The Swedish Academy announced on October 13, that singer-songwriter Bob Dylan will be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature at the upcoming ceremony on Dec. 10. Dylan remained silent on the matter for two weeks before speaking out publicly, saying, “Speechless. I appreciate the honor so much.”
Dylan kept his nomination a secret at the time of its reveal because he has just opened a major art exhibit in London featuring a collection of his drawings, watercolors, acrylics and ironworks. Dylan said he will attend if his schedule allows for it.
Although Dylan had the right to keep the news of his award on the down low, a prominent member of the Academy later called him out for being, “impolite and arrogant” by not responding to the announcement. Not all Academy members took offense to Dylan’s hesitance though; while on a call with another Academy member, Dylan said, “I appreciate the honor so much… The news about the Nobel prize left me speechless.”
There is a ton of excitement surrounding this award because Dylan is the first ever songwriter to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, but some people do not understand why Dylan won. The Academy released a statement that said Dylan was awarded this, “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Which is true. Bob Dylan has been writing songs, poetry, making music and other forms of art for over five decades.
While he is a talented musician and artist, Dylan’s award is not the same as if it were given to a writer in the sense that songwriting is on a different level as writing poetry, short stories or compelling novels. Songwriting is the skill of briefly telling an elaborate story and merging that with music to create a harmonious, lyrical piece. A main key to the depth of Dylan’s writing is their epic (in the sense of the English term). He humbly classified his songs “Blind Willie,” “The Ballad of Hollis Brown,” “Joey,” “A Hard Rain,” and “Hurricane” as “Homeric in value.”
“There’s a certain intensity in writing a song,” he said, “you have to keep in mind why you are writing it and for who and what for.”
After being noted as “The brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition,” and a “Great choice” by past Prize winners, Dylan was stilled shocked:
“[It’s] amazing, incredible. Whoever dreams about something like that?”
With this award and the title of “Nobel Prize Winner” following his name for years to come, Dylan now and forever has redefined the boundaries of literature in every sense of the word.