The 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature Goes To… Bob Dylan

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The literary community was left divided this week after singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the world’s most prestigious literary award, the Nobel Prize for Literature, on Thursday, October 13.

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Dylan has managed to beat a number of notable authors (including Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Don DeLillo, Haruki Murakami and Javier Marias) to the top spot, bagging a $900,000 prize in addition to being named this year’s Nobel laureate – a great honour in itself.

Speaking after the announcement, Swedish Academy Secretary Sara Danius said that it had “not been a difficult decision” but acknowledged that some may view the choice as controversial, stating that “we [the Academy] hoped the news would be received with joy, but you never know.”

Although many have questioned whether pop songs should be allowed into the category of poetry (especially given the number of musical accolades available), it is clear that the nature of Dylan’s works has not excluded him from being considered a poet on the greatest stage of all.

Indeed, Danius compares the American songwriter to Homer and Sapphio (on the justification that the works of both are intended to be performed, often which musical accompaniment) and argues that Dylan “is a great poet in the great English tradition, stretching from Milton and Blake onwards. He’s a very interesting traditionalist, in a highly original way. Not just the written tradition, but also the oral one; not just high literature, but also low literature.”

Many notable writers have come out publicly in favour of the choice: Salman Rushdie has stated that “the frontiers of literature keep widening, and it’s exciting the Nobel prize recognises that”, and Billy Bragg said “the first couple of stanzas of ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ opened my eyes and ears to the idea that music and poetry could exist together.”

However, not everyone is so keen. Margaret Atwood, upon being informed that Dylan had won the Nobel Prize, responded “for what?” with cool acidity; Natalie Kon-Yu noted with a weary resignation many of us can sympathise with that awarding the prize to “another white male writer” is hardly a break from the norm. Irvine Welsh called the decision a “half-arsed attempt” to honour Dylan and argued that acknowledgement of his works should be restricted to the musical.

Interestingly, Dylan has maintained radio silence since the announcement was made on Thursday evening, failing to comment on the award despite having a readymade audience (as he was playing gigs in Las Vegas and Coachella on Thursday and Friday nights, respectively). Perhaps, like Jean-Paul Sartre before him, he wishes to decline the award on political grounds, or maybe he just doesn’t like the pressure that comes with such praise.

Speaking to The New Yorker back in 1964, Dylan once said that “I fell into a trap once last December when I agreed to accept the Tom Paine Award from the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee… I looked down from the platform and saw a bunch of people who had nothing to do with my kind of politics… They had minks and jewels, and it was like they were giving the money out of guilt. I got up to leave, and they followed me and caught me. They told me I had to accept the award.”

So, it is still unclear whether or not Dylan will attend the ceremony. However, Danius has emphasised the fact that Dylan has won the Nobel Prize whether he acknowledges it or not, commenting that “if he doesn’t want to come [to the prize ceremony], he won’t come. It will be a big party in any case and the honour belongs to him.”

Whatever your thoughts are about how ‘literature’ should be classified, it’s difficult to argue with the fact that Dylan is an excellent wordsmith. His gravelly voice and poetic lyrics musing over war, heartbreak, betrayal, death and moral faithlessness have brought beauty to life’s greatest tragedies. I’ve posted one of my favourites below. Why not add your own in the comments?

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(Images: The Guardian, The New York Times)

 

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And The Award Goes To… #3 (Best First and Last Lines)

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Quillies

OK, I’m going to pick up where I left off last time, so if you’re unfamiliar with this string of posts, please click here and here to catch up 🙂 Enjoy! And, as always, feel free to chip in with your own ideas in the comments section…

I’ve only proposed a few, as I could play this game forever! Do you have any favourite opening or closing lines?


Best First Lines

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way.”  – A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” – 1984 by George Orwell

“If this typewriter can’t do it, then fuck it, it can’t be done.” – Still Life With Woodpecker by Tom Robbins

“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.” – Murphy by Samuel Beckett

“It was the day my grandmother exploded.” – The Crow Road by Iain Banks

 

Best Last Lines

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Are there any questions?” The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

“Go, my book, and help destroy the world as it is.” – Continental Drift by Russell Banks

“I never saw any of them again, except the cops. No way has yet been invented to say goodbye to them.” – The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

“This is not the scene I dreamed of. Like much else nowadays I leave it feeling stupid, like a man who lost his way long ago but presses on along a road that may lead nowhere.” Waiting for the Barbarians by J. M. Coetzee

“It was the nightmare of real things, the fallen wonder of the world.” – The Names by Don DeLillo

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.” –  The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger

 

And the Award Goes to… #2 (some further suggestions)

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Quillies

OK, I’m going to pick up where I left off last time, so if you’re unfamiliar with this string of posts, please click here to catch up 🙂

You’ve made some wonderful suggestions, and so I thought I’d propose nominations to a few of the categories that have been put forward…

Enjoy! And, as always, feel free to chip in with your own ideas in the comments section…

 


 

Best AI Character

Miss Hadaly – in Tomorrow’s Eve by J.M. Villiers de l’Isle-Adam

The Minds – in the Culture series by Iain M. Banks

Major Motoko Kusanagi’s ghost – in Ghost in the Shell by Masamune Shirow

HAL – in 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke

 

Best Animal Character

Fiver the Rabbit – in Watership Down by Richard Adams

The Cat in the Hat – in The Cat in the Hat  by Dr Seuss

Pantalaimon the Dæmon – in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

Iorek Byrnison the Panserbjørn (Armoured Ice Bear) – also in the His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman

Character We All Secretly Would Like To Be

The Wart, in T.H. White’s The Sword in the Stone (nomination by Jon that I completely agree with!)

Hermione Granger – in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

Lucy Pevensie – in the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis

Alice – in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

 

Most Unexpected Plot Twist

The beheading of Ned Stark – in A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin

The capture and turning of Winston Smith – in 1984 by George Orwell

The death of Albus Dumbledore – in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

The death of Emma Morley – One Day by David Nicholls

The revelation that Mad-Eye Moody is, in fact, Barty Crouch Jnr., disguised by Polyjuice Potion – in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling

 

Most Frustrating Ending

A countdown that never reaches its climax (at the time, I didn’t know more books were coming!) – in Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

A writer who gave up on a wonderful series due to fan pressure. Such a shame. – The Dark Tower by Stephen King

What utter nonsense! – Breaking Dawn (well, actually, all of them, but my sister promised me a war in this book I just didn’t get! Grrrr…) by Stephanie Meyer

You’re left waiting for an ending that never comes. – in The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

 

Best Couple

Alobar and Kudra – in Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy – in Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Katniss Everdeen and Peeta Mellark – in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins

 

Best Book-to-Film Adaptation

The Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson – originally The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bladerunner, directed by Ridley Scott – originally Can Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

The Godfather trilogy directed by Frank Coppola – originally The Godfather by Mario Puzo

Requiem for a Dream directed by Darren Aronofsky – originally Requiem for a Dream by Hubert Selby Jnr.

Stand By Me directed by Rob Reiner – originally ‘The Body’ by Stephen King

 

Most Epic Death

Robb Stark, Talisa Stark, Catelyn Stark, Grey Wind, and various banner-men, during the ‘Red Wedding’ – in A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin

Gandalf the Grey – in The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien

Cecilia – in The Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey Eugenides

 

Best Fictional Technology

The ‘Stone’, the ‘Axis City’, just… everything – in Eon by Greg Bear

The everlasting goods introduced by the aliens, such as the ‘Forever-Car’ – in Ring Around the Sun by Clifford D. Simak

The ‘Point of View’ gun, the ‘Infinite Improbability Drive’, the ‘Babelfish’… again, pretty much everything – in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

The ‘Intercision’ device – in Northern Lights by Philip Pullman


Which other awards, or nominations, do you think should be included?
Let me know in the comments box below! 🙂

 

 

One Lovely Blog Award

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I want to thank Arielle Joy for nominating me for the One Lovely Blog Award!

It’s always lovely to think that there are people out there who enjoy what I write, and to have my efforts recognised!

To accept, one of the things I must do is tell you seven things about myself. Other rules do apply, and are listed at the bottom of the post. I have tried to be as open and honest as possible here, and hope this helps you all to get to know me a little better…


 

Seven Facts About Me:

(1) Whenever I see a book that looks neglected and unloved, especially if it is for sale, I get the overwhelming urge to ‘befriend’ it and take it home.

I have quite a few books I have ‘rescued’ from charity shops, library sales, car boot spreads, etc. Withering plants and cuddly toys (i.e. stuffed animals) have a very similar effect on me. I cannot help myself.

(2) I believe that the worst kinds of news are always unexpected and consequently, since I was a child, I have tried to ward off bad news by anticipating every disaster that could possibly happen.

The skewed logic here is that if I’ve anticipated it, it won’t happen. I am quite aware now, as an adult, of how ludicrous this is, but it’s become like a form of superstition – I don’t really believe in it, but find myself doing it just in case. As I approach my house, I reel off a mental list of the bad things I might discover upon arrival: fire, flood, theft, cat death, violent death, and so on, ad infinitum… Weirdly, I’ve found that this helps me to cope rather well when something bad does happen – I have always anticipated something worse, and so it doesn’t seem so bad when put into perspective by a gallery of imagined horrors. However, I am not sure what I’ll do when the worst actually happens.

(3) Treatment of my illness (using heat therapy) has left me with leopard-print scars all over my stomach.

I used to be quite… well, not confident, but certainly care-free when it came to my body, and now the idea of someone seeing me naked – or, actually, even catching a glimpse of the scars – fills me with foreboding. What annoys me most about that is that deep down, somewhere, I do actually care about how I look. I like to pretend I’m egoless but no one is, not really.

(4) I am my own toughest critic.

Always have been. I think it’s why I have such a hard time with my fiction – I find it difficult to accept anything less than perfect, and ‘perfect’ is not possible to attain – there’s always another way, a potentially better way, to say something. However, it is this same trait that drove me to attain great heights whilst studying for my BA, and it is not something I would change about myself, even when it works to my disadvantage. it’s a huge part of who I am, I think.

(5) When I was younger, I was a die-hard tomboy.

My mother cut my hair short because I used to refuse to brush it, and I liked nothing more than playing football in a muddy field with the boys. I used to live in my cut-off jeans, even in the winter when it was snowing. The love of denim and mud has somehow never quite left me.

(6) I think that there is an illness much like SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), but for greenery instead of sunlight, and that I have it.

I gravitate towards areas where there are lots of trees. I feel lost in cities where there is nothing but glass and concrete everywhere – Birmingham’s ‘concrete mile’, for instance. I feel like I’m going mad. Maybe it’s because I grew up with Sherwood Forest on my doorstep. Maybe it’s a trait I inherited from my mother (who has very similar sentiments about where to live). Or, maybe I just really like the colour green. Who knows?

(7) I’m the only member of my extended family that is not attached (i.e. in a long-term relationship, engaged or married) and/or the parent of a child or children.

Where I’m from, that makes me somewhat of a weirdo. I have nothing against anyone who wishes to settle down with someone they love and/or start a family, but I’ve never really had any maternal instincts of my own. I’ve always dreamed of different things. each to their own, right? 🙂

… and there’s your seven facts about me. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this!


Blogs I’m Nominating:

http://readinginto.wordpress.com/ – Steph

http://lisalabelleblog.wordpress.com/ – Lisa

http://firstnightdesign.wordpress.com/ – Sarah

https://darknesswarmth.wordpress.com/ – Phen

http://somethingabouther.org/ – Silvia

http://tomobrien2004.wordpress.com/ – Tom

http://royciebaby.com/ – Royce

http://modernphilosophystandards.wordpress.com/ – Nam

http://spiritinpolitics.wordpress.com/ – Tom

http://mistermaxxx08.wordpress.com/ – Mister Maxx

http://brucejewett.wordpress.com/ – Bruce

http://sloopjonb1960.wordpress.com/ – Jon

https://mycornerofthelibrary.wordpress.com/

http://dansimmsonfire.wordpress.com/ – Dan

http://acrossthehogsback.wordpress.com/ワシントン・ジアニ


Rules of Acceptance

In order to “accept” the award, recipients are asked to:

  • Thank the person who nominated them and include a link back to their blog.
  • Display the award logo and follow the blogger who nominated you.
  • List the rules of the award.
  • Share 7 facts about him/herself.
  • Nominate up to 15 other blogs and comment on one of their posts to let them know they have been nominated.