The Nobel Lecture

S. & S. Nov. 2017. 32p. ISBN 9781501189401. $16.99; ebk. ISBN 9781501189418. MUSIC
From the moment Dylan was awarded the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, controversy ensued. First, there was great surprise—and in some quarters, dismay—that he had been chosen. Next, Dylan delayed acknowledging the award for several weeks. Then he announced that he would not be able to accept the prize in person. His short acceptance speech was read for him at the ceremony. Finally, he submitted a written lecture (an obligation for all recipients), accompanied by an audio recording. The text of that lecture has now been published in a slim hardbound volume. Initially well received, Dylan's lecture quickly became the object of charges of plagiarism. After mentioning some of his early musical influences (Buddy Holly, Leadbelly, and "all the early folk artists"), he devotes most of the 23-page piece to works of literature that made an impression on him in "grammar school." "And the themes from those books worked their way into many of my songs, either knowingly or unintentionally." He focuses on three great works of literature—Moby-Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey—and here is where he gets into trouble. Apparently, the Nobel Laureate "borrowed" text and summaries of those books from SparkNotes guides. Nevertheless, Dylan brings it all back to his own creative process: "If a song moves you, that's all that's important. I don't have to know what a song means. I've written all kinds of things into my songs."
VERDICT All Dylan fans will want to have the Nobel lecture in their collection, and this fine volume will give it permanence.
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