The Swedish Academy on Friday decided not to award the Nobel Prize in Literature this year following a controversy over allegations of sexual misconduct and leaks of names of some winners. Six of the institution’s 18 members have resigned in recent months.
The last time the Academy cancelled the Nobel Prize in Literature was during World War II.
The decision to cancel the prize shows the seriousness of the crisis, which has adversely affected the annual prize, the Nobel Foundation said in a release. The institution will announce two winners in 2019.
“In principle, the Nobel Prize shall be awarded every year, but decisions on Nobel Prizes have been postponed on a number of occasions during the history of the prizes,” the Nobel Foundation said. “One of the circumstances that may justify an exception is when a situation in a prize-awarding institution arises that is so serious that a prize decision will not be perceived as credible.”
The decision will help “safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize”, the foundation, which funds the prizes, said, urging the Swedish Academy to “put all its efforts into the task of restoring its credibility”.
Eighteen women had accused Jean-Claude Arnault, the husband of one of the members of the Academy, of harassment and physical abuse in 2017. He has denied the allegations.