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Should Bob Dylan Have Won the Nobel Prize For Literature?

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Of course, the awarding of the Nobel Prize is not done via a democratic process but by the Swedish Academy in Stockholm and the odds, and the whole notion of “a Nobel for Dylan,” are indicative of popular sentiments that may have absolutely nothing to do with whatever criteria are used to award the prize. In recent years, Dylan’s work has been analyzed as poetry and its philosophical qualities remarked upon; Cambridge University has published a companion to his work. The Nobel is to be awarded to “the person who … produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction,” in the words of Alfred Nobel, who endowed the prize: Sounds very good, but indeed vague. Perhaps the question to ask is rather, can a Nobel Prize for literature be awarded to someone whose literary oeuvre is popular song lyrics? Certainly it’s more likely that people have heard a Bob Dylan song than have read one of Tranströmer’s poems.

On the other hand, maybe it takes something like a prestigious prize for people to hear about a poet associated with the “beauty of stillness.”

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Photo of Dylan performing in Stockholm via Wikimedia Commons

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159 comments

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2:00AM PDT on Apr 30, 2012

Should Bob Dylan Have Won the Nobel Prize For Literature? YES!!!!!

10:03PM PDT on Apr 27, 2012

Dylan's work is awesome!
However, a lesser and even silly Dylan lyric but apropos to this debate, "I'm a poet, I know it. Hope I don't blow it."

9:48AM PDT on Oct 19, 2011

YES!

7:08AM PDT on Oct 13, 2011

Song lyrics are literature. Some of Bob Dylan's lyrics are poetry. Bottom line: BOB DYLAN WON A NOBEL PRIZE FOR LITERATURE. Marilyn - I'd like to see your spreadsheet regerding Dylan's stone(d) followers. Brian - LOL!

6:43PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

NO !

5:55PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

I think it's your command of the English language that is the joke.

5:42PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

What does that mean, James c..'there a joke'? Where??

2:57PM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Ever since Obama was given one there a joke so its kind of an insult to win one now

5:25AM PDT on Oct 10, 2011

Thanks for the article.

6:55PM PDT on Oct 9, 2011

I never liked D. much but still he did sing poetry, even if I didn't care for it.

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