Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Nobel’s Door: Dylan for the Nobel in Literature?Submitted by Michael Nystrom on Tue, 10/15/2013 - 23:30
Knock, Knock, Knockin’ on Nobel’s Door
By BILL WYMAN | NYT | September 28, 2013
THIS year’s Nobel Prize in Literature should be announced in early October, and over on the tony British betting site Ladbrokes, Haruki Murakami of Japan, riding the waves of acclaim for his fantastical novel “1Q84,” is the favorite. Other well-known names — Milan Kundera, Philip Roth, Joyce Carol Oates — are bandied about, but Mr. Murakami is unique: among perennial Nobel front-runners, it would be difficult to find a writer more influenced by the popular music and culture born of the social and cultural upheavals of the 1960s.
That fact prompts a pressing question: why isn’t the most vital of the artistic catalysts of those upheavals himself a front-runner for the prize? I’m referring of course to Bob Dylan, a fierce and uncompromising poet whose writing, 50 years on, still crackles with relevance. Mr. Dylan’s work remains utterly lacking in conventionality, moral sleight of hand, pop pabulum or sops to his audience. His lyricism is exquisite; his concerns and subjects are demonstrably timeless; and few poets of any era have seen their work bear more influence.
I’m not the first to suggest it, but it’s time to take the idea seriously. The Nobel Prize in Literature is not awarded posthumously, and Mr. Dylan, now in his 70s, has battled heart disease. Alfred Nobel’s will decreed that the prize should go to a writer with “the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” Why hasn’t Bob Dylan received one?