The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Literature Prize, appointed a new head Friday as a sexual harrassment scandal rocked the prestigious institution.
Two members, including permanent secretary Sara Danius, resigned Thursday over a controversy that has divided the Academy into two camps.
The scandal centers on allegations by 18 women that they had been subject to harassment and physical abuse by Jean-Claude Arnault, the French husband of Academy member Katarina Frostenson. He denies the allegations.
Anders Olsson, a writer and professor of literature, said on SR radio that he had been appointed to the post on a “temporary basis.”
Danius, the first women to head the Swedish Academy since its founding in 1786, said Thursday: “It is the Academy’s wish that I leave my post as permanent secretary.”
“I would have liked to have continued but there are other things to do in life.”
She said she was also leaving the Academy. Technically, the Academy’s 18 members are appointed for life and cannot resign, but they can choose not to participate in the Academy’s meetings and decisions.
Katarina Frostenson meanwhile also announced she would no longer take part in the Academy’s work.
The Swedish Academy, which had subsidised her husband’s cultural club Forum in Stockholm for many years, cut all ties with his establishment — a key meeting point for the country’s cultural elite — in November after the allegations emerged.
The Academy meanwhile is conducting an internal investigation into the allegations amid fears that its global reputation and the standing of its Literature prize could be tarnished.
“This is devastating for the reputation of the Nobel prize,” Mattias Berg, who covers cultural affairs for SR radio, told AFP.
“It seems the Nobel prize for literature, the most important prize for literature in the world, is awarded by an Academy which shows nothing but a lack of judgement and integrity,” Berg said.
The Swedish Academy, which comes under the direct patronage of the Swedish king, is traditionally very discreet, with its meetings and decisions normally shrouded in secrecy. It has been deeply shaken by the scandal.
The other Nobel prizes — for medicine, physics, chemistry, economics and peace — are decided by other institutions in Sweden and Norway.