It seemed rather odd when it was announced that the Nobel Prize for Literature wouldn’t be awarded this year because of sex scandals surrounding the husband of a committee member. The person in question is Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of the poet Katarina Frostenson. Multiple serious accusations stretching back 20 years have been made against Arnault. But why should that disrupt the prize? Turns out that there’s a lot more to this than meets the eye, as this article in The Guardian tells us. There are only 18 members of the Swedish Academy, which administers the prize. Six of them withdrew from the prize discussions and two others were forced to do so – that leaves 10 members, and the quorum is 12. And now the Nobel Foundation is refusing to fund the prize until the Academy is cleaned up. So not only is the Literature Prize on the line, but the entire existence of the Swedish Academy, the bastion of high culture, is in question.
The whole thing has echoes of the FIFA scandal. There’s an entitled cadre with access to luxurious apartments in Stockholm and Paris, academic subsidies that members profited personally from, suggestions that large bets were placed on inside information of the winners, coverups, bullying and character assassination. And of course the complaint that “the feminists have driven Sweden to lunacy”. All this in a body that sees itself as the standard-bearer for culture in a world going to the cultural dogs. FIFA starts to look like good clean snout-in-troughery.
A fascinating read, and what great material it would make for someone like Martin Suter.
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