Swedish Academy

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Swedish Academy
Swedish Academy.svg
Motto Snille och Smak
(Talent and taste)
Formation 20 March 1786
Headquarters Stockholm, Sweden
18 members
Permanent Secretary
Sara Danius
Website http://www.svenskaakademien.se

The Swedish Academy (Swedish: Svenska Akademien), founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, is one of the Royal Academies of Sweden. It is known for making 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.

It is not possible for members of the Academy to resign; membership is for life, although the Academy can 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 November 25, 2017, Lotta Lotass said in an interview that she has not participated in the meetings of the Academy for more that two years and does not consider herself a member any more.[6]

Awards and prizes

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.[7][8]

The Big Prize

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

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

The current permanent secretary of the Academy is Sara Danius, who was preceded by Peter Englund. The current members of the Swedish Academy listed by seat number:

Seat Member Born Age Elected Notes
1. Lotta Lotass 1964 53 2009 Inactive[9]
2. Bo Ralph 1945 72 1999
3. Sture Allén 1928 89 1980 Permanent secretary 1986–1999
4. Anders Olsson 1949 68 2008
5. Göran Malmqvist 1924 93 1985
6. Tomas Riad 1959 58 2011
7. Sara Danius 1962 55 2013 Permanent secretary 2015-
8. Jesper Svenbro 1944 73 2006
9. Jayne Svenungsson 1973 44 2017
10. Peter Englund 1957 60 2002 Permanent secretary 2009–2015
11. Klas Östergren 1955 62 2014
12. Per Wästberg 1933 84 1997
13. Sara Stridsberg 1972 45 2016
14. Kristina Lugn 1948 69 2006
15. Kerstin Ekman 1933 84 1978 Inactive
16. Kjell Espmark 1930 87 1981
17. Horace Engdahl 1948 69 1997 Permanent secretary 1999–2009
18. Katarina Frostenson 1953 64 1992

Permanent secretaries

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 temporare
5. 15. Ludvig Manderström 1806 1869–1872
6. 12. Carl Gustaf Strandberg 1825 1872–1874 pro temporare
7. 9. Henning Hamilton 1814 1874–1881
8. 11. Bror Emil Hildebrand 1806 1881–1883 pro temporare
9. 8. Carl David af Wirsén 1842 1883–1912 pro temporare in 1883–84
10. 6. Hans Hildebrand 1842 1912 pro temporare
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–

See also


  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 (2005-10-12). "Nobel winner's work is violent porn, says juror". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-08-24. 
  6. ^ Därför lämnade Lotta Lotass Svenska Akademien, November 25, 2017.
  7. ^ Website of the Swedish Academy describing the prize (Swedish language))
  8. ^ Store norske leksikon (2005–2007). "Doblougprisen". Store norske leksikon. 
  9. ^ Lotta Lotass lämnade Svenska Akademien – för två år sedan, Dagens Nyheter, November 25, 2017.

Other sources

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

External links

  • Official website (in Swedish)
  • Official website (in English)
  • SAOL on the web – Free
  • SAOB on the web – Free

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

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