From our Stockholm correspondent, Morris Phillips, a pretty obvious pseudonym for a chain-smoking friend of ours (pictured above):
By now you've heard the cover story. A bunch of women were sexually harassed, assaulted, or disrespected by a French guy married to a Swedish poet who is a member of the Swedish Academy, and the French guy, an arts promoter whatever that is, went to prison when he was convicted of raping a woman in 2011.
All of this is true, but the real reason behind the decision to award no prize this year is more complicated and Scandinavian.
The Academy, in a fit of melancholy disguising itself as boredom, had dug itself into a trench. With Bob Dylan in 2016 and Kazuo Ishiguro last year, the odds against an English-speaking author were like the odds against tomorrow from a prisoner facing the firing squad today. Besides: Roth was dead, Updike was dead, and long gone were such nobly neglected authors as Auden, Borges, Forster, Frost, Graham Greene, Nabokov, Flannery O'Connor, and Gertrude Stein.
Turning to France, Stella Bergen said, "What about Patrick Modiano?" This was considered an enlightened solution until Greta Ohlsson reminded everyone that the Academy had already awarded Modiano the Nobel a few years ago.
The committee's search for an age-appropriate author of serious mediocrity and high moral aims had turned up the Platonic ideal of an author sympathetic to #Me-Too and staunchly opposed to the primitive masculine hegemony that characterizes ISIS. But while everyone loved the idea, the search was compromised by [REDACTED] and there was no concealing the fact that one of the academy members tied up with the accused rapist, though not literally, had found out the finalists' names and was making a killing in the gambling halls of Stockholm and, via proxy, at Ladbroke's of London.
Also, there was a nightclub called Forum, and don't even ask me what they were doing there, but funds from Swedish Academy members propped up the place. In one word: corruption.
Being a member of the Swedish Academy is a lifetime appointment, so resignation by the two who were implicated in the mess was not an option. Furthermore no one likes lifetime appointments anymore. Just consider the Supreme Court and the Queen of England.
Alicia Huberman and Joan of Arc advanced the idea that awarding no prize would make a statement more powerful for what it did not say, and Dr. Constance Peterson supplied the rationale, likening the decision to the interpretation of a dream by John Ballantyne when he thinks he is Dr. Edwardes and can't remember whom he killed, when, or how he has successfully assumed the identity of the murdered man, who looks nothing like him.
It was this motion that carried the day. A quote from Strindberg was considered for the press release but rejected as needlessly gloomy and insensitive to the tenor and alto of the time. -- M. P.