Candidate in philosophy, University Stockholm, 1970. Doctor of Philosophy, University Stockholm, 1987.
He was the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, id est (that is) its spokesman, from 1999 to June 2009, when he was succeeded by Swedish author and historian Peter Englund. He is adjunct professor of Scandinavian literature at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. He speaks Swedish, English, German, French and Russian fluently.
As such, he had the annual task of announcing the recipient of the Nobel prize in literature to the public.
On 20 December 2008 it was announced that after ten years Engdahl would step down as the Academy"s permanent secretary on 1 June 2009. Together they have three sons.
His comments generated controversy across the Atlantic, with the head of the United States. National Book Foundation offering to send him a reading list. Engdahl was reported "very surprised" that the American reaction was "so violent".
He did not think that what he said was "that derogatory or sensational" and conceded his comments may have been "perhaps a bit too generalizing".
He earned his Bachelor of Arts in 1970 at Stockholm University. He earned his doctoral degree (fil dr) in 1987, with a study on Swedish romanticism, but had meanwhile been active as a literary critic, translator and journal editor, and was one of the introducers of the continental tradition of literary scholarship in Sweden.
On 16 October 1997, Engdahl became a member of the Swedish Academy, elected to seat number 17 vacated by the death of Johannes Edfelt. On 1 June 1999, he succeeded Sture Allén as the Academy"s permanent secretary, id est (that is) its executive member and spokesperson.