, including the permanent secretary (who was sacked from her post) and the woman who had been the focus of this entire affair. I’m guessing it’s only a matter of time until the third of the remaining women recuses herself as well.

    So now they’re short of the quorom needed to elect new members.

    But to me this strikes me as the eleven remaining members as the crew of a ship where they found a leak, but who chose to toss everyone else overboard and smash the hole even larger. Just as Wiscon and Readercon did. They are declaring victory, but have lost all respect from everyone else. I can’t see any sensible and wise person choosing to associate themselves with the academy with its current members.

  11. The mention of Wiscon brings up an important point. The concom of Wiscon, which prides itself on being a feminist SF con, happily threw the victims under a bus and sided with the harrasser. Given this, why expect the Swedish Academy to do any different?

  12. Nancy Sauer: The mention of Wiscon brings up an important point. The concom of Wiscon, which prides itself on being a feminist SF con, happily threw the victims under a bus and sided with the harrasser.

    Yes, but once it became very public, and they received a lot of pushback, they did eventually straighten up and fly right. As did Readercon.

    Odysseycon, on the other hand, never did.

  13. The WisCon thing is a long story, which is a lot more complicated than that. It’s more about a lack of checks and balances causing the first failure to deal with the complaints, and later, when the complaints were being dealt with, the first committee took a judicial perspective rather than a protecting the members perspective (the difference is subtle but important). This stuff is really, really hard, and sometimes you have to go through it to discover where your failure points are. I’m grateful that we did get through it and do the right thing in the end, even though it took far too long.

  14. The Nobel Prize scandal even got covered on German TV today, in the arts and culture program Kulturzeit.

  15. I know nothing at all about this, but I’m still pissed off at them ignoring Le Guin even though she was 87 to nominate freakin’ Dylan, so I’m perhaps unfairly inclined to believe that whatever’s happening, they probably deserve it.

  16. @Lenore Jones: The actions of the Swedish Academy has been almost exactly a blueprint of the Wiscon path, except they haven’t reached the somewhat clueful stage yet: they’re still in denial.

  17. @jayn: LeGuin would have been exactly the sort of pick that makes the Nobels maddening: An artist known to a very small subset of the world whose works don’t communicate well outside her core audience. Dylan was exactly the right choice, especially since he mocked the whole process and still picked up his check.

  18. Here’s my latest UPDATE on events (note interesting suggestions last, on possible new Academy members):


    The crisis in the Swedish Academy took a dramatic turn after their Thursday meeting: both the Permanent Secretary Sara Danius and the criticsized poet Katarina Frostenson leave, in what is described as “a compromise”. New Temporary Permanent (!) Secretary is Anders Olsson. On Wednesday the Court issued a press release saying that the King had the power to modify the Academy’s statutes. Later a Court spokesperson said that such work was “in progress”.
    And the statues must be changed, because presenty The Eighteen – as the Academy is known as – now has seven empty chairs, and the eleven remaining isn’t enough to constitute quorum to elect new members. Twelve is the minimum.
    Virtually all the newspapers and people in the cultural sphere support Sara Danius, seen as someone who tried to fix things but finally couldn’t overcome old, dusty resistance. Newspaper Expressen e g writes that she had “decades of dirty laundry thrown on her lap”, laundry that three previous Permanent Secretaries should have taken care of. The Bad Guy in the opinion of many is Horace Engdahl (also a previous PermSec) whose piece in Expressen on Tuesday wasn’t well received ( Google Translate ).
    Now, up to seven (!) Academy members need to be replaced (provided the statutes change to allow it), and here’s something interesting: there are in my opinion credible cadidates with ties to science fiction and sf fandom!
    * Erik Andersson, first of all, a leading fan in the 1980’s, with his excellent fanzine Der Leuchtturm, and also as editor (together with Yours Truly) of the fandom pages ion Jules Verne Magasinet. He has since done major, well recieved translation work with Tolkien and James Joyce and has written about ten books of his own. He has a nice sense of humour too.
    * Steve Sem-Sandberg, who had much with sf to do in the 1970’s – his first three novels were skiffy and he often turned up in the SFSF clubhouse. He has since turned to mainstream, written about e g the Holocaust, won the main literary August award, he often reviews books on the cultural pages and so on.
    * Inger Edelfeldt, began as illustrator (e g Tolkien book covers) but has since written a long stream of well-received books (debut with Duktig Pojke already in 1977), some with fantasy contents, and has won a lot of awards. She was also often seen in the SFSF clubhouse in the 1970’s.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if one of these turns up on a chair in the Old Stock Exchange Building, by the Grand Square, in the Old Town where the Academy resides.
    But first the Swedish Academy must undergo major repair and renovation.


  19. Dylan, a good choice? For litterature!? The choice was mostly ridiculed in the swedish press as a nostalgic selection from older people looking for their youth. I guess Ready Player One would have been the better SFF-selection then. 😉

    Hi Ahrvid, thanks for the summary! Was nice meeting you again in Helsinki.

    The Swedish Academy is our current soapopera in Swedish Press, there are plenty of weird moments that are more or less untranslateable. You have to have 30 years of context on strange poets, cultural gossip and different “celebrities”.

  20. @Hampus Eckerman: I am highly charmed though slightly disturbed to find that the Swedish Academy has the place in your culture that The Voice and American Idol have in mine. If I had to pick, I’d pick the Swedish Academy, as I’ve been overall more pleased with their choices over time.

    But if I’m going for entertainment value in their antics versus value to the reader or listener from their judgements, I’m Team USA all the way. That’s probably just provincialism on my part, though. The more I think about it, the more I love the idea of an entire nation following The Arbiters of High Art like a sequel to The Edge of Night.

    When you say “current soap opera”, do you mean just currently?

    Or off and on, and currently on? Because that would be awesome.

  21. On and off, I would say. And currently on. An enormous amount of articles written. Just about everyone is involved. Leading crimonoligist. The King. Weird poet lady. Rabid former secretary. Suddenly an author of mystery stories walks past in gala dress. Current secretary makes a statement by dressing as close as possible to Gustav III on the night he was shot. Others show support by wearing tied blouses. Ministers in parliament tie their ties to emulate tied blouses(!).

    It is all very surreal.

  22. Oh, in terms of statute-change, the statutes of the Academy were indeed changed in 1914, to allow female members of the academy. Thank you, Selma Lagerlöf.

    I am now somewhat weirded out by finding “reading statutes and finding loopholes” being a useful skill, again (yes, I was designated loop-hole finder in statutes for science clubs, oh so many years ago).

  23. Hampus Eckerman on April 13, 2018 at 5:19 am said:

    Others show support by wearing tied blouses. Ministers in parliament tie their ties to emulate tied blouses(!).

    OK, now I want to know what a tied blouse is, why it’s significant, and what Ministers in Parliament look like with their ties emulating tied blouses.

    International anthropology for the win!

  24. @Arkansawyer: An artist known to a very small subset of the world whose works don’t communicate well outside her core audience. I’m curious how you define “communicate well”; do you think, despite the movie and TV blockbusters, that SF is still a niche product? Or that the Nobel should go to a popular choice rather than someone who keeps encouraging readers to stretch themselves? I acknowledge the tension between stretch and readability (cf the Wiscon panel on the Tiptrees some years ago, when every panelist admitted to finding a number of the nominees (winners?) unreadable), but it sounds like you’re leaning toward the philosophy that says the Hugo should go to the best seller.

  25. @Chip Hitchcock: I would like to see more Big Prizes go to people who communicate with large swaths of people, numerous and various people. I consume a lot of art I think is great which I know will never be a popular taste, and I’m okay with that. But I think there’s a special place for art which is both great and popular.

  26. Ingvar – thanks!

    The mental image of a four-in-hand tie tied that way is … interesting.

  27. @John A. Arkansawyer:

    LeGuin would have been exactly the sort of pick that makes the Nobels maddening: An artist known to a very small subset of the world whose works don’t communicate well outside her core audience.

    I mourned her death and read everything I could find in the news about it for days. I read articles in the news from India upon her death, not mere checkbox obituaries but lamentations from writers who had actually read her work and mourned her passing. I can read Spanish as well as English, and after her death I read quite a few passionate obituaries in that language. There were others in other languages (I gather her works were translated into forty languages).

    Also, what Hampus said. Dylan didn’t fit into the literature category, nor did he lack success, accolades, or fame in his own field. IMO, the reward that works of art get in communicating with huge swathes of people is generally tons of money. A prize like the Nobel shouldn’t just be added to the top of it. Le Guin DID communicate with a large variety of people – to demand that every winner should be a huge bestseller would leave out the authors whose works sell steadily over time because of merit.

    It did grimly cheer me that Dylan left the Nobel prize hanging for days without even bothering to comment publically on the fact that he’d won it. Serve them right.

  28. I like Bob Dylan’s music, but I still think he was an awful choice for the Nobel Prize for Literature. Maybe not the worst choice ever (in recent times, V.S. Naipaul and J.M. Coetzee were godawful, Herta Müller was just weird and there are plenty of truly weird choices in earlier times or has anybody read Paul Heyse or Rudolf Eucken recently?), but definitely up there. And indeed the only people who applauded the Dylan choice were people of the 1960s generation blinded by nostalgia. I argued with a few of them afterwards. And of course, Dylan’s delay in acknowledging the Nobel Prize win pissed off a bunch of people who’d otherwise have defended him. Only harcore fans still apologise for him.

    Ursula K. Le Guin would have been a much better choice than Bob Dylan IMO. Indeed, Ursula K. Le Guin, Thomas Pynchon and Margaret Atwood is my personal trio of people I’d really love to see win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Le Guin is out now and Dylan may well have ruined Pynchon’s and Atwood’s choices permanently, because the Academy won’t pick too many English language and/or American winners in a row and both of them are no longer young. Never mind that the 2017 winner Kazuo Ishiguro, who is generally considered a good choice, writes in English as well.

  29. I think I have said this before, but typically, music and songwriters accomplishments are awarded by the Polar Prize and not the Nobel Prize. Dylan had already won the Polar Prize in 2000.

    I understand that the Polar Prize is not very well-known outside of Sweden, but it is celebrated on the same level as the Nobel Prize in Sweden. So that is why it felt weird for us that he should win the litterature prize also.

    Myself, I was always a staunch supporter for Pete Seeger to win the peace prize.

  30. I have nominated the Swedish Academy for the IgNobel prize…in physics! Anyone can nominate (the address is [email protected]). Here’s what I wrote:

    I’d like to nominate, for a IgNobel prize in Physics, nothing less than the Swedish Academy. Motivation:
    “For giving an interesting real-life demonstration of nuclear fission.”
    The background for this can be found in virtually any newspaper right now. More details:
    Let’s regard the Swedish Academy, with 18 members, as as an atomic nucleus with 18 nuclear particles. In comes a foreign particle, a salmanrushitron, and – poff! – a couple of particles are knocked off from the nucleus. But the atom survives, for this time. Then comes a much nastier particle, a sexassaultitron, and – bang! – the whole nucleus splits. It causes a chain reaction, resulting in a huge explosion – well, a media explosion.
    We can learn a lot from the Swedish Academy. But not about keeping peace.
    (Should the Swedish Academy win this prize, try to invite former Permanent Secretary Sara Danius, I think she has the mindset to appreciate it.)


  31. I have no idea whether Abrahams and his panel will go for it, but I like the idea — it’s got the proper silliness, and the Igs do sometimes go for outright satire rather than mere (apparent?) triviality.

  32. And now it’s on the cusp on a constitutional crisis as well, as the king has said he intends to change the bylaws for the Academy!

    I’m not so much hung up if the formal change of the bylaws comes from the government, the king, or the Academy itself, but I think the Academy will face a real long-term issue if they get help in getting out of their current formally organisational mess, but sweeps their handling of sexual harassment under the rug.

  33. I see no working alternative to changing their mandate period to five years or less. Gives them time to adjust and makes us sure to get rid of them.

  34. Well, the statutes were changed in 1914, presumably by royal decree. And looking in the statutes, “behaving dishonestly or in a manner that brings the reputation of the Academy into disrespect” are grounds for expulsion, and I would say that most of the “have not resigned” and those who voted no have done at least one of those (not to mention those who covered up sexual abuse).

    As long as academy members are willing and able to cut abusers out of their collective body, I’m in principle fine with life-long membership (in fact, I think life-long membership is kinda cool, as long as there are checks and balances).

  35. A new UPDATE on the Swedish Academy mess:

    The Royal Court issued a press release this week, which says that the King (Carl XIV Gustaf) intends to amend the statutes of the Academy in two ways: 1) Make it possible for a member to leave the Academy, 2) and that a member who hasn’t participated in the Academy’s work for two years shall be considered having left.
    Presently one member has written a formal letter of resignation (Klas Östergren), and two members haven’t participated the last two years (Kerstin Ekman, Lotta Lotass; JUST IN: Lotass says she’ll write a formal letter of resignation to be on the safe side). Four have for the time being left workling for the Academy (Kjell Espmark, Peter Englund, Katarina Frostenson and Sara Danius). Whether they will formally resign is yet unclear – the new temporary Permanent Secretary says he’ll try to convince them to come back. One member, Sara Stridsberg, is considering her membership. She has been a strong ally of former PermSec Danius.
    The statutes amendents haven’t been published or instated yet, but when that happens the Academy needs to fill at least three chairs and in the longer run and the worst case up to eight chairs (if Stridsberg leaves). In the work around the statutes the King has had several meetings with Academy members and have had the president of the Swedish Supreme Court as well as the president of the Mid-Sweden Appeals Court as advisers. Their legal opinion is that since a King founded the Academy (in 1786) the present holder of the same office “owns the statutes” and can amend them, and most likely the King has listened to what the Academy wants to change.
    The Swedish King has only ceremonial powers (opening the Riksdag, receiving ambassadors etc) but it is interesting that this is one of very few decisions of real importance that he has made.
    It is quite clear if you follow the Swedish papers that former PermSec Danius has a very strong support in the eyes of public opinion, seen as a person who tried to reform the Academy and act and now becomes a scapegoat. And Horace Engdahl is seen as the Big Villain, after the article in Expressen claiming that Danius has been the “worst secretary ever” (“No way!” people say). The Nobel Foundation has issued an open letter saying that they are very concerned about the crisis in the Academy. 350 writers have signed a statement about having lost confidence in the Academy (among the undersigned are sf/f authors Karin Tidbeck and Catharina Wrååk /aka Jo Salmson/). 160 academics and researchers in the fields of literature, language and drama have issued a similar statement.
    People in general, incl celebrities and the Minister of Culture, have a campaign of support for Danius by wearing a pussy-knot blouse. There are hundreds of pictures on social media with people wearing this piece of cloth, which has been a signature for Danius, using the hashtag #knytblus (Swedish for pussy-knot blouse) or #knytblusforsara.
    Statistics I saw somewhere on the Net, by now more than a week old, say that Swedish papers then have had 2500+ articles about the Academy crisis and foreign press has had 3500+ articles (leaders here are US and German press). You can probably double that by now. And to that comes TV news spots, radio and of course pods, Social Media etc.
    Most of the articles see the crisis as one about sexual harassments by this guy Jean-Claude Arnault, but the formal crisis within the Academy has been one of lost confidence, economic irregularities (a member receiving grants to her company, against the rules), leaks of Nobel prize winners (also against the rules, of course) and the resulting Civil War between different fractions in the Academy. The sexual harassments was however the factor starting the snowball rolling and is very visibly in the background. Police investigations are going on about that issue, though some accusations have been dropped due to reaching the statutes of limitation. Investigations about economic irregularities dealing with Arnault & Frostenson (husband and wife, and she’s been an Academy member) will probably also commence, concerning tax and accounting breaches for the cultural events club they have run.
    Now we are waiting for:
    * The amendments to the statutes.
    * What new members that will enter the Academy (and who, of those not yet formally leaving, will come back).
    * The continuted debate – will Horace Engdahl get the hint and resign, for instance? Another one with pieces of human bones in his cupboard is former PermSec Sture Allén who was warned about the sexual harassments in 1996 – the woman behind was recently interviewed in the Dages Nyheter newspaper – but thought “it didn’t seem important”.
    * How the important work about selecting the next Nobel Prize winner will proceed. Usually the spring is an intense period for this. About 200 nominations have normally been received, which during spring is boiled down to a long list of 20, and at summer’s start a short list of five. With the status of the Academy seriously damaged and membership cut down (11 at present) that’ll be interesting…
    (The Academy also has other important work: many grants and other awards, publishing the Swedish Academy’s Dictionary – the gold standard – and continuing the massive Swedish Academy’s Word Book /a work going on for 150+ years and now with 2+ milj words/, managing the Nobel library, etc.)
    Two personal notes: I met a friend recently on the opening of an exhibition and he told me that a former girlfriend of his had met Mr Arnault in the early 1990’s and had also been subject to his groping and sexual suggestions. This is second-hand info but since it’s in-line with what many others have said it’s likely to be true. It’s clear that the behaviour of this guy has been widespreadly known for a very long time! (And yet Horace Engdahl lobbied to give him a Royal medal and a government artist life grant, descibing him as a “real gentleman” and an “ideal for other men”. Gee!)
    Also, last Wednesday I went to a lecture (by the comics artist and poet Nina Hemmingsson) arranged by the Academy. They have such events about once a month and I’ve been to a few earlier, held in their magnificent and big main hall where the Nobel Prize is announced. It was an interesting lecture – but only about 20 people attended! Usually, the hall is from 2/3 to 100% filled. I wonder if it was some sort of public protest against the Academy, not to attend?
    Spring has finally arrived to Stockholm with the sun shining in full force – but dark clouds still linger over the Swedish Academy.


  36. Another one with pieces of human bones in his cupboard

    Oh, this is delightful! The English phrase is “he has skeletons in his closet”, but I quite like this translation.

    Thanks for the update. This is all very interesting. Hopefully, it will lead to a rejuvenation of the Academy, with the rotten sexual harassment, cronyism, and corruption parts excised.

  37. A comment from Ahrvid Engholm on the old version of this thread:

    As one Swedish group comes together again, another group seems to continute to disintegrate.Here’s another UPDATE…

    Sara Stridsberg, an ally to former Permanent Secretary Sara Danius, has announced she will leave the Swedish Academy. A letter of resignation has been posted, to this group which is now down to 10 (of originally 18).
    The crisis for the Swedish Academy is far from over. The so called Culture Profile, married to an Academy member, is now accused of also sex harassing Crown Princess Victoria. I translate from Expressen (

    ” ‘Her female aide threw herself forward and pulled him away’, Ebba-Witt Brattström says who was present … Three sources within and close to the Academy say they saw the Culture Profile slap Crown Princess Victoria’s bottom.”

    Not good at all. But within the Academy we find a serious kleptomaniac and another sex harasser, according to criminologist and major TV personality Leif GW Persson (the guy probably has the No 1 media platform right now, folksy, talkative, on all TV shows) writes in his Expressen column (my translation from

    “A witness has thus told me that a member used to steal office material from his workplace to such an degree that it’s grand theft. A number of women, with varied connection to the cultural sphere, have reported a number of personal experiences of how another member since a long time have acted in the so called spirit of the Culture Profile and exposed them for what the Academy itself describes as ‘unwanted intimacy’, but which according to criminal law is sexual harassment.”

    And the economic crime unit of the police have begun a formal investigation about tax evasion and other irregularities around the culture club run by the Culture Profile and his Academy-member wife Frostenson. The Nobel Foundation has raised the question if the Swedish Academy will be capable of producing a Nobel Prize winner in literature this year (some even argue that prize should be cancelled this year!). And on top of that the social democrats in the City of Stockholm says they want to investigate the strange, old agreement (from the 1920’s) that lets the Academy have the upper floor of the Old Stock Exchange for free, paying no rent – and the city even pays for maintainence and heating.

    The heir to the throne harassed and accusations creeping into the Academy itself, to add to now 8 having left, economic irregularities investigated by prosecutors, leaks of confidential Nobel info, etc. It’s getting worse.
    ABBAs coming, new song is reported to have the title “I still have faith in you”.
    The question is if that faith extends to the Swedish Academy?


  38. Good sum up by Ahrvid.

    There has also been two large petitions against the Swedish Academy. One signed by more than 200 authors. One signed by more than 200 academics. This is a huge thing as the economic power of the Swedish Academy is very large, we are talking about 300 – 400 million dollars, and they are sponsoring a lot of debutants and others. That people dare to speak out against them is a huge thing.

  39. The nickname given by the press. Otherwise, he is running his own company together with his wife, one of the members of the Swedish Academy. The company has run a club that has been used to showcase fine culture in literature, music and other things. There is a police investigation towards this club now.

    Here is the latest news in English:

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