“I’m the first person who’ll put it to you,” Bob Dylan said in a 1978 interview, “and the last person who’ll explain it to you.”
The Swedish Academy, which awarded Mr. Dylan the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday, has put it to us, and it has no explaining to do to most readers and listeners, however much they might have been pulling for Philip Roth or Don DeLillo or Margaret Atwood.
This Nobel acknowledges what we’ve long sensed to be true: that Mr. Dylan is among the most authentic voices America has produced, a maker of images as audacious and resonant as anything in Walt Whitman or Emily Dickinson. / Dwight Garner, New York Times
Bob Dylan does not deserve the Nobel Prize in Literature.
He does deserve the many Grammys he has received, including a lifetime achievement award, which he won in 1991. He unquestionably belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, into which he was inducted in 1988 along with the Supremes, the Beatles and the Beach Boys. He is a wonderful musician, a world-class songwriter and an enormously influential figure in American culture.
But by awarding the prize to him, the Nobel committee is choosing not to award it to a writer, and that is a disappointing choice.
Yes, Mr. Dylan is a brilliant lyricist. Yes, he has written a book of prose poetry* and an autobiography. Yes, it is possible to analyze his lyrics as poetry. But Mr. Dylan’s writing is inseparable from his music. He is great because he is a great musician, and when the Nobel committee gives the literature prize to a musician, it misses the opportunity to honor a writer. / Anna North, New York Times
*) Prose poetry? Okay, kann man gelten lassen. Aus: Bob Dylan: Tarantula / Tarantel. Aus dem Amerikanischen von Carl Weissner. Zweisprachig. Frankfurt/Main: Zweitausendeins, 1976 (Neuaufl. Hannibal Verl., 1995)