by Meghan Malas
Bob Dylan, a 75 year old musical and cultural influencer for more than five decades, has been awarded the Nobel Prize recognizing his excellence in literature on a global scale. Not only has he received the highest award in the field of literature, he also is the first musician to claim this title.
For the past fifty years, Dylan has sold millions of records and has been praised for his originality, sound, and revolutionary point of view on rock music and its role in society. However, despite his legendary feats in music, many regard Dylan as the most radical pick ever of the Swedish Academy, which is the establishment which determines the recipients of the Nobel Prizes since it’s instatement in 1901. Many famous authors and writers have voiced their enthusiasm of the Bob Dylan sharing a prize with its other recipients, like T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, and Toni Morrison. Salman Rushdie, Booker Prize Winner and renowned British-Indian writer, called Bob Dylan “a great choice” and complimented him on his defining of American tradition and the role his writing played in forming that tradition.
Since the pick is controversial, authors and novelists criticized the decision, mostly via Twitter. Most of the comments do not attack Bob Dylan himself, but rather if his receiving of a literature award redefines, or undermines, what literature is itself. Many musicians came out in support of Bob Dylan’s achievement, feeling that his winning of the Nobel could change what artists could accomplish in the future.
Bob Dylan’s poetry, music, and career do differ from many of the artists we recognize today. He created the protest, political folk songs that became popularized in the 1960s. He music is studied by literary experts, and his writings have been admired by many leaders, politicians, and revolutionaries for decades. President Obama even commented on Bob Dylan, saying, “There is not a bigger giant in the history of American music. All these years later, …he’s still searching for that little bit of truth. And I have to say, that I am a really big fan.” Dylan himself claims to have used classic poets and artists to inspire his own songs and poetry, and has proved himself as an enthusiast of classical literature and poetry.