Rape, the Swedish Academy and the Literature Nobel

The task of selecting the Literature Nobel has to be taken away from the Swedish Academy if the prize is not to be forever tainted by the spectre of rape.

Unless all the members of the current Swedish Academy resign and the Academy is reconstituted, the Nobel Foundation will have to take the task of selecting the Literature Prize away from the Academy and give it to some other institution. If not, every future Literature laureate will be forever coupled to an institution which, at best,  turned a blind eye to rape and sexual predation or, at worst, enabled rape and sexual predation. Even changing out all the members may not be enough to take the stain away.

Today Jean-Claude Arnold – referred to in the Swedish media as the “kulturprofilen” (the culture profile) – was sentenced to 2 years in prison for rape. Eighteen women accused him of sexual predation but only one of the cases came to a prosecution. He was married to a member of the Academy. The pair together ran a “club” which received large grants from the Academy.

Jean-Claude Arnault

BBC

A French photographer at the heart of a rape scandal that saw this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature postponed has been handed a two-year prison sentence. On Monday a Swedish court found Jean-Claude Arnault, 72, guilty of raping a woman in an apartment in Stockholm in 2011.

Arnault, who is well known in Sweden, is married to a former member of the centuries-old Swedish Academy.

The crisis forced the academy to cancel this year’s literature award in May. 

In late 2017, some 18 women came forward in a Swedish newspaper to accuse Arnault of sexual harassment and assault in the wake of the #MeToo movement, prompting an investigation by state prosecutors. He later denied all the alleged incidents, many of which were said to have happened at properties owned by the Academy or at his literary club. All but one of the cases ended up being dropped.

In April this year, the Swedish cultural organisation handed over an internal report it had conducted through lawyers to judicial authorities. The same month, it voted against removing Arnault’s wife, the poet and writer Katarina Frostenson, from its 18-person committee. This, along with accusations of conflict of interest and the leaking of Nobel winners’ names, is said to have divided the Academy and sparked a wave of resignations – including by Ms Frostenson and the Academy’s head, Prof Sara Danius. Technically, members of the Swedish Academy cannot resign from their positions, which are assumed for life. But they can stop taking part in its activities.

The members of the Academy have been fighting (like a bunch of horny cats comes to mind) in the media for the last year and a more unedifying spectacle is hard to describe. The unadulterated arrogance and narcissism of the members has been breathtaking.


 

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