What will become of the Nobel Prize in Literature?

The Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature, has been hit by a major crisis: in the aftermath of a corruption and harassment scandal involving the husband of Academy member Katarina Frostenson, three of the other members who are elected for life have walked out. Not only Swedish commentators are wondering what this means for the Academy's future.

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Upsala Nya Tidning (SE) /

Sweden's reputation is being tarnished

Upsala Nya Tidning fears a loss of prestige for the Nobel Prize and all Sweden:

“The scandal that has hit the Swedish Academy is growing worse every day. At the centre of the drama is Katarina Frostenson, who is married to someone accused of sexual harassment and with whom she runs a cultural institution that has received large sums of money from the Academy over the years. ... In this situation it would only be appropriate for Frostenson to vacate her seat out of a sense of self-preservation and regard for the institution she represents. But clearly she intends to stay put. ... With each day the scandal continues, the reputation of the Nobel Prize and ultimately of Sweden as a nation is being further tarnished.”

Jyllands-Posten (DK) /

Collapse of the supreme moral authority

Jyllands-Posten can't resist gloating over the scandal in neighbouring Sweden:

“Our Swedish sister people have many good qualities. ... However, they are also fond of casting themselves as a great moral authority, which often does not end well. Changing governments preach peace and understanding yet don't have any qualms about quietly exporting weapons. ... For a long time Sweden accused other countries, including Denmark, of taking in too few refugees, until Sweden itself closed its borders. ... And now the Swedish Academy is wringing its hands. ... It could well be that the Nobel Prize is in danger, even if Per Wästberg, Chairman of the literature prize committee, has stressed that the Nobel Prize will not collapse. Say what you will, but this is certainly a moral collapse.”

Neue Zürcher Zeitung (CH) /

Academy should go international

The current crisis at the Swedish Academy represents the opportunity for the long overdue renewal of the institution, the Neue Zürcher Zeitung comments:

“The discord at the Academy and its decimation simply expose a deeper problem: the Academy's provincialism has long since been rendered obsolete. The Swedish King Carl Gustav has now intervened in the discussion. But perhaps a more robust royal intervention is needed. To stop the institution from becoming nothing but a superfluous relic of itself, the monarch, by virtue of his position, could cut the Gordian knot resulting from the rules and the stalemate situation and place the Academy on a new and - why not? - international footing.”