Embroiled in a bruising controversy in the shadow of the #MeToo campaign, the Swedish Academy has postponed the 2018 award until next year, when it will name two winners.
The SwedishAcademy, which has been embroiled in a controversy over its links to a man accused of sexual assault, announced on Friday that there would be no awardee for the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature honour in 2018.
The academy has postponed the 2018 award until next year, when it will name two winners, making this the first time since World War II that the panel has decided not to bestow one of the world's most revered cultural honours, reports the New York Times.
As the academy is responsible only for the literature award, other Nobel Prizes remain unaffected.
Though the prizes should be awarded annually, they can be postponed or skipped "when a situation in a prize-awarding institution arises that is so serious that a prize decision will not be perceived as credible," the Nobel Foundation, which governs all of the prizes, said in a statement posted online on Friday morning.
"The crisis in the SwedishAcademy has adversely affected the Nobel Prize. Their decision underscores the seriousness of the situation and will help safeguard the long-term reputation of the Nobel Prize," the statement as quoted by the New York Times further read.
The announcement is in addition to the series of blows to the academy that, occurring in the glare of the #MeToo movement, have drawn worldwide attention.
It all started in November last year, when a Swedish newspaper reported that 18 women said they had been sexually assaulted or harassed by Jean-Claude Arnault, who is closely tied to the Swedish Academy and is accused of using his stature in the arts world to try to coerce women into sex. Arnault, however, has denied the allegations.
He is married to a member of the academy, Katarina Frostenson; is a close friend to other members; and is co-owner, with Ms Frostenson, of Forum, a cultural centre in Stockholm that received funding from the academy.
Some events were said to have occurred at academy-owned properties in Stockholm and Paris, and at least one woman's complaints to the academy about Arnault more than 20 years ago were rebuffed.
The crisis escalated when the academy dismissed another member, Sara Danius, as its permanent secretary, the group's chief official and the first woman to hold that post, though she remained part of the panel.
Her demotion in the academy prompted mass protests by critics who said that a woman had suffered for the misdeeds of a man, and that Danius had been punished for trying to introduce openness and accountability to a group that preferred to close ranks.
Later on, few of the academy's 18 members resigned over Frostenson's continued membership, and several more quit over the treatment accorded to Danius. That has left the group with 10 active members, which is not enough, under its rules, to elect new members.