quick round-up of 5 of today’s many stories re: Dylan’s Nobel Prize


To read the articles these thoughts are from, click on the magazine titles at the end of the quotes.

Handwringing about “what is literature?” seems inevitable after the announcement that a rock star has taken the global writing community’s biggest award. But no great existential crisis is needed. The Nobel Committee could have decided that with this prize it wanted to expand the definition of “literature” to include recorded music, a hugely influential and relatively young art form that doesn’t have an award of Nobel-like prestige dedicated to it. But it seems to have declined to do so. Dylan is winning 8 million kronor ($932,786) for his words as they are written and not sung—affording him a wild degree of praise for something that is not the main achievement of his career. –The Atlantic 

Sara Danius, a professor of literature at Stockholm University and the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, justified this year’s choice by comparing him to Homer and Sappho: ancient Greek poets whose verses were “meant to be performed, often together with instruments”. –Economist 

Is Bob Dylan a poet? No, I don’t think so. But is his work literature? Yes, absolutely, and literature is what the Nobel Prize is for. His body of work adds up to some of the central literature of our time. And that must include the music that accompanied his lyrics, since lyrics by themselves are not poetry. –The New Republic

Joyce Carol Oates, who is often mentioned as a Nobel contender, called the committee’s choice “inspired,”  but suggested that the surviving Beatles might be more deserving. “Arguably, their music is as significant, or more significant, than Bob Dylan’s work,” she said in an email.  –Wall Street Journal

Yesterday morning (Oct. 13), American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel prize in literature, and a day later the Swedish Academy has yet to speak to the musician. –Quartz 

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