Friday, 14 October 2016

The Cat is amongst the Pigeons.

Oh dear.   "For having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."   For this Bob Dylan has been announced as the latest recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I am torn two ways, as I have said on Tom Stephenson's post today (and interestingly, only two of us put a single word in for the man).

I looked up the ten UK recipients.   You may be interested in the list:

Rudyard Kipling.
WB Yeats.
John Galsworthy.
TS Eliot.
Bertrand Russell.
William Golding.
Seamus Heaney.
Sir VS Naipaul.
Harold Pinter.
Doris Lessing.

Does Bob Dylan sit well alongside these?   I wonder what he himself would say.

But I do know that as a great fan in my youth, I still remember many of his lyrics - and use quite a lot of them in my everyday chat (yesterday's paper with yesterday's news springs to mind).

I  know that many of the previous recipients rate highly in my reading list - TS Eliot I absolutely love, the same goes for Seamus Heaney.

So - is it an effort to bring the prize down to something which resonates with the 'common man'?   Of does it make a travesty of the whole thing?   Or is the answer somewhere in between?

I don't know, but I would love to know what you think.  I realise Dylan is not from the UK but I have quoted 'our' winners to make comparison easier.   Also, reading through the list of winners on Wikipedia, it is a long time since the US had a winner.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

Bod Dylan is a genius. His words have resonated with millions. I think it is entirely right and proper that he is this year's Nobel winner and I am flabbergasted that anyone could seriously question his nomination. The impact Dylan's use of English has had upon people has far outweighed the influence of a lot of previous winners. I applaud the Nobel committee for having the guts, the imagination and the open-mindedness to honour Dylan. His recognition is richly deserved.

Wilma said...

I agree with YP, but he said it better than I could have.

Wilma said...

I went to Tom's blog to support your comment, Pat.

donna baker said...

Pat, I don't think I'm qualified to say one way or the other. But, here is a small fact you may find interesting. Bob Dylan just gave all his music and writings etc. to a museum in Tulsa. Or, I should say, they were sold to the Kaiser Foundation in Tulsa for display in the museum.

justjill said...

I think the decision is justified.. His use of the English Language ranks with the highest. Ok I am an ageing hippie.

Terry and Linda said...

He 'forsure' created new ways of poetry and music!
I guess it is what it is.


Tom Stephenson said...

Well you know what I think, Weave. I just feel thet the board who decides this stuff are of the generation of baby-boomers who do not really understand what it takes to deserve this sort of accolade, but are rather paying some sort of tribute to the formation of their own appreciation of literature through the dubious medium of popular music and their early exposure to it. There is a lot to be said for a classical education - it guards against the wrong poeple being placed in situations of authority which they are entirely unsuited and unqualified to be in. These times are degraded and diminished by them.

Terra said...

Yorkshire Pudding wrote very well. I applaud the prize committee for thinking outside of the box and awarding the Nobel Prize to Bob Dylan. He is the singer/songwriter/poet I most admire. As Dylan said "the times they are a changing." I imagine in years long past some people were shocked by the winners of the time and how "newfangled" their writing was.

Mac n' Janet said...

While I've always been a fan, though less of one after seeing him in person, I don't think his work is worthy of a Nobel, but then I disagreed with them for giving one to President Obama simply for being elected President. I guess Hillary will get one next.

Frances said...

Pat, having read lists of Nobel winners during my adult lifetime, I've always thought that the choices showed a certain challenge to the expected.

Perhaps it amused the jury to choose Bob Dylan. It did amuse me. I haven't a clue as to what he's been writing recently, but definitely carry many of his early phrases in my mind and, like you, feel free to toss them about in my own conversations.

I was so much older then. I'm younger than that now. And so on.

The only time I ever saw him perform was at the Concert for Bangladesh, organized by George Harrison way back when. It was the first Dylan performance after his post-motorcycle-accident retreat.

There is a wonderful article about Leonard Cohen in the current issue of The New Yorker magazine, written by the magazine's editor. Dylan is mentioned several time, as are other artists. It is possible to access it online at


Rachel Phillips said...

I liked him and he was popular to a generation. However I do not consider he is up there with your list. He admitted he lifted many of his lyrics from newspapers of the day after the encouragement to do so by his manager in the 1960s/70s.

A Heron's View said...

You are as bad as the BBC for claiming foreign born poets as being UK recipients -
at least three of those you have listed were born in countries outside of the UK.

angryparsnip said...

I don't know. I was never a big fan but his songs but they have stayed with me over all these years.
Where ever he got his lyrics from what does it matter ? He put them together and made music.
I think many people know his lyrics better than many of the poets that are listed. Haiku, poems, free verse or lyrics they all impart a feelings with words.
I wonder is he was from Wales, England or Scotland would that make it easier for many to be OK with it. Personally didn't understand several of the Nobel winners but goodness I didn't throw a hissy fit like some people.
Tell you the truth I am more upset over bookstores being closed. If we are lucky people are reading on a ipad but who really knows. That is what really upsets me. The lost of our adults, young people and children to not read, never to know the joy of opening a book, smelling the ink and paper and enjoy the feel of turning a page and using your imagination.
That makes me upset.

cheers, parsnip

angryparsnip said...

Forgot. . . Mac and Janet, Great comment.
If billary gets one next year I will throw a hissy fit.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

As one from the generation of baby boomers I think it a bit unfair for a whole generation to be called uneducated and unable to understand what it takes to deserve a Nobel Prize. I applaud those who work hard on these committees - one might want to research just how the process works - one might be quite surprised at the well educated people who spend time making these decisions. They don't throw names in a hat and grab one out. One way of looking at language is in song - and song distills things down to the very essence - not always easily done.

Cro Magnon said...

I still listen to Dylan, his album 'Modern Times' is a favourite to accompany our early evening drinks. Some of his lyrics are certainly up there with several on your list. His often poor 'tunes' detract from the poetic side, but to read them is another thing.

Derek Faulkner said...

As a life-long Dylan fan who has explored his work thoroughly from the beginning to the current day,I think that the award is fully justified. I wonder how many of the people who are slagging him off are not looking past his simple and ordinary stuff like Blowing in the Wind and Times are A'changing.
Try looking at stuff like Chimes of Freedom, Sad-eyed Lady of the Lowlands, Every Grain of Sand and you'll get a better idea of the complexity and genius of his lyric writing.

Librarian said...

The comments here are very interesting, but I don't feel qualified to contribute much to it. As I mentioned on Monica's blog yesterday, Bob Dylan never featured much in my musical universe, and therefore I am not familiar with his highly-praised lyrics.
While I appreciate it when a committee takes an unexpected, out-of-the-box type decision, I also think that criteria for what is defined as literature should be clear enough to discern between song lyrics and literature that was written as such.

thelma said...

"is it an effort to bring the prize down to something which resonates with the 'common man'? Of does it make a travesty of the whole thing? Or is the answer somewhere in between?"

Perhaps it is called moving on and encompassing a generation of different thought. I find modern art difficult to get on with but then I think of Klandinsky, Picasso and become quiet ;) Our thinking must ALWAYS be challenged, Dylan expressed the mood of the time within the framework of his music, so who were these 'baby boomers', a fractious term used today to excuse the mistakes of today? Dylan reflected his time, same as the 'beat generation' and same as the Beatles. Dylan, wrong choice maybe, perhaps it hurts those of a more conventional mind...............

Penhill said...

TS Elliot was born in St Louis Missouri although he later became a British citizen.Yeats was born in Dublin.I think its a travesty that Bob Dylan has won the Nobel prize for literature, it devalues the prize.

Derek Faulkner said...

I particularly like Thelma's comments, she makes good sense and her mention of art is really interesting because art is probably one form that divides us easily. When I see awful paintings that in my view a kid of six could of painted, being sold for multi-millions I'm am just as gob-smacked as those who feel the same about Dylan winning the Nobel Prize. Times and tastes change all the time and it would be ridiculous to be permanently stuck with seeing true literature as only that produced a hundred years or so ago. If you were to read the book "Bob Dylan 1962-2001 Lyrics" where every song he has written is re-produced, you would find some amazing poetry and indeed, literature.

Elizabeth said...

Somewhat bemused by the whole thing but rather pleased!
Dylan certainly enjoys language and its power to alter mood and make us think.
He was the soundtrack to my youth!
So I applaud the Nobel committee for choosing to recognize his power with words.
Like Frances I recommend David Remnick's thought article in The New Yorker about Leonard Cohen.
Warmest greetings from autumnal New York.

The Weaver of Grass said...

What a wonderful debate you have all made of the question. How I wish we could all sit around and discuss it over a cup of tea. Heron makes a good point, endorsed by Penhill. I expected it to be picked up. In the list I read on line both of these had United Kingdom against their names (albeit an adopted country).
I understand from today's Times that when the name was read out a giant cheer went up.
Thanks so much for taking part.

Wilma said...

Regarding Tom's comment - that is a load of elitist BS. Having a classical education is not license to impose authority.

Heather said...

I can't really comment on this as I am not familiar with Bob Dylan's work. He is certainly in illustrious company and any one of those on your list would have been a worthy winner.

Cathy aka Luvswool said...

The blowing in the wind.