As you probably already know, Bob Dylan's life's work is as a writer of music, not as a writer of literature. He's been influential in popular music for more than five decades, and is known most for his songs in the 1960s like "Blowin' in the Wind" and "The Times They Are a-Changin'." Those songs became anthems for the American civil rights and anti-war movements.
According to the press release, the prize was awarded to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." Essentially, the committee is arguing that his lyrics constitute a body of literature. It's the first time a musician has won the prize.
Whether music can be considered great literature, and whether Dylan deserves a Nobel Prize for his work, has become a topic of hot debate since the announcement. There have been arguments for and against the prize, and I personally don't want to weigh into it. I'm not a fan of Dylan specifically or pop music in general, so I don't feel qualified to comment on it. I also don't care for most writing held up as "literature," but that's just my opinion. But I'm sure the Nobel Prize committee made this choice as a statement to argue that music can be defined as literature.
What I've found most interesting is Dylan's response to the announcement, which is nothing. He hasn't commented on it publicly, and even removed mention of it from his website. So it seems like Dylan might not be too crazy about the prize either. One Nobel academy member publicly called him "impolite" and "arrogant" for the lack of a response, but what did they expect? He's been critical of all the awards he's gotten in his career. He's a loner, man. A rebel! Or he's just crazy. If they wanted gushing thanks and excitement, they should have awarded it to Taylor Swift.
What do you think? Should Dylan have gotten a Nobel prize? Is music literature?
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Image Source: By Alberto Cabello from Vitoria Gasteiz - Bob Dylan, CC BY 2.0, Link