ENTERTAINMENT MUSIC

Online response to Bob Dylan's win brings up questions about the Nobel Prize's purpose

On Thurday, Bob Dylan was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. And while the American musician had been rumored to be among those in consideration by the Swedish Academy, many were surprised at the choice. 

As with all news, many took to social media to express their surprise, joy, jokes and even disappointment about the announcement. 

There were of plenty of Dylan fans who were pleased with the news. Authors, artists and other celebrities expressed their support and offered Dylan congratulations.

https://twitter.com/SalmanRushdie/status/786545802294550528
https://twitter.com/joe_hill/status/786570393972867072
https://twitter.com/marykarrlit/status/786544828477796352
https://twitter.com/EileenMyles/status/786585000451842052
https://twitter.com/MollyRingwald/status/786564304292184064

There was also a camp that had fun with the news, using the occasion to generate some good-natured laughs.

https://twitter.com/bendreyfuss/status/786585786539995136
https://twitter.com/Scaachi/status/786580767136632832
https://twitter.com/crushingbort/status/786580064850718721
https://twitter.com/parisreview/status/786577198769664000

But there were definitely those who were not on board with the Swedish Academy’s “radical” choice.

Dylan’s win “for having created new poetic expressions within the American song tradition” shows an expanded view of what is defined as “literature” and few will argue that Dylan is not among the top of his field creatively. 

Those expressing disappointment are not challenging Dylan’s artistic merits. 

The Nobel Prize in literature is awarded annually to a person who has “produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” The high-profile prize is often controversial, with some critics contending that well-known and deserving authors have not been recognized and others who claim some well-known winners haven’t deserved it. 

Most who are unhappy with Dylan’s selection complain that it overlooks other deserving but lesser-known candidates. 

https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786557254854070272
https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786557378300751876
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https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786557916975276033
https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786558195997085696
https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786558418886668289
https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786558622515929088
https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786559147479146496
https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786561815819931648
https://twitter.com/harikunzru/status/786566573331021824
https://twitter.com/hodgman/status/786568840641519617
https://twitter.com/hodgman/status/786586276141015041
https://twitter.com/hodgman/status/786587511552217089
https://twitter.com/hodgman/status/786587809645637632

Of course, now that the precedent has been set for songwriters as contenders for the literature Nobel, the door is wide open for next year’s contenders. 

Even those expressing disappointment, however, do not argue that lyrics are not a worthwhile literary form. 

https://twitter.com/hodgman/status/786590697331707905

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tracy.brown@latimes.com

Twitter: @tracycbrown

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