Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Nobel for Bob Dylan!

The headlines this morning about the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature certainly got my attention, with a small gasp of surprise. Bob Dylan! Really? I must admit I feel torn about this. Of course I grew up with Bob Dylan, listened to his music for many many many hours when I was young (not so much later, except very occasionally when I was feeling nostalgic, or happened upon his music on the radio), and greatly admired (and still admire) him. Who of my generation can forget some of his greatest songs? And yes, his songs were and are poetry, and represented the concerns and emotions of our generation and beyond. But out of all the amazing novelists, poets, playwrights, memoirists, etc., in the world, is he really the best, the most deserving of this uniquely prestigious award? I understand the Swedish Academy’s rationale. The committee says they awarded Dylan the Nobel “for having created new poetic traditions within the great American song tradition,” and their representative, literary scholar Sara Danius, calls him “a great poet in the English-speaking tradition” who can be compared to Homer and Sappho. (Wow!) According to the New York Times, some say this award is for Dylan as a representative of an art form, and that it is a recognition that “the gap between high art and more commercial art forms” has narrowed. I understand and agree with most of this (not sure about the promotion of "more commercial art forms"), but there is still a part of me that can’t quite accept that there are not more deserving literary writers around the world. Am I being a fuddy-duddy? A snob? I need to think more about this…
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