Like the Stuff of a Novel, Scandal Rips at Nobel Body

Sara Danius, public face of body that gives out Literature Nobel, is out
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 13, 2018 8:45 AM CDT

(Newser) – A male accused of sexual assault and leaks of secret information; a woman who takes the fall. What sounds like the plot of novel is instead the true story of a scandal that's riling the literary world. Sara Danius, who has since 2015 served as the first female permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy—essentially making her the public face of the body that doles out the Nobel Prize in Literature—is out, and Jean-Claude Arnault is the reason why. The New York Times reports he's a cultural bigwig in Sweden and married to one of the academy's members. But his academy connection runs deeper than that and involves funding, and so a newspaper's November expose on Arnault and the 18 women who had accused him of sexual harassment and assault hit hard.

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The newspaper alleged incidents took place at academy-owned and -funded properties over two decades and accused Arnault of leaking info on the prize winner on seven occasions. The academy cut him off and investigated via an outside law firm, but that didn't calm the internal consternation of what the Local describes as a historically "discreet" organization: Three members quit last week as an act of protest after the board voted not to boot Arnault's wife, Katarina Frostenson, reports the BBC; she resigned Thursday, the same day Danius was ousted. The scandal "has already affected the Nobel Prize quite severely and that is quite a big problem," said Danius. "It was the wish of the Academy that I should leave my role as Permanent Secretary." Arnault has denied the allegations. (Read more Nobel Prize for Literature stories.)

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