The Swedish Academy (Swedish Svenska Akademien) - a royal academy based in Stockholm, an independent cultural and scientific institution whose main task is to foster the development of Swedish literature and language. The Academy consists of eighteen members elected for life.
The Academy's motto is Snille och taste (Polish: "Genius and taste"), and the institution itself is sometimes also called De Aderton (Polish: "Eighteen") in Swedish.
The Academy has awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature since 1901.
The Swedish Academy was founded on March 20, 1786 by the Swedish king Gustav III, and the idea of the institution itself and its organization were inspired by the French Academy. The king appointed its first thirteen members (including the poet Johan Henric Kellgren and Johan Gabriel Oxenstierna), who chose another five academics. According to the king's recommendations, the Academy was to include writers, scholars and "lords", that is, the nobility, but in the institution itself, complete equality was to reign between its members.
According to the statute drawn up by the king himself, the most important task of the organization was and is to work on the purity, strength and greatness (Swedish renhet, styrka och höghet) of the Swedish language. The implementation of this task was to be ensured by the publication by the Academy of a dictionary, grammar textbook and annual awards and distinctions for the exceptional quality of the use of Swedish in the art of poetry.
The Academy was guaranteed economic independence from the outset, and an important source of its finances was the privilege of publishing the state magazine Post och Inrikes Tidningar, containing foreign news and having a monopoly on publishing official announcements. From 1886, the proceeds from publishing the journal were used to cover the costs of work on dictionaries, primarily on the Dictionary of the Swedish Academy (SAOB). In 2007, the privilege of publishing Post och Inrikes Tidningar was transferred to Bolagsverket, for which the Academy began receiving annual compensation.
After the death of Gustav III in 1792, the situation of the Academy worsened and in 1795 its activity was suspended for two years. Despite this, the Academy retained its position as the supreme authority on literary and linguistic issues in Sweden. In the 1820s, the activities of the organization weakened as a result of an attack by the pioneers of new literature, and the Academy itself became a synonym of conservatism.
In 1824, the first permanent secretary of the organization, Nils von Rosenstein, died, and Frans Michael Franzén was elected in his place, who held this position until 1834, and the period of his office was a time of stagnation in the work of the Academy. In 1834, the energetic Bernhard von Beskow was elected secretary, who significantly strengthened the cultural and economic position of the Academy. After Beskow's death in 1868, it was not possible to elect a permanent secretary until 1884, when the poet Carl David af Wirsén joined the position. The period of his term in office was also a time when the Academy was supported by its king, Oscar II. In the decade that followed, Swedish literature developed in a direction that did not suit the conservative Wirsén. This made this institution less popular among the younger generation of writers, incl. August Strindberg, who was a staunch critic of the Academy.
In 1900, after some hesitation, the Academy took on the obligation to award the Nobel Prize for Literature, which changed the organization of its work, but brought it international fame and prestige.
Wirsén was replaced in 1913 by Erik Axel Karlfeldt as permanent secretary. His 18-year term in office was marked by changes and modernization within the Academy, which opened it up to the writers of the new times. The first woman elected to the Academy was Selma Lagerlöf, elected in 1914. During Karlfeldt's tenure (1912-