There has been a lot of comments and questions about the Nobel’s academy decision to give the Nobel Prize in Literature to singer/songwriter Bob Dylan. It was, for sure, an unprecedented decision, and one that the literary community has not digested very well.
Dylan himself took several days to answer the Nobel’s committee notification, as he said it took him time to understand what was going on. Nevertheless, Dylan opted out of the ceremony, citing previous engagements. He did, however, send a warm note, thanking the people and the committee. The note was read by Azita Raji, –American ambassador in Sweden–.
Mr. Dylan wrote: “I too am often occupied with the pursuit of my creative endeavors and dealing with all aspects of life’s mundane matters. ‘Who are the best musicians for these songs?’ ‘Am I recording in the right studio?’ ‘Is this song in the right key?’ Some things never change, even in 400 years. Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, ‘Are my songs literature?So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer.”
The Swedish Academy has had to defend its decision to select a musician for the highest literary honor. In the words of Horace Engdahl, a member of the Nobel Committee, Dylan is “a singer worthy of a place beside the Greek bards, beside Ovid, beside the Romantic visionaries, beside the kings and queens of the blues, beside the forgotten masters of brilliant standards.
“If people in the literary world groan,” Mr. Engdahl added, “one must remind them that the gods don’t write, they dance and they sing.”
The ceremony was concluded with a fantastic performance by Patti Smith, which ended up with many people in the audience in tears.