Sara Danius

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Sara Danius
Sara Danius 2016-10-13 (02min00s).jpg
Danius in 2016
Sara Maria Danius

(1962-04-05)5 April 1962
Died12 October 2019(2019-10-12) (aged 57)
Stockholm, Sweden
Alma materUppsala University
Duke University
University of Nottingham
Stockholm University
Stefan Jonsson (m. 1989⁠–⁠2010)
InstitutionsSwedish Academy
Södertörn University
Uppsala University
Stockholm University

Sara Maria Danius (5 April 1962 – 12 October 2019) was a Swedish literary critic and philosopher, and a scholar of literature and aesthetics. Danius was professor of aesthetics at Södertörn University,[1] docent of literature at Uppsala University[2] and professor in literary science at Stockholm University.[3]

Danius was a member of the Swedish Academy and its first female permanent secretary.[4] She was one of the central figures in the 2018 controversies resulting in the cancellation of the Nobel Prize in Literature that year and the following restructuring of the academy.[5]

Early life and education[edit]

Danius was the daughter of author Anna Wahlgren (b. 1942) and Lars Danius (1907–1996).[6] She was the oldest of nine full and half siblings.[7] She went to Åva gymnasium in Täby, where she studied natural science.[8] She played basketball in Elitserien, the highest league in Sweden, and continued to play on a recreational level throughout her life.[8][9] In 1981–82, she worked as a certified croupier and dealer at casinos in Stockholm.[8][9]

Danius graduated from Stockholm University in 1986.[10] She received her Master of Arts in critical theory at the University of Nottingham in 1989. She lived in the United States for ten years and, in 1997, received a Ph.D. from Duke University. In 1999 she received a Ph.D. from Uppsala University.[3][10] She published on the relationship between literature and society and wrote about Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, and James Joyce.


Danius was a literary critic for the Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter from 1986.[6] In 2008, she became professor of aesthetics at Södertörn University[1] and docent of literature at Uppsala University.[2] She was an executive member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Letters since 2010,[11] and in 2013 became professor in literary science at Stockholm University.[3]

Perseverance, self-criticism, inquisitiveness. I'm not particularly curious, but I can become obsessed with certain things. I have realized I'm something of a nerd.

— Danius about her career in a 2013 interview[3]
Danius announces the Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan, 2016.

In March 2013, Danius was elected to the Swedish Academy, succeeding Knut Ahnlund on chair 7. Danius was formally installed in the academy at a ceremony on 20 December 2013.[1][2] She took over the post as permanent secretary of the academy from Peter Englund on 1 June 2015.[4][12] She was asked to resign from her position and left the academy on 12 April 2018, against the background of critique over the academy's handling of the Me Too-related Jean-Claude Arnault scandal.[5][13] The scandal evolved into the 2018 controversies resulting in the cancellation of the Nobel Prize in Literature that year and the following restructuring of the academy.[14][15]

Two former permanent secretaries, Sture Allén and Horace Engdahl, called Danius a weak leader in her handling of the affair.[16] On 26 February 2019 she resigned from her seat at the Swedish Academy.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Danius was interested in fashion.[3][18] At the Nobel Banquets she wore specially designed dresses by Pär Engsheden and inspired by three authors she admired: Marcel Proust, Honoré de Balzac and Virginia Woolf.[19] Her signature garment, a pussy bow blouse,[18][20] became a symbol to wear for those who supported her during the Swedish Academy crisis.[21]

From 1989 to 2010, she was married to author Stefan Jonsson; they had a son named Leo.[6][8]

Danius died on 12 October 2019, aged 57, after having suffered from breast cancer for several years.[22][23][24]


  • Försök om litteratur, Stockholm: Bonnier, 1998. ISBN 9789100567569.
  • Prousts motor, Stockholm: Bonnier, 2000. ISBN 9789100571061.
  • The senses of modernism: technology, perception, and aesthetics, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2002. ISBN 0-8014-3899-3.
  • The prose of the world: Flaubert and the art of making things visible, Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2006. ISBN 91-554-6599-4
  • Voices: contemporary ceramic art from Sweden, Stockholm: Carlsson, 2006. ISBN 91-7203-778-4.
  • Proust-Benjamin : om fotografin, 2011. ISBN 978-91-86883-05-8.
  • Näsa för nyheter : essä om James Joyce, 2013. ISBN 978-91-87219-02-3.
  • Den blå tvålen: Romanen och konsten att göra saker och ting synliga, 2013. ISBN 978-91-0-012049-8.
  • Husmoderns död och andra texter, Stockholm: Bonnier, 2014. ISBN 9789100171971.
  • Om Bob Dylan, 2018. ISBN 9789100177812.


  1. ^ a b c "Ny ledamot i Svenska Akademien" (Press release) (in Swedish). Swedish Academy. 7 March 2013. Archived from the original on 11 March 2013.
  2. ^ a b c Wiman, Björn (7 March 2013). "DN-medarbetare tar plats i Svenska akademien". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish).
  3. ^ a b c d e Anell, Eva (1 October 2013). "Vill bidra med humor och olydnad". (in Swedish). Curie. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  4. ^ a b "Sara Danius ersätter Peter Englund". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). 20 December 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b Jones, Evelyn (12 April 2018). "Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy leaves her position". Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Sara Danius, Vem är det: Svensk biografisk handbok 1993, p. 235
  7. ^ Brown, Andrew (17 July 2018). "The ugly scandal that cancelled the Nobel prize". The Guardian. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  8. ^ a b c d "Sara Danius – från croupière till första kvinna som ständig sekreterare". Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). 12 October 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Danius, Sara". (in Swedish). Swedish Academy. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b Sara Danius, profile at Södertörn University (in Swedish)
  11. ^ "Sara Danius". (in Swedish). Royal Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  12. ^ "Chair no. 7 - Sara Danius". The Swedish Academy. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 7 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Sara Danius forlater Svenska Akademien". Aftenposten (in Norwegian Bokmål). Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  14. ^ "Nobel Prize for Literature postponed amid Swedish Academy turmoil". BBC. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  15. ^ Holmgren, Mia (2 May 2018). "Kungen: Det är nu Akademiens ansvar att vidta nödvändiga åtgärder" [The King: The academy is now responsible for taking necessary action]. Dagens Nyheter (in Swedish). Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  16. ^ Anderson, Christina (12 April 2018). "In Nobel Scandal, a Man Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct. A Woman Takes the Fall". The New York Times. Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  17. ^ "Sara Danius lämnar Svenska Akademien" (Press release) (in Swedish). Svenska Akademien. 26 February 2019.
  18. ^ a b Ljung, Susanne (12 January 2018). "Susanne Ljung möter Sara Danius" (in Swedish). Sveriges Radio. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  19. ^ Strömqvist, Susanna (22 February 2018). "Pär Engsheden om tanken bakom Sara Danius Nobelklänningar: "Skapade som en trilogy"". ELLE (in Swedish). Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  20. ^ Strömquist, Susanna (12 December 2015). "Sara Danius: "Jag är alltid på jakt efter en snygg knytblus"". ELLE (in Swedish). Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  21. ^ Jerdén, Erik (12 April 2018). "Knytblus-upprop till stöd för Danius". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  22. ^ Jones, Evelyn (12 October 2019). "Former Secretary of the Swedish Academy Sara Danius is dead". Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
  23. ^ Farran-Lee, Lydia; Wikén, Erik (12 October 2019). "Sara Danius död efter lång tids sjukdom" (in Swedish). SVT.
  24. ^ "Former head of scandal-hit Swedish Academy dies of cancer". Reuters. 12 October 2019. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
Cultural offices
Preceded by
Knut Ahnlund
Swedish Academy,
Seat No.7

Succeeded by
Åsa Wikforss