Sixth member quits Swedish Academy over sex scandal

A sixth member of the Swedish Academy has announced she is stepping down over the institution’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against a member’s husband.

Sixth member quits Swedish Academy over sex scandal
The novelist Sara Stridsberg (L) accompanies Sara Danius from her last meeting as Permanent Secretary. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT
Sara Stridsberg, a novelist, on Friday asked for permission to stand down from her duties, the academy announced in a one-sentence press announcement sent out on Saturday. 
“The Swedish Academy would like to communicate that Saraa Stridsberg on April 27 has requested to leave her post as a member,” the Acacemy said. 
Anders Olsson, the Academy’s temporary permanent secretary, told Sweden’s TT newswire he regretted her decision. 
“We truly regret Sara Stridsberg’s decision to leave the academy. We are currently engaged in a process of recovery for which her abilities would have been valuable.” 
Stridsberg had been one of the strongest supporters of the former permanent secretary Sara Danius, as she sought to expel the poet Katarina Frostenson, whose husband was accused in November of sexual harassment or assault by 18 different women. 
”I battled the whole of that evening for Sara Danius to be able to stay as permanent secretary,” she wrote in a text message on the day of Danius’ resignation. “For me she had been a real hope.” 
The Academy now has just ten of its 18 members remaining active, following the decision of three members – Peter Englund, Klas Östergren and Kjell Espmark – to leave their post at the start of April in protest at a decision not to remove Frostesen. Frostensen and Danius then stepped down the following week. 
The French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault was accused of sexual harassment or assault by 18 different women in an article published in the Dagens Nyheter newspaper in November. 
An investigation into the accusations commissioned by the Academy and carried out by the law firm Hammarskiöld & Co in spring submitted a report to the academy which accused Arnault and Frostensen of financial improprieties, and Arnault of leaking the winner of the prize on seven separate occasions. 
On Friday, the Swedish Economic Crimes Agency announced it had launched a preliminary investigation into the Academy. 
Under the statutes which established the Academy in 1786, those appointed members remain so for life, whether they attend the weekly meetings or not. 
Even before the crisis, two surviving members were already inactive. One, Kerstin Ekman, stood down in 1989 in protest at the Academy’s refusal to denounce Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini’s call for the death of author Salman Rushdie. 
The other, Lotta Lotass, ceased being active in 2016, and has said she did so because she didn't feel welcome or that she fitted in to the Academy's culture.
She formally asked to leave in April after Kung Carl XVI Gustaf, who has authority over the body, said he might change its statutes so that members who have resigned can be replaced. 

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Sara Danius, former head of Swedish Academy, dies aged 57

Author, literary scholar and former Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius has died at the age of 57.

Sara Danius, former head of Swedish Academy, dies aged 57
Sara Danius in 2013. Photo: Bertil Enevåg Ericson / TT

Danius passed away on Saturday morning after a long illness, Swedish media including SVT reported.

“The family deeply mourns her passing and looks back on her life with great gratitude, pride and joy,” her family said in a statement provided to TT.

A professor of literature at Stockholm University and a prominent essayist, Danius published a series of essay collections.

She was best known for her time in the Swedish Academy, however.

After becoming a member in 2013, Danius was later chosen as Permanent Secretary in 2015 – the first woman ever to hold the prestigious post.

”There was a shimmer around her, stylistically and intellectually. The Swedish cultural world will be poorer without her. My thoughts go to her closest family, it is a terrible loss,” Dagens Nyheter culture editor Björn Wiman said in the newspaper’s report of her passing.

Born in 1962, Danius began her career as a journalist before switching to academic studies in the 1990s. She earned her doctorate degree from Uppsala University in 1999 and was appointed Professor of Aesthetics at Södertörn University in 2008.

She became a professor of literature at Stockholm University in 2013, the same year she was chosen as a member of the Swedish Academy.

As Permanent Secretary, she was the voice and face of the body that awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature to Belarussian journalist Svetlana Alexievitch, US songwriter Bob Dylan and British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro. 

She resigned in 2018 in the wake of a scandal that emerged from the #MeToo movement to halt sexual abuse, and forced the Academy to postpone awarding the literature prize that year

She later described the events as “one of the biggest culture scandals ever in modern Swedish history”. 

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