Some­thing is hap­pen­ing: Bob Dy­lan wins No­bel in lit­er­a­ture

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Hil­lel Italie and Karl Rit­ter

Bob Dy­lan, No­bel lau­re­ate. In the book world’s equiv­a­lent of a Supreme Court rul­ing, the No­bel judges de­clared Thurs­day that Dy­lan is not just a rock star but a poet of the very high­est or­der.

Dy­lan, 75, be­comes the first mu­si­cian in the 115year his­tory of the No­bel to win the prize in lit­er­a­ture. He was hon­ored for “hav­ing cre­ated new po­etic ex­pres­sions within the great Amer­i­can song tra­di­tion.”

It is the ul­ti­mate as­cen­sion for the man who set off a last­ing de­bate over whether lyrics, es­pe­cially rock lyrics, can be re­garded as art. Dy­lan, who gave the world “Like a Rolling Stone,” “Blowin’ in the Wind” and dozens of other stan­dards, now finds him­self on a list that in­cludes Samuel Beck­ett, Toni Mor­ri­son and T.S. Eliot, whom Dy­lan re­ferred to in his epic song “Deso­la­tion Row.”

“Con­grat­u­la­tions to one of my fa­vorite po­ets, Bob Dy­lan, on a well-de­served No­bel,” tweeted Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, who in 2012 pre­sented the singer-song­writer with a Pres­i­den­tial Medal of Free­dom.

Dy­lan rarely gives in­ter­views, and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive said the star had no im­me­di­ate com­ment. He is on tour and was sched­uled to play in Las Ve­gas on Thurs­day night.

The star­tling an­nounce­ment out of Stockholm was met with both eu­pho­ria and dis­may.

Many fans al­ready quote Dy­lan as if he were Shake­speare, there are en­tire col­lege cour­ses and schol­arly vol­umes de­voted to his songs, and judges work Dy­lan quo­ta­tions into their le­gal opin­ions all the time, such as “The times they are a-chang­ing” and “You don’t need a weath­er­man to know which way the wind blows.”

With this year’s No­bel an­nounce­ment, many peo­ple, es­pe­cially Amer­i­cans, weren’t scratch­ing their heads and ask­ing “Who?!” the way they did af­ter hear­ing the names of such win­ners as Pa­trick Mo­di­ano and J.M.G. Le Clézio.

Oth­ers, though, lamented a lost mo­ment for books.

“An ill-con­ceived nos­tal­gia award wrenched from the ran­cid prostates of se­nile, gib­ber­ing hip­pies,” wrote “Trainspot­ting” nov­el­ist Irvine Welsh. “I to­tally get the No­bel com­mit­tee,” tweeted au­thor Gary Shteyn­gart. “Read­ing books is hard.” The Vatican news­pa­per L’Osser­va­tore Ro­mano said some “real writ­ers” prob­a­bly aren’t pleased.

But sev­eral lead­ing au­thors praised the news.

No­bel lau­re­ate Toni Mor­ri­son said in a state­ment that she was pleased and that Dy­lan was “an im­pres­sive choice.” Sal­man Rushdie, who has writ­ten songs with U2’s Bono, tweeted that Dy­lan is “the bril­liant in­her­i­tor of the bardic tra­di­tion. Great choice.” Peren­nial No­bel can­di­date Joyce Carol Oates tweeted that “his haunt­ing mu­sic & lyrics have al­ways seemed, in the deep­est sense, lit­er­ary.”

Dy­lan’s award also was wel­comed by a ven­er­a­ble lit­er­ary or­ga­ni­za­tion, the Acad­emy of Amer­i­can Po­ets.

“Bob Dy­lan re­ceiv­ing the No­bel Prize in lit­er­a­ture ac­knowl­edges the im­por­tance of lit­er­a­ture’s oral tra­di­tion, and the fact that lit­er­a­ture and po­etry ex­ists in cul­ture in mul­ti­ple modes,” ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor Jen­nifer Benka said in a state­ment.

Crit­ics can ar­gue whether “Vi­sions of Jo­hanna” is as lit­er­ary as “Wait­ing for Godot,” but Dy­lan’s stature among mu­si­cians is un­chal­lenged. He is the most in­flu­en­tial song­writer of his time, who brought a new depth, range and com­plex­ity to rock lyrics and freed Bruce Spring­steen, Joni Mitchell and count­less other artists to break out from the once-nar­row bound­aries of love and dance songs.

CHRIS PIZZELLO — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

In this file photo, Bob Dy­lan per­forms in Los An­ge­les. Dy­lan was named the win­ner of the 2016 No­bel Prize in lit­er­a­ture Thurs­day in a stun­ning an­nounce­ment that for the first time be­stowed the pres­ti­gious award to some­one pri­mar­ily seen as a mu­si­cian.

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