The Nobel Prize institution is in crisis as the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, was forced to resign on Thursday.
“There are other things to do in life,” Danius said, making clear that the board asked for her resignation. Danius held the post since 2015.
Danius’ leadership was undermined by her predecessor, who challenged her handling of a case of sexual abuse, conflict of interest, and the leaking of Literature Prize winners.
The sexual abuse scandal involved a man married to a member of the Academy. The woman resigned from her post on the board on Thursday. Unlike Swedish Radio, Reuters published the identity of the man and the Academy member as Mr. Jean-Claude Arnault and Mrs. Katarina Fronstenson.
There was apparently an economic dimension to the scandal.
In November 2017 the husband had been supported financially by the Academy to set up a cultural club in Stockholm. That raised a question of conflict of interest. Mr. Arnault has denied the substance of both sexual abuse and conflict of interest allegations.
The former Secretary Horace Engdahl wrote an open letter to the Swedish daily Expressen on Tuesday, calling Danius the worst Secretary since the foundation of the Academy in 1786. Engdahl advocated doing nothing over these allegations, while Danius wanted a probe; three supporters of Sara Danius resigned in disgust.
To her defense, the Minister of Education Anna Ekström said Engdahl is using the language of the playground.
The crisis is threatening the very institution of the Academy, since members are appointed for life. Therefore, they cannot resign but are technically refusing to participate without being replaced.