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The Poetics of American Song Lyrics$
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Charlotte Pence

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781617031564

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781617031564.001.0001

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A Nobel For Dylan?

A Nobel For Dylan?

(p.169) A Nobel For Dylan?
The Poetics of American Song Lyrics

Gordon Ball

University Press of Mississippi

In his 1895 will, Alfred Nobel specified that in literature the work must be “the most outstanding...of an idealistic tendency”; and that “during the preceding year” the honoree must “have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Emphasis is placed on outstanding idealism and work that benefits mankind. This chapter examines the criteria used in awarding the Nobel Prize in Literature and argues that Bob Dylan deserves to be a recipient in light of his activism in early 1960s civil rights, antiwar songs, and beyond. It examines the debate on whether a literary prize can be given to a songwriter such as Dylan, and notes that Laureates Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats have addressed the connections between music and poetry.

Keywords:   literature, Nobel Prize, Bob Dylan, activism, civil rights, antiwar songs, poetry

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