October 19, 2018 / 9:38 AM / 2 months ago

Swedish Academy names new member after scandal that blocked Nobel Literature prize

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - The Swedish Academy, the body that awards the Nobel Prize for Literature, picked an expert in ancient Nordic languages as a new member on Friday, a step toward recovering its standing after a sex scandal forced it to postpone this year’s prize.

Mats Malm, a professor in literature at Gothenburg University, becomes the third new member appointed this month to the 18-member body, filling all empty seats including two left vacant by members who quit over the scandal.

The Academy, founded by Sweden’s king 232 years ago to safeguard the Swedish language, has picked the Nobel prizewinner in literature since 1901. Other Swedish bodies select winners in other fields and a Norwegian committee awards the peace prize.

The awarding of this year’s literature prize was postponed in the wake of rape accusations against Swedish-French photographer Jean-Claude Arnault, who ran a cultural foundation that received Academy funds.

Arnault, who is married to one member of the Academy and has had personal and professional relationships with several others, was sentenced this month to two years in prison for rape. He has been accused of leaking names of literature prize winners, and the Academy is investigating his financial relationship with it.

He denies wrongdoing and is appealing the rape conviction.

In addition to the two members of the Academy who quit over the affair, four others, including Arnault’s wife Katarina Frostenson, have suspended their participation.

The head of the Nobel Foundation, which grants the prizes but does not pick the winners, has said the Swedish Academy could lose its role in awarding the literature prize if it does not regain its legitimacy following the scandal.

Reporting by Johan Ahlander; Editing by Peter Graff

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