Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize for Lit. Well, why not?
On the bright side, at least there won’t be lots of people going around, as is usually the case with Nobel lit announcements, asking, “Bob who… ?”
And given the “unevenness,” as we politely say, of so many previous Swedish Academy picks, the fact that they’re doing something rather odd this year is not the end of the world.
I agree that the choice is a sort of “category mistake,” to use a philosophy term. But the long argument about lyrics that are more or less inseparable from music is almost always a tendentious and not particularly interesting discussion. Maybe next year they’ll expand the horizon again to include screenwriters and rappers, and the prize will go jointly to Woody Allen and Eminem.
My initial response was an “Oh, no,” but as the day wore on, I began thinking, “Well, maybe not such a big deal.” Since the Nobel lit prize (like most lit prizes) mainly matters to literary and readerly types… (glug, glug) … and anyway Dylan is/was a perfectly great artist with a real oeuvre. So, I turned on YouTube and listened to a few Dylan songs (“I was so much older then/I’m younger than that now”) with pleasure… A lot easier to take than listening to Donald Trump for 45 minutes (as I made the mistake of doing the other day).