When I first heard that Bob Dylan had won the Nobel Prize in Literature, I was immediately jealous of the scientists who had won this year. Not because they were now rich and had gained scientific immortality, but because they would get to meet the legendary troubadour himself at the festivities in Stockholm. Well, it’s now a definite “maybe.” After two weeks of radio silence that infuriated the Swedish Academy, on Friday Mr. Dylan told an interviewer for The Telegraph that he would show up for the award ceremonies in Stockholm on Dec. 10 “If I can.” The party, of course, would’ve gone on anyway, but it wouldn’t have been the same without him. As an old (emphasis on old) Dylan fan, I was knocked off my chair by the news he had won the literature prize — a possibility that had been bruited hopefully about for years, but who knew? Everything that has happened and not happened since has cemented in my mind the first thought I had that day: The Nobel Prize needs Bob Dylan more than Bob Dylan needs the Nobel Prize. The Swedish Academy, at least its literature committee, made a bold move when it named Mr. Dylan as its laureate, unleashing a torrent of discussion about the nature and limits of literature. I wish the committees that award the Nobel Prizes for science would be so adventurous. The Nobel Prize is the most honored and prestigious award in the world, but lately I fear it has seemed more and more hidebound, and in danger of being strangled by its own rules.
Excerpt from NYT piece by Dan Overbye. Click here for the full article.