Bob Dylan Winning the Nobel Prize in Literature is a Travesty


I have loved the music and words of Bob Dylan since the early 1960s. But for him to win the Nobel Prize for Literature is truly a travesty. According to the Swedish Academy’s permanent secretary, Sara Danius, Dylan “is a great poet in the English-speaking tradition.” She goes on to draw parallels between his work and that of the ancient Greek poets by stating “if you look back, far back, 2,500 years or so, you discover Homer and Sappho and they wrote poetic texts that were meant to be performed, often with instruments—and it’s the same way with Bob Dylan.”

I know that the Swedish Academy is trying to be groundbreaking in stretching its definition of literature to include one of the great folk/rock musical lyricists of our time. Are we now to assume that Paul McCartney and Sting may be recipients of the Nobel Prize for Literature in the future? I find the pick of Dylan this year as an insult to the world wide literary community.


One thought on “Bob Dylan Winning the Nobel Prize in Literature is a Travesty

  1. I love Dylan’s work, too, Richard, but I was mystified by the decision to award him the prize. I wonder if the decision had something to do with the thematic content of much of his work, related to the mission of the prize, rather than the function of the work, as literature, itself. Who can say? But if musical lyrics are to be regarded alongside literary bodies of novels or poetry, then perhaps the committee needs to think seriously about adding a new category to the prizes, to recognize music with literary content, as it is nearly impossible to think of Dylan’s lyrics without thinking of the music for which they were written. As with any superbly written song, the two are so tightly integrated that one immediately evokes the other.

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