Swedish Academy

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

Swedish Academy
Swedish Academy.svg
MottoSnille och Smak
(Talent and taste)
Formation20 March 1786
HeadquartersStockholm, Sweden
18 members
Permanent Secretary
Anders Olsson (pro tempore)

The Swedish Academy (Swedish: Svenska Akademien), founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. It has 18 members, who are elected for life. The academy makes the annual decision on who will be the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded in memory of the donor Alfred Nobel.


The Swedish Academy in Stockholm

The Swedish Academy was founded in 1786 by King Gustav III. Modelled after the Académie française, it has 18 members. The motto of the Academy is "Talent and Taste" ("Snille och Smak" in Swedish). The primary purpose of the Academy is to further the "purity, strength, and sublimity of the Swedish language" ("Svenska Språkets renhet, styrka och höghet") (Walshe, 1965). To that end the Academy publishes two dictionaries.[1] The first is a one-volume glossary called Svenska Akademiens ordlista (SAOL). The second is a multi-volume dictionary, edited on principles similar to those of the Oxford English Dictionary, entitled Svenska Akademiens Ordbok (SAOB). The SAOL has reached its 14th edition while the first volume of the SAOB was published in 1898 and, as of 2017, work has progressed to words beginning with the letter "V".

The building now known as the Stockholm Stock Exchange Building was built for the bourgeoisie. The bottom floor was used as a trading exchange (this later became the stock exchange) and the upper floor was used for balls, New Year's Eve parties, etc. When the academy was founded, the ballroom was the biggest room in Stockholm that could be heated and thus used in the winter, so the King asked if he could borrow it.

Dag Hammarskjöld's farm in Backåkra, used as a retreat for Academy members

The academy has had its annual meeting there every year since, attended by members of the Swedish royal family.[2] However, it was not until 1914 the academy gained the right to use the upper floor as their own for all eternity. It is here that the Academy meets and, amongst other business, announces the names of Nobel Prize laureates. The latter makes it arguably one of the most influential literary bodies in the world.

Dag Hammarskjöld's former farm at Backåkra, close to Ystad in southern Sweden, was bought in 1957 as a summer residence by Hammarskjöld, then Secretary-General of the United Nations (1953–1961). The south wing of the farm is reserved as a summer retreat for the 18 members of the Swedish Academy, of which Hammarskjöld was a member.

Prior to 2018 it was not possible for members of the Academy to resign; membership was for life, although the Academy could decide to exclude members – this happened twice to Gustaf Mauritz Armfelt who was excluded in 1794, re-elected in 1805, and excluded again in 1811. In 1989, Werner Aspenström, Kerstin Ekman and Lars Gyllensten chose to stop participating in the meetings of the Academy, over its refusal to express support for Salman Rushdie when Ayatollah Khomeini condemned him to death for The Satanic Verses, and in 2005, Knut Ahnlund made the same decision, as a protest against the choice of Elfride Jelinek as the Nobel laureate for 2004.[3][4][5] On 25 November 2017, Lotta Lotass said in an interview that she has not participated in the meetings of the Academy for more than two years and does not consider herself a member any more.[6]

2018 controversies[edit]

In April 2018, three members of the academy board resigned in response to a sexual-misconduct investigation involving author Jean-Claude Arnault, husband of board member Katarina Frostenson.[7] Arnault was accused by at least 18 women of sexual assault and harassment;[7] he denied all accusations.[8] The three members resigned in protest over the lack of what they felt appropriate action against Arnault.[7][9][10] Two former permanent secretaries, Sture Allén and Horace Engdahl, called the current leader, Sara Danius, a weak leader.[7]

On 10 April, Danius resigned from her position by the Academy,[11] bringing the number of empty seats to four. Frostenson voluntarily agreed to withdraw from participating in the academy, bringing the total of withdraws to five. Because two other seats were still vacant from the Rushdie affair, this left only 11 active members. The scandal was widely seen as damaging to the credibility of the Nobel prize in Literature and the authority of the academy. "With this scandal you cannot possibly say that this group of people has any kind of solid judgment," noted Swedish journalist Björn Wiman.[7]

On 27 April 2018, the Swedish Economic Crime Authority opened a preliminary investigation regarding financial crime linked to the Academy.[12][13]

On 2 May 2018, the Swedish King amended the rules of the academy and made it possible for members to resign. The new rules also states that a member who has been inactive in the work of the academy for more than two years, can be asked to resign.[14] Following the new rules, the first members to formally be granted permission to leave the Academy and vacating their chairs were Kerstin Ekman, Klas Östergren, Sara Stridsberg and Lotta Lotass.[15]

On 4 May 2018, the Swedish Academy announced that following the preceding internal struggles the Nobel laureate for literature selected in 2018 will be postponed until 2019, when two laureates will be selected.[16]

Awards and prizes[edit]

Since 1901, the Academy has annually decided who will be the laureate for the Nobel Prize in Literature, awarded in memory of the donor Alfred Nobel.

The Swedish Academy annually awards nearly 50 different prizes and scholarships, most of them for domestic Swedish authors. Common to all is that they are awarded without competition and without application. The Dobloug Prize, the largest of these at $40,000, is a literature prize awarded for Swedish and Norwegian fiction.[17][18]

The Big Prize[edit]

Swedish: Stora Priset, literally the Big Prize, was instituted by King Gustav III. The prize, which consists of a single gold medal, is the most prestigious award that can be awarded by the Swedish Academy. It has been awarded to, among others, Selma Lagerlöf (1904 and 1909), Herbert Tingsten (1966), Astrid Lindgren (1971), Evert Taube (1972) and Tove Jansson (1994).

Other awards[edit]

The Academy awards around 50 prizes each year. A person does not have to apply nor compete for the prizes.

Full list of awards (in Swedish)

Current members[edit]

The previous permanent secretary of the Academy was Sara Danius, who was preceded by Peter Englund. Danius stepped down in 2018 following a period of internal conflicts. The current members of the Swedish Academy listed by seat number:

Seat Member Born Age Elected Notes
1. Eric M. Runesson 1960 58 2018 To be introduced in December 2018.[19]
2. Bo Ralph 1945 73 1999
3. Sture Allén 1928 90 1980 Permanent secretary 1986–1999
4. Anders Olsson 1949 69 2008 Permanent secretary pro tempore[20]
5. Göran Malmqvist 1924 94 1985
6. Tomas Riad 1959 59 2011
7. Sara Danius 1962 56 2013 Permanent secretary 2015-2018. Inactive.[21]
8. Jesper Svenbro 1944 74 2006
9. vacant Jayne Svenungsson announced her resignation in November 2018.[22]
10. Peter Englund 1957 61 2002 Permanent secretary 2009–2015
11. Mats Malm 1964 54 2018 To be introduced in December 2018.
12. Per Wästberg 1933 85 1997
13. vacant Since 2018[15]
14. Kristina Lugn 1948 70 2006
15. Jila Mossaed 1948 70 2018 To be introduced in December 2018.[24]
16. Kjell Espmark 1930 88 1981 Inactive[23]
17. Horace Engdahl 1948 70 1997 Permanent secretary 1999–2009
18. Katarina Frostenson 1953 65 1992 Inactive[25]

Permanent secretaries[edit]

Order Seat Permanent Secretary of the Academy Born Years Notes
1. 11. Nils von Rosenstein 1752 1786–1824
2. 13. Frans Michael Franzén 1772 1824–1834
3. 12. Bernhard von Beskow 1796 1834–1868
4. 5. Johan Erik Rydqvist 1800 1868–1869 pro tempore
5. 15. Ludvig Manderström 1806 1869–1872
6. 12. Carl Gustaf Strandberg 1825 1872–1874 pro tempore
7. 9. Henning Hamilton 1814 1874–1881
8. 11. Bror Emil Hildebrand 1806 1881–1883 pro tempore
9. 8. Carl David af Wirsén 1842 1883–1912 pro tempore in 1883–84
10. 6. Hans Hildebrand 1842 1912 pro tempore
11. 11. Erik Axel Karlfeldt 1864 1913–1931
12. 14. Per Hallström 1866 1931–1941
13. 13. Anders Österling 1884 1941–1964
14. 7. Karl Ragnar Gierow 1904 1964–1977
15. 14. Lars Gyllensten 1921 1977–1986
16. 3. Sture Allén 1928 1986–1999
17. 17. Horace Engdahl 1948 1999–2009
18. 10. Peter Englund 1957 2009–2015
19. 7. Sara Danius 1962 2015–2018
20. 4. Anders Olsson 1949 2018- pro tempore[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Store norske leksikon (2005–2007). "Svenska Akademien". Store norske leksikon.
  2. ^ "Royal attendance at the formal gathering of the Swedish Academy". Kungahuset.se. Swedish Royal Court. 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2017.
  3. ^ "Nobel Judge Steps Down in Protest". BBC News Online. BBC. 11 October 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2007.
  4. ^ Associated Press, "Who Deserves Nobel Prize? Judges Don't Agree", MSNBC, 11 October 2005. Retrieved 13 October 2007.
  5. ^ Harding, Luke (12 October 2005). "Nobel winner's work is violent porn, says juror". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 August 2017.
  6. ^ Därför lämnade Lotta Lotass Svenska Akademien, 25 November 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e Christina Anderson (April 12, 2018). "In Nobel Scandal, a Man Is Accused of Sexual Misconduct. A Woman Takes the Fall". The New York Times. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  8. ^ Andersson, Christina (20 April 2018). "Nobel Panel Admits Inquiry Found Sexual Misconduct, but Nothing Illegal". The New York Times. The New York Times.
  9. ^ David Keyton (April 6, 2018). "3 judges quit Nobel literature prize committee". The Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  10. ^ "Sexual Misconduct Claim Spurs Nobel Members to Step Aside in Protest". The New York Times. Reuters. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 7 April 2018.
  11. ^ Åkerman, Felicia (12 April 2018). "Sara Danius lämnar Svenska Akademien" [Sara Danius leaves the Swedeish Academy]. Dagens Industri. Dagens Industri. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  12. ^ "Förundersökning inledd kring Akademien" [Preliminary investigation started linked to the Academy]. Svenska Dagbladet. Svenska Dagbladet. Tidningarnas Telegrambyrå. 27 April 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  13. ^ Tibbling, Jan (27 April 2018). "Förundersökning inledd i ärende med koppling till Svenska Akademien" [Preliminary investigation in a case linked to the Swedish Academy started]. Ekobrottsmyndigheten. Swedish Economic Crime Authority. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  14. ^ 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. Dagens Nyheter. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  15. ^ a b Andersson, Elisabet. "Fyra personer får lämna Akademien" [Four persons have been granted permission to leave the Academy]. Svenska Dagbladet. Svenska Dagbladet. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
  16. ^ "Nobel Prize for Literature postponed amid Swedish Academy turmoil". BBC. BBC. 4 May 2018. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  17. ^ Website of the Swedish Academy describing the prize (Swedish language)) Archived 16 October 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  18. ^ Store norske leksikon (2005–2007). "Doblougprisen". Store norske leksikon.
  19. ^ Jila Mossaed och Eric M Runesson nya ledamöter i Svenska Akademien, Dagens Nyheter, October 5, 2018.
  20. ^ "Anders Olsson tar över efter Sara Danius i Svenska Akademien" (in Swedish). Retrieved 13 April 2018.
  21. ^ erik.jerden@svd.se, Erik Jerdén |. "Danius deal: Krävde att Frostenson skulle lämna". SvD.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  22. ^ Another Member Quits Body That Awards Nobel Literature Prize, AP via New York Times, November 7, 2018,
  23. ^ a b "Three members leave the Swedish Academy". Dagens Nyheter. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  24. ^ Jila Mossaed och Eric M Runesson nya ledamöter i Svenska Akademien, Dagens Nyheter, October 5, 2018.
  25. ^ SvD. "Frostenson lämnar Svenska Akademien". SvD.se (in Swedish). Retrieved 12 April 2018.
  26. ^ "Sara Danius ersättare: "Samtal med kungen ledde fram till detta"". Expressen (in Swedish). Retrieved 13 April 2018.

Other sources[edit]

  • Walshe, Maurice O'Connell (1965). "Introduction to the Scandinavian Languages", Andre Deutsch Ltd., 1st edition, p. 57

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 59°19′31″N 18°4′14″E / 59.32528°N 18.07056°E / 59.32528; 18.07056