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Bob Dylan & the Nobel Prize in Literature

This guide was created to offer resources about the literary (or not) merits of Bob Dylan, inspired by the surrounding controversy of the Nobel Prize Committee to award Bob Dylan with the Nobel Prize in Literature this year.

The History of the Nobel Prize in Literature

The Nobel Prize was established by Alfred Nobel in his will, which can be read and studied here.

The prizes were to be awarded to "those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind." The winners would be selected by the Swedish Academy.

For literature, according to Nobel's will, it would be awarded to someone ". . . who shall have produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction . . . ." 

This "ideal direction" has been interpreted in different ways by the Swedish Academy throughout the years.

Ernest Hemingway, for example, was awarded the prize ". . . for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style" while Gabriel Garcia Marquez was awarded the prize for ". . . his novels and short stories, in which the fantastic and the realistic are combined in a richly composed world of imagination, reflecting a continent's life and conflicts." So, one award could be seen as given on the author's pure literary influence while the other may be given for both literary and cultural merits.

Bob Dylan was awarded the prize for ". . . having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition."

How might this songwriter fit into the larger scope of Nobel Prize in Literature Laureates?

Past Recipients of the Nobel Prize in Literature

2015: Svetlana Alexievich

2014: Patrick Modiano

2013: Alice Munro

2012: Mo Yan

2011: Tomas Tranströmer

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A List of

ALL NOBEL PRIZES IN LITERATURE