Getting recognized for awards has become a huge part of society and it has brought forth a huge cluster of academics, artists, scientists, humanitarians, and many more astounding individuals of invention and influence. The Nobel Peace Prize is a prime example of a prestigious award that many esteemed members of the academe deliberate on with copious amounts of effort and meticulous observation on other people’s work.
Last year was a rather tough year for the Swedish Institute, as they were unable to hand out the Literature Nobel Prize on Literature for the first time in nearly 70 years. The Swedish Academy has been handing out Nobel Prizes for physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, economics, and the promotion of peace since 1901. They announced in May of 2018 that they will be announcing two winners for Literature this year, 2019, because of the circumstances that surrounded the academy then.
The Swedish Academy’s Alleged Involvement
In the height of the Time’s Up and Me Too Movement, you would think people of influence would be more proactive when it comes to passion and professionalism, but you’d be surprised to know how far people will go to exert themselves in unwarranted situations. Jean-Claude Arnault, who is a Swedish-French photographer, was accused 18 times by different women of sexual abuse and was convicted of rape in 2018. According to the New York Times, the Swedish Academy was thrown into a mix of scandalous headlines as they were accused of financial wrongdoings and hints of covering up Arnault’s rape allegations.
It was reported that the academy named Arnault and his wife, a poet by the name of Katarina Frostenson who ran a cultural organization in Stockholm, for receiving huge sums of money from the renowned institution. Since the news broke out, multiple resignations were thrown at the Swedish Academy, with less than the minimum requirement of 12 members to vote and announce a winner. According to the Guardian, there’s a technicality to the appointment of the members requiring them to life-long membership. This sparked protest amongst the members, prompting years of refusal to attend meetings, which the King of Sweden, King Carl XVI Gustaf, altered by law last year.
In a due review of their policies and revised criteria for membership, the Foundation said in a statement, “The Academy also no longer includes any members who are subject to conflict of interest or criminal investigations.” The changes have definitely taken a toll on the selection process of this year’s two winners for Nobel literature which will be announced on October 2019, according to the New York Times. The renowned foundation named after Alfred Nobel and his lifelong work will be expecting more from the Academy with high regard and optimism in terms of carrying out the next few prizes. In a statement to the Guardian, they said, “Although it will take time to fully restore confidence … the prerequisites for this are now good.”
Filling the Void
The negative press the Nobel Foundation and The Swedish Academy have received in the past year alone has people’s trust for the institution on the rocks. This has left people curiously wondering what the Swedish Academy will do next to ascertain the reputation and works of the Academy as a whole. This eventually led to the establishment of the New Academy Prize which Alexandra Pascalidou, among other members, created to take the place of last year’s Nobel Prize for Literature. It garnered international attention for its attempt to reach out to the public, specifically Swedish librarians, in selecting the winner. The New Academy Prize went to Maryse Conde, a Guadeloupe writer and Professor Emerita of French at Columbia University.
According to the New York Times, Bjorn Wiman, the culture editor of Dagens Nyheter, the Swedish newspaper who revealed the infamous Arnault scandal, said in a phone interview, “I think the right decision would have been to award one prize, but leave the one for 2018. That will just be a reminder of what happened and the catastrophic way the academy handled the allegations. This wasn’t the first time the Academy had to deal with another salacious issue, with Bob Dylan’s 2016 recognition gathering much argument over whether a songwriter is considered to be a proper recipient to the literature prize.
Regardless, many notable journalists and critics will all be watching out for who the Academy hands the prize to this year. Wiman expresses his truest sympathies for the recipient of the prize adding, “I really pity the author that will be awarded it,” Mr. Wiman added. “They will forever be associated with a scandal.” Much has been said about the Nobel Prize and much more has yet to come with this year’s possible recipients, rest assured though that whoever does get the acclamation will have to hold his or her head up high and deliver twice as much grit and glory people will expect of them after receiving the prize money and title. By the end of the day, it’s all about what you do with the recognition that matters, right?