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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Nobel Prize For Travesty


Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. This is a travesty.

If all song writers were eligible, shouldn’t John Lennon of The Beatles and other great lyricists have been considered too?

If we expand the definition of literature to merely be any form of writing or word-based expressions do we consider the scripts of commercials, soap operas or reality TV as worthy of the award? Maybe my blog deserves consideration for the Nobel Prize in Literature? How about well-written cartoon strips or comic books? There are many mediums by which words are written and used to express something, but they are not all equal in the eyes of the award, are they?

The Nobel Prize organization may have done a wonderful thing in honoring a terrific songwriter and passionate proponent of peace and justice but it did a reprehensible thing to all writers who pour their heart out to open books that will move, inspire, enlighten, inform, and challenge us.  Where’s their prize, their recognition?

It was a major insult to say that out of millions of books published globally each year that not one book or author was worthy of praise.  It is despicable.  What’s the point of having an annual award if you don’t honor those you are supposed to recognize with it?

Don’t get me wrong; I have nothing against Bob Dylan.  He’s a fine, creative artist who excelled in his industry – music -- not books, not literature.  The cultural icon and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has accomplished a lot – but none as an author.

Rockhall.com said:  “Bob Dylan is one of the greatest songwriters of all time, a gifted wordsmith with a political conscience, incisive storytelling abilities and a poet-like acumen for meter and language.”

Amen.

But when it comes to what is popularly defined as “literature,” I fail to connect his name to it.

The 75-year-old folk singer has had many hits over the past half-century and has contributed immensely to the music industry and world.  He’s up there with the great talents of his era-and all eras.  But can anyone name a book that he wrote? How about one that received awards or significant critical acclaim? 

He has written books. He penned Tarantula in 1971.  In 2004, the first part of a planned three-volume memoir was published.  That’s it.  A few of his songs were turned into children’s books, sold with a DVD.  My kids loved reading and hearing Blowin’ in the Wind.  But Dylan does not qualify for the award he was just given.

The Pulitzer Award for Fiction wasn’t given out in 2012.  That was perhaps the greatest snub to all writers.  But this Nobel Prize for Literature this year ranks closely behind that. 

Dylan is not without hardware or recognition.  Let me read a few things off that he’s won or been given:

Oscar
Grammy
Pulitzer Prize
President’s Medal of Freedom
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

All appropriate and terrific.

But not the Nobel Prize in Literature.

Rudyard Kipling.
Albert Camus.                        
Harold Pinter.
Eugene O’Neill.                                             
John Steinbeck.
William Faulkner.                               
Saul Bellow.

Those are legit winners of such a prestigious prize.  Unfortunately, the Nobel Prize reached beyond its purpose and though it honors a great musician and activist, it smeared the works of real authors and writers who should’ve been recognized for their great literature.  One thinks of books when they hear literature, whether of novels, short stories, poems or essays – not of songs. 

So what’s wrong with this?

If the award is not clearly defined and given in a manner consistent with past qualifiers and winners, then it means nothing.  Maybe next year someone who writes Facebook ad copy will win the award.

If songwriters were always eligible, how come no one knew this, and why weren’t so many others given strong consideration?

You see where I’m coming from?  You want to honor a songwriter?  Go ahead, but they already get recognized in the music world.  The award was never given to a musician before not because one wasn’t worthy, but because the voting members thought it had to be for writers of things like books.

Sure it has a romantic sound to it that the academy giving out these awards saw it fit to change how it has been doing business for over a century, but such a bold move undermines and devalues what the award is supposed to actually stand for. Mind you, it's not about whether we think Dylan is great writer or if anyone else is a greater writer, it is about the fact he is not an author at all, not as traditionally defined by this award. Writing songs that are sung to music is a lot different than words consumed on a written page. Music is not a book. 

For words – or awards -- to mean something – they need to be defined universally.  Don’t come crying to me when the Nobel Prize for Literature soon goes to some teen with a blog that only posts by using emojiis. Or maybe the award will go to to a prolific Tweeter, like Trump. According to the Nobel Prize academy, anything is possible. I dare not dream it.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2016 ©.

4 comments:

  1. I was floored when I read about this "award." The memory I have of this "award winner" is one of someone who was anti-establishment. The awarding group said they gave it to him for his poetry, the basis of his songs. That one I remember was not especially poetic. The ones mentioned in the article were ones I remembered but did not realize they were written or sung by him.
    One fact stands out in my mind. Someone had nominated him for this "award" for *15* years in a row.

    ReplyDelete
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  4. Dylan has been studied in literature courses in colleges and universities worldwide for decades now and Harold Bloom, one of the world's more distinguished literary critics, has for many years, noted Dylan as 'the greatest living poet of our time'. You've neglected to mention these points.

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