The singer and songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature on Thursday for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” in the words of the Swedish Academy. With this, Bob Dylan becomes the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Since yesterday, the name of Bob Dylan was taken as a possible recipient of Nobel Prize in Literature. Of course, very few actually believed it could be true as he was a songwriter. Being a songwriter, the poetic expressions of Bob Dylan needed the support of other artists, like good singer, good music composer and good musicians for the best effect. However, the Swedish Academy has been more flexible in the last few years and playwrights and non-fiction writers are also awarded the Nobel Prize.
He is the first American to win since the novelist Toni Morrison, in 1993. The announcement, in Stockholm, came as something of a surprise.
Mr. Dylan was born on May 24, 1941, in Duluth, Minn., and grew up in Hibbing. He played in bands as a teenager, influenced by the folk musician Woody Guthrie, the authors of the Beat Generation and modernist poets.
He moved to New York in 1961 and began to perform in clubs and cafes in Greenwich Village. The following year, he signed a contract with the record producer John Hammond for his debut album, “Bob Dylan” (1962). His many other albums, which the Swedish Academy described as having “a tremendous impact on popular music,” include “Bringing It All Back Home” and “Highway 61 Revisited” (1965), “Blonde On Blonde” (1966) and “Blood on the Tracks” (1975), “Oh Mercy” (1989), “Time Out Of Mind” (1997) and “Modern Times” (2006).
“Dylan has recorded a large number of albums revolving around topics like the social conditions of man, religion, politics and love,” the Swedish Academy said in a biographical note accompanying the announcement. “The lyrics have continuously been published in new editions, under the title ‘Lyrics.’ As an artist, he is strikingly versatile; he has been active as painter, actor and scriptwriter.”
The academy added: “Since the late 1980s, Bob Dylan has toured persistently, an undertaking called the ‘Never-Ending Tour.’ Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound, and he is the object of a steady stream of secondary literature.”
In the weeks before the announcement, speculation about potential winners swirled in the literary world and even in betting markets. Some familiar names were bandied about, including the American novelist Don DeLillo, the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami, the Kenyan playwright Ngugi wa Thiong’o, and the Syrian poet known as Adonis. Very few observers, including bookmakers, had given Mr. Dylan much of a shot.
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