Members deny return to scandal-hit Swedish Academy

The ousted head of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, has denied that she is returning to the Nobel Literature Prize-awarding body, despite media reports to the contrary.

Members deny return to scandal-hit Swedish Academy
Sara Danius on the day she left the Swedish Academy. Photo: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

The news quickly spread after Svenska Dagbladet reported that Danius had chosen to return to the Academy alongside Kjell Espmark and Peter Englund, who also stepped down earlier this year in a show of support for her.

But both Danius and Englund denied the rumours.

“NO PLANS TO RETURN. Yesterday it was stated in Swedish media that I had decided to return to the Swedish Academy. The information is incorrect. At the moment, I have no such plans,” Danius wrote on Facebook.

The trio were among six members who left their posts in the wake of a series of scandals sparked by sexual assault allegations against Jean-Claude Arnault, a well-known cultureal figure in Sweden with close links to the Swedish Academy.

Arnault, who is married to Academy member and poet Katarina Frostensson, denied the allegations, but the domino effect sparked a row about nepotism and potential Nobel Prize leaks which split the Academy.

FOR MEMBERS: Let's talk about the Swedish Academy's rapid descent into farce

Left, Englund, and third from left, Espmark, at a meeting of the Swedish Academy in happier times. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/TT

There are currently only ten left of the Academy's 18 members (two had already left for reasons unrelated to the recent row). This has caused a problem for the organization, whose statutes state that it needs at least 12 to elect new members. The return of Danius, Espmark and Englund would raise the headcount to 13.

It was Espmark who sparked the rumours of their return in an interview with Svenska Dagbladet.

“I will help to the best of my ability,” he told the newspaper on Thursday.

“We have talked among the three of us. A great responsibility for the Academy falls on us.”

Englund denied he intended to resume his seat. “I currently have no plans to return to the work of the Swedish Academy and will not take part in any meetings,” he wrote in a blog post. 

However, he added that he did “wish to play a constructive part” in rebuilding the prestigious institution. “This means that I will POSSIBLY vote for new members. That is all I have to say for now.”

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