Blank page for Nobel Literature Prize in 2018 awards season

An amputated 2018 Nobel season opens next week in Stockholm, without a Literature Prize for the first time in 70 years due to a #MeToo scandal. The Medicine Prize laureates will be revealed by the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute on Monday, but many eyes will at the same time be turned to a Stockholm courthouse for the verdict against a Frenchman charged with rape who has close ties to the Swedish Academy. The Academy, which has awarded the prestigious literary distinction since the Nobels were first awarded in 1901, has been torn apart by an acrimonious dispute over how to manage its affiliation with Jean-Claude Arnault. In ruins, the Academy has decided to put off this year’s Literature Prize until 2019 when it will award two prizes — the first postponement since William Faulkner’s 1949 honour was awarded in 1950. At the centre of the scandal is 72-year-old Arnault, married to Academy member Katarina Frostenson and an influential figure on Stockholm’s culture scene for decades. His cultural club Forum received Academy funding for years. Six of the Academy’s 18 members, who are appointed for life, no longer actively participate in the institution’s work due to the discord, adding to two others who had already stepped aside for other reasons. Without a quorum of 12 and unable to elect new members — and criticised for its conflicts of interest, culture of silence and internal rivalries — the Academy has vowed to undertake massive reforms. Traditionally known for its integrity and discretion, the Academy’s row has turned into a titillating public spectacle as members regularly exchange vicious blows via the media. The scandal has been “disastrous to (the Academy’s) reputation,” Swedish literary critic at daily Svenska Dagbladet Madelaine Levy told AFP. The Nobel Foundation, which manages the finances and the administration of the Nobel Prizes, hopes the Academy will pull itself together in time to award the prize again in 2019.