PUBLIC FIGHTS, SEX SCANDALS, RESIGNATIONS: What’s going on with Nobel Prize?
Riven by infighting and resignations following allegations of sexual misconduct, financial malpractice and repeated leaks, the Swedish Academy has said no Nobel prize for literature will be awarded this year. For the first time since 1949, the secretive jury that hands out the world’s most prestigious literary prize will not unveil a winner this autumn, instead revealing two laureates in 2019, it announced on Friday.
Bob Dylan is, without question, a musical genius. He’s a legend, a hero, an absolute icon. But a Nobel laureate in literature?
He became the first singer-songwriter to obtain the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2016, shocking quite a few literature purists. Then Dylan didn’t even seem that interested in the recognition. He didn’t show up at the awards ceremony and simply sent a brief thank-you speech instead of the traditional Nobel lecture. He finally collected his prize in Stockholm in March 2017.
Dylan’s reluctant acknowledgement of the award and his decision to be absent at the official award ceremony in December only added fuel to the fire.Yet Dylan is just the most recent example of controversy surrounding the Nobel Prize for Literature award series.
Other individual recipients have led to outcry and insults, such as Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa, the 2010 literature laureate who was said to focus more on politics than prose
Swedish Academy members debate holding back prize for the first time since the second world war
When the Swedish Academy announced this morning that Dylan had won this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, I couldn’t help but think of a bit of writing wisdom that’s trickled down from Aristotle. The contemporary version of this little chestnut goes something like this: The ending of a story should be both surprising and inevitable.
The institution, founded by King Gustav III in 1786 to further the “purity, strength and sublimity of the Swedish language”, was shaken in November when the French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault was accused of sexual assault or harassment by 18 women. Arnault is married to Academy member Katarina Frostenson.The crisis deepened at the start of this month when three members vacated their seats in protest at a vote not to expel Frostenson, despite a report commissioned from a law firm accusing Arnault of leaking in advance the names of seven past Nobel winners.
The institution that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature is mired in a sexual and financial scandal so deep that this year’s prize may be postponed for the first time in more than seven decades.In 1943 — the last time the literature prize was postponed — it was the height of World War II and the Nazis ruled much of the European continent.
But the choice has left me feeling cold, and I suspect I’m not alone in feeling that way. In a world in which literary acclaim is scant and awards few and far between, Dylan’s recognition with the greatest global prize in literature strikes me as somewhat pointless. It’s not that I think he’s unworthy, exactly; it’s just that the opportunity cost of giving Dylan the prize is too high.
The Swedish Academy has failed to award the Nobel prize in literature only seven times since the prize was established in 1901: in 1914, 1918, 1935, 1940 and 1941-43. The award has, however, been postponed by a year six times, each time because the committee decided that none of that year’s nominations met the criteria outlined in the will of Alfred Nobel.
CREDITS: The Guardian