English Hindi



Prelims bits

Prelims Capsule


Nobel prize in Literature – Controversy

Nobel prize in Literature – Controversy

Tag:GS3||Economy||Scientific Innovations and Discoveries

Why in news?

  • The Swedish company announced the Nobel prize in literature for this year as well as last year.
    • Olga tokarczuk(Poland) for 2018
    • Peter Handke (Austria) for 2019
  • The 2018 award has been postponed for a year on account of a scandal involving the academy’s close ties with a man convicted of rape and jailed that year.

 About the Swedish Academy:

  • The Swedish academy a 233-year-old cultural institution is responsible for awarding the Nobel prize for literature since its inception in 1921.
  • The academy is one of Sweden’s royal academics with 18 members elected for life.
  • The prizes are an appreciation of an individual ‘s contribution to literature as a whole.
  • The person does not necessarily need to have released a new work in 2018 or 2019 to become a laureate.

About Olga Tokarzuck:

  • The delayed prize went to Tokarczuk for a narrative imagination that with encyclopedic passion represents the crossing of boundaries as a form of life.
  • Tokarczuk, 57, one of Poland’s most successful authors, has found a wider English reading audience in recent years and won the man booker prize in 2018 for flights, a translation of her 2007 novel bieguuni.
  • Much of her work is marked by historical/mythical settings with realistic details and themes of conflicting cultures and perspectives.

About Peter Handke:

  • For the 2019 year, handke was awarded for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experiences.
  • He has written a novel, essay, dramatic works, and screenplays in a vast body of work spanning more than 50 years.
  • The academy described him as one of the most influential writers in Europe after the second world war.
  • The academy acknowledged that Handke has sometimes caused controversy.

Why is Handke’s choice controversial?

  • Handke now based in France is widely Benn as sympathetic of the Serbian far-right.
  • He delivered the eulogy at ex sebian president Slobodan Milosevic’s funeral in 2006 (who was charged in 2001 with Bosnian genocide)
  • Handke had also expressed sympathy for the Serbs in the 1990s Yugoslav wars.
  • Handke said -” Sometimes I would like to be a Serbian orthodox monk fighting for Kosovo”.

 Swedish academy sexual harassment scandal:

  • In November 2017 Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter published allegations from 18 women accusing French photographer Jean Claude Arnault of sexual assault.
  • After the allegations were published it caused a rift among members of the academy and exposed scheming conflict of interest , and a culture of silence that lead to the resignation of 7 out of 18.
  • Ravaged by infighting accusations of corruption and connections with serious assault allegations the Swedish academy said in May 2018 that the Nobel prize for literature was canceled for that year.
  • It was also reported that Arnault may have leaking the shortlist of authors into consideration for the prize seven times since 1996 (the shortlisting and selection of the eventual prize winner is notoriously secretive0.
  • The academy which is under the direct patronage of the Swedish king is very discreet and has been deeply shaken by scandal.
  • Literature scholar Sara Danius who was the first woman to lead the academy and was I charge at the time the scandal broke, announce that she too has been sexually assaulted by Arnault
  • Yet danius was forced to step down from the academy by Arnault and frostensen’s defenders.
  • In October 2018, Arnault was convicted of rape and sentenced to 30 months in prison.

 Change made after the scandal:

  • Nobel foundation stated that the academy had
    • Amended its regulations.
    • Elected new members
    • Appointed a new independent committee to help select the eventual prize winner.
    • Removed members under criminal investigation or subject to a conflict of interest.

 The new Academy prize:

  • It led to the first postponement of the Nobel in 70 years.
  • A group of Swedish culture figures set up a substitute award, the new academy prize
  • They chose their laureate as Maryse conde an author from Guadeloupe country.
  • This was to show that a winner could be chosen in fashion in contrast to the academy’s secret workings.