Bob Dylan Wins 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature
The 75-year-old rock legend, Bob Dylan, has won the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.
Dylan received the prize “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
Dylan was born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941 and started his musical career in 1959, playing in coffee houses in Minnesota, U.S.
Much of his best-known work dates from the 1960s when he became an informal historian of America’s troubles.
Songs like Blowin’ in the Wind and The Times They are A-Changin’ became anthems of the
anti-war and civil rights movements.
His move away from traditional folk songwriting, paired with a controversial decision to “go electric” proved equally influential.
Dylan is the first Nobel Laureate since George Bernhard Shaw to have been awarded both a Nobel Prize and an Oscar.
For more than six decades he has remained a mythical force in music, his gravelly voice and poetic lyrics musing over war, heartbreak, betrayal, death and moral faithlessness in songs that brought beauty to life’s greatest tragedies.
But Bob Dylan’s place as one of the world’s greatest artistic figures was elevated further on Thursday when he was named the surprise winner of the Nobel prize in literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
After the announcement, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, Sara Danius, said it had “not been a difficult decision” and she hoped the academy would not be criticised for its choice.
“We hoped the news would be received with joy, but you never know,” she said, comparing the songs of the American songwriter to the works of Homer and Sappho.
“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 great 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.”
Though Dylan is considered by many to be a musician, not a writer, Danius said the artistic reach of his lyrics and poetry could not be put in a single box. “I came to realise that we still read Homer and Sappho from ancient Greece, and they were writing 2,500 years ago,” she said. “They were meant to be performed, often together with instruments, but they have survived, and survived incredibly well, on the book page. We enjoy [their] poetry, and I think Bob Dylan deserves to be read as a poet.”
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