Bob Dylan Named Winner of Nobel Prize in Literature


Photo by Ella Caine for The Science Survey

Kaya Scheman, ’17, Editorial Columnist.

Bob Dylan has officially accepted the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature after being awarded it on October 13, 2016. Many fans were concerned after Dylan received the award, but remained silent for several weeks afterward, but Dylan claims he was “speechless” after hearing the news.

Robert Allen Zimmerman, who goes by the stage name Bob Dylan, is arguably one of the most influential singers and songwriters in American history.

Dylan, born in 1941 in Minnesota, was raised by his two parents in a small Jewish community. As a child, Dylan clung tightly to his radio – listening to the blues, country, and ultimately rock and roll. He explored his musical side in both high school and college in several bands.

Dylan soon dropped out of college and moved to New York to pursue his musical career. After signing a contract with Albert Grossman, his musical career truly was launched. Dylan began producing music with powerful historical and societal messages. He was not afraid to speak out through his powerful musical rhetoric during controversial times.

His 1962 anthem ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ speaks volumes on his and other citizens’ antiwar sentiments. Dylan’s 1964 recording ‘The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll’ accounts for the killing of African-American barmaid Hattie Carroll, further presenting Dylan’s viewpoints on extreme racism and segregation prevalent throughout the mid twentieth century.

Dylan also dominated the genre of Rock and Roll. His hit single ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ was arguably what caused Dylan to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone magazine even named the song the greatest of all time.

Ticket photographed by Kaya Scheman for The Science Survey
A ticket from a 1962 Bob Dylan concert, held at San Diego State University.

Though the height of Dylan’s career was considered by many to be in the twentieth century, many Bronx Science students are true fans of his music.

“I think it’s great that he’s getting recognized for his lyricism within the mainstream,” said Ted Reiner ’17. “Most people think of Dylan as a folk-hero or an American-rebel-representation kind of figure, when in reality, the best part of his music was in the lyrics.”

Many fans often hear Dylan’s lyrics as more than pleasing or well-written. He is applauded for his poetic tendencies, which only serves to affirm his Nobel Prize in literature. Yet, a few critics have found Dylan to be undeserving of such an honor.

The New York Times editorialist Anna North wrote, “by awarding the prize to him, the Nobel committee is choosing not to award it to a writer, and that is a disappointing choice.”

Awarding the Nobel Prize in literature to someone who falls outside of the traditional category simply allows for greater opportunity and recognition of accomplishment within that field. Not all literature must come solely through the written form. Dylan’s poetic lyrics make him a perfect candidate for this category.

Dylan’s acceptance of the Nobel Prize should be an accomplishment that all Americans celebrate and cherish. The far reaching implications encompassed within all of his musical creations remain unique.