No Nobel laureate for literature in 2018 due to sexual assault scandal
The Swedish Academy, on Friday, announced that there would be no Nobel laureate for literature in 2018, as it attempts to come to terms with controversy over the academy's links to a man who was accused of sexual assault.
For the first time since 1949, the jury that hands out the world’s most prestigious literary award will not unveil a winner and instead will reveal two winners in 2019.
According to reports, the decision came after a string of sexual assault allegations was made against French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, husband of academy member Katarina Frostenson.
“The active members of the Swedish Academy are fully aware that the present crisis of confidence places high demands on a long-term and robust work for change. We find it necessary to commit time to recovering public confidence in the academy before the next laureate can be announced. This is out of respect for previous and future literature laureates, the Nobel Foundation, and the general public,” said Anders Olsson, interim permanent secretary of the academy.
In November, it was reported that Arnault had groped, harassed or assaulted at least 18 women over the years. Accusers said that he used his connections to the academy, to pressure young women into sex, and also that some of his offenses took place at academy-owned properties in Stockholm and Paris.
According to reports, Anna-Karin Bylund, an artist said that she complained to the academy in 1996 that Arnault had assaulted her, only to be ignored. Gabriella Hakansson, a novelist, said that Arnault assaulted her in 2007. And to add to that, this week, it was reported that he had groped Crown Princess Victoria, heir to Sweden’s throne.
Although the police have opened an investigation, through Arnault has denied any wrongdoing through his lawyer.
After the allegations against Arnault came out in November, three members of the 18-member jury resigned in protest over the decision not to expel Frostenson. Reportedly, Arnault was also accused of leaking the names of seven former Nobel winners.
With only 10 active members on the jury now, the academy said it would spend the year rebuilding its membership and overhauling its practices, including modernising its statutes.