Bob Dylan wins Nobel Prize in Literature
75-year-old music icon 'created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition'
Singer-songwriter Bob Dylan has won the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, organizers announced early Thursday — marking the first time the prestigious award has gone to someone known primarily as a musician.
Dylan, who rarely gives interviews, had no immediate comment, according to a representative.
Currently on tour, he was scheduled to play in Las Vegas Thursday night.
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Dylan had been mentioned in the Nobel speculation for years, but few expected the academy to extend the award to a pop songwriter and musician.
Congratulations to one of my favorite poets, Bob Dylan, on a well-deserved Nobel. <a href="https://t.co/c9cnANWPCS">https://t.co/c9cnANWPCS</a>—@POTUS
From Orpheus to Faiz,song & poetry have been closely linked. Dylan is the brilliant inheritor of the bardic tradition.Great choice. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Nobel?src=hash">#Nobel</a>—@SalmanRushdie
I'm a Dylan fan, but this is an ill conceived nostalgia award wrenched from the rancid prostates of senile, gibbering hippies.—@IrvineWelsh
Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, likened Dylan's work and his literary merits to those of the earliest Western poets.
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"If you look back, far back … you discover Homer and Sappho," Danius said. "And they wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to, they were to meant to be performed, often with instruments."
"But we still read Homer and Sappho and enjoy it," she said. "It's the same way with Bob Dylan."
"He can be read and should be read, and is a great poet in the English tradition" <a href="https://t.co/g7CnFBlkNB">https://t.co/g7CnFBlkNB</a>—@NobelPrize
Lyric recognized as Literature!<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Sappho?src=hash">#Sappho</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Pindar?src=hash">#Pindar</a> would be proud<br><br>Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize in Literature <a href="https://t.co/LtQbAjSPsR">https://t.co/LtQbAjSPsR</a>—@sentantiq
The academy's last unorthodox pick for literature laureate came in 1997, when Italian playwright Dario Fo was named. Fo, who died Thursday at the age of 90, had been considered controversial because some felt his plays need to be performed to be fully appreciated.
Still, as Dylan — arguably the most iconic poet-musician of his generation — was revealed as this year's laureate at the academy's headquarters in Stockholm's Old Town on Thursday, reporters and others gathered at the event reportedly reacted with gasps, laughter and a loud cheer.
On social media, however, the idea of Dylan as a Nobel-winner was met with mixed reviews.
Some praised the decision as more inclusive.
Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize. Yes. Yes. Yes.—@Jeff_Daniels
Nothing pleases me more than the Nobel for Lit going to Bob Dylan. Some of the world's greatest songwriters have also been its finest poets.—@PritishNandy
A welcome surprise! Nobel Prize to Bob <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Dylan?src=hash">#Dylan</a> celebrates poetic and engaged contribution to music and <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Literature?src=hash">#Literature</a> over the last half century—@MartinSchulz
Meanwhile, many others lambasted the academy's choice, including self-described Dylan fans. Some critics called it a slight to writers.
Nobel Prize for Chemistry goes to Keith Richards—@tomscocca
I heard Gordon Ramsey has won the Nobel prize for chemistry, cos cooking and chemistry is the same innit? <a href="https://t.co/XSR4ftJj5l">https://t.co/XSR4ftJj5l</a>—@picklishsleep
The Nobel in Literature to Bob Dylan? A man who is quite literally a character in a Haruki Murakami novel? When Murakami should have won?—@ChanSteele
Amazing, though, how the Nobel committee will do anything to avoid giving the literature prize to Philip Roth.—@JeffreyGoldberg
Born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minn. in 1941, Dylan built his reputation with folk music by his 20s, but ever-evolving — and at times to the dismay of existing fans — he would also delve into rock, country, gospel, blues, pop, and rhythm and blues.
Songs from his catalog, including Blowin' in the Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin', became anthems for the U.S. anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s, and his impact on popular culture is immense.
He remains cited as an influence by major songwriters and musicians to this day. He continues to perform, including delivering a setlist packed with fan favourites and newer material during last weekend's Desert Trip music festival in Indio, Calif.
Dylan previously won a Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to American culture, a Grammy lifetime achievement award and a 2001 Oscar for the song Things Have Changed (from the movie Wonder Boys).
Literature was the last of this year's Nobel prizes to be awarded.
Three researchers shared the prize for chemistry for their work on molecular machines, while the medicine prize went to a Japanese biologist who discovered the process by which a cell breaks down and recycles content. The physics prize was shared by three British-born scientists for theoretical discoveries that shed light on strange states of matter.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts to end that country's lengthy civil war. Two U.S.-based professors won the Nobel prize in economics on Monday for studying how to best design contracts.
The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will.
Each prize is worth the equivalent of about $1.2 million Cdn (eight million kronor).
With files from The Associated Press