Bob Dylan Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature
For over six decades Dylan has remained a mythical force in music, his deep voice and poetic lyrics reflecting on war, heartbreak, betrayal, death in songs have given beauty to life's greatest catastrophes.
The 75-year-old Dylan, who won the prize for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” is the first musician to win the award. In choosing a renowned musician for the literary world's highest honour, the Swedish Academy, gave a new meaning to literature, while sparking a debate about whether song lyrics have the same artistic value as poetry.
Awarding the 8 million Swedish crown ($928,000) prize, the Swedish Academy said: “Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound.”
After the announcement, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, said it had “not been a difficult decision” and she hoped the academy would not be criticised for its choice.
“We hoped the news would be received with joy, but you never know,” she said, comparing the songs of the American songwriter to the works of Homer and Sappho.
“We’re really giving it to Bob Dylan as a great poet – that’s the reason we awarded him the prize. He’s a great poet in the great English tradition, stretching from Milton and Blake onwards. And he’s a very interesting traditionalist, in a highly original way. Not just the written tradition, but also the oral one; not just high literature, but also low literature.”
While some renowned writers celebrated Dylan's literary achievements such as Stephen King, Carol Oates and Joyce Carol, the decision angered some writers who complained that by honouring the world’s greatest artistic figures the Swedish Academy missed an opportunity to bring attention to lesser-known artists.
“I’m a Dylan fan, but this is an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies,” wrote Scottish novelist Irvine Welsh, best known for his 1993 novel “Trainspotting,” wrote on Twitter.
Jodi Picoult, a best-selling novelist, snarkily asked, “I’m happy for Bob Dylan, #ButDoesThisMeanICanWinAGrammy?”
Dylan remained silent on Thursday, making no comment on Thursday, instead was in Las Vegas for a performance at a theatre there.
Dylan is the first American to win the award since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993.