Legendary folk rock singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has delivered his Nobel Prize lecture, the only requirement he needed to rightfully claim the Nobel prize for literature prize money.
Dylan, 76, was awarded the prize in October, but was unable to travel to Stockholm, Sweden to accept it at the December ceremony. (Dylan never clarified why he was unable to attend.) Instead, The Swedish Academy (the organizational body responsible for giving out the prizes) made arrangements for a private ceremony for Dylan in Stockholm in April, when he was in the city already performing at two concerts.
“The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet,” said Sara Danius, the Academy’s permanent secretary, at the time. “The Academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel Prize in Literature. The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.”
The lecture, which needed to be submitted by Dylan before June 10, can be crafted in any form – including a short speech, a performance, a video broadcast or a song. Upon his submission, Dylan can claim the US$923,000 presented along with the prestigious prize.
“The speech is extraordinary and, as one might expect, eloquent. Now that the lecture has been delivered, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close,” Danius wrote in a blog post.
Speaking for almost half an hour, Dylan describes how his work relates to literature while a soft piano plays in the background. He discusses three formative books in literature, saying they’re enduring and should always be admired: The Odyssey, All Quiet on the Western Front and Moby Dick.
“When I first received this Nobel prize for literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature,” Dylan says at the start of his lecture.
He refers to late musician Buddy Holly, one of the founding fathers of modern rock n’ roll, and how he “changed his life,” fully influencing him to take up songwriting. When awarding Dylan the literature prize, the Academy said they made the choice because of Dylan’s immense contributions to American song tradition.
Dylan is the first songwriter to win the Nobel prize for literature.
There was a lot of controversy surrounding Dylan’s silence following his win. Per Wastberg, a member of the Academy, told Swedish news outlets that Dylan’s silence was predictable but disrespectful.
“One can say that it is impolite and arrogant. He is who he is,” he said, according to the Associated Press.
You can listen to his full lecture, above.