The Literature Nobel Prize was awarded on Thursday and for the first time it went to someone who isn’t a writer. The Swedish Academy wanted to honor and reward someone who has created lyrical art, through his work. Even though the recipient does not do his writing it the field of fiction.
The Nobel Prize went to American singer and songwriter Bob Dylan. The award acknowledges Bob Dylan’s creative efforts and rewards the lyrics of his songs for their poetic beauty. An iconic figure of American music history, Bob Dylan is now a Nobel Prize laureate as well.
An Unconventional Choice for the Literature Nobel Prize
The Swedish Academy said of Bob Dylan’s work that it “created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”. It is a groundbreaking choice for the Academy since Bob Dylan’s main career has been as a musician. The Nobel Prize committee stepped outside of the box in for the first time choosing a laureate who isn’t a writer.
Bob Dylan’s win is also a win for the United States. The last time America won the Literature Nobel Prize was in 1993. The laureate was writer Toni Morrison, the author of “Song of Solomon” and “Beloved”.
There were rumors that Bob Dylan was on the list to win his award. But his name was in such good company, that few thought he would actually win. Other writers with significant notoriety were on the list like Haruki Murakami, the author of “Norwegian Wood” and “1Q84”. Another writer on the short list for the award was Ngugi wa Thiong’o, the author of “The River Between” and “Petals of Blood”.
But the singer and songwriter was the choice of the Nobel Prize committee ahead of other writers. After the announcement, many wanted to congratulate Bob Dylan publicly and add their own tribute to a long list of praise. British writer Salman Rushdie congratulated the Nobel Prize committee on a “great choice”. He said of Dylan that he inherited “the bardic tradition”, using the word “brilliant” to describe the artist.
Nobel Prize Committee Chooses a Modern Poet
Sara Danius is the permanent secretary for the Swedish Academy. She is the one who made the announcement regarding Bob Dylan’s win in Stockholm. Later, in an interview, she talked about why Bob Dylan deserved to win. Sara Danius said that Bob Dylan embodies a tradition. She said that she admired how Bob Dylan has worked in that tradition for 54 years. The artist has reinvented himself throughout his career, often creating a brand new identity for himself.
“Bob Dylan writes poetry for the ear. But it’s perfectly fine to read his works as poetry.”
Said Sara Danius during an interview.
The secretary of the Swedish Academy drew parallels between Bob Dylan’s work and the poets of Ancient Greece. She had praise for “his brilliant way of rhyming and his pictorial thinking”. Danius said that ancient Greek poets like Homer also wrote poetic texts that were supposed to be performed. Poetry that was supposed to be read out loud and listened to. She feels that in the same way, Bob Dylan’s work can be read.
“He is a great poet in the grand English tradition.”
Added Sara Danius.
Image source: Wikipedia