American singer-songwriter has today been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature ‘for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition’. He is the first singer-songwriter to win the award and the first American to win since Toni Morrison in 1993.
He was born on 24th May 1941 in Minnesota and began writing and performing in his teenager years and has not stopped since.
Permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sarah Danius, said later: ‘We 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 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.’
Author Salman Rushdie stated that he was delighted with Dylan’s win and said that his lyrics ‘had been an inspiration to me all my life since I first heard a Dylan album at school.’
Prof Seamus Perry, chair of the English faculty at Oxford University, compared Dylan’s talent to that of the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson, calling the songwriter ‘representative and yet wholly individual, humane, angry, funny and tender by turn; really, wholly himself, one of the greats’.
Author Joyce Carol Oates said there should be no question about Dylan’s work being considered literature, praising the academy’s ‘inspired and original choice’.
Not everyone was overjoyed by the announcement, however. Irvine Welsh, the author of Trainspotting, said that although he was a Dylan fan ‘this is an ill-conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies’.
Here is one of my favourites: