Legendary American folk singer Bob Dylan has created history, becoming the first musician to win the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” as stated by the Swedish Academy.
This makes Dylan the 259th American to win the Nobel Prize across disciplines, and also the first American to win the Literature Prize since Toni Morrison bagged the prestigious award in 1993. Although Dylan has long been expected to win the Nobel Prize, the fact that the Academy has decided to extend its literature prize to a folk musician comes as a surprise to many.
According to the Permanent Secretary of the Nobel Foundation Sara Danius, the decision was made as the songwriter has proven himself “a great poet in the English speaking tradition.” “For 54 years now he's been at it, reinventing himself, constantly creating a new identity,” she told reporters in Stockholm, Sweden.
Dylan was a leading countercultural icon during the 1960s. His songs, including "Like a Rolling Stone," "The Times They Are a-Changin’," and "Blowin’ in the Wind," captured the political and cultural zeitgeist of the time, even becoming anthems for the civil rights and anti-war movements.
His deeply political and social music and lyrics represented the ideals that shaped an entire generation and redefined the norms of American folk music. His widespread popularity and larger-than-life persona even led some journalists to tout him as a spokesman for his generation, a claim he refuted.
Having sold over 100 million records, Dylan is also one of the bestselling artists of all time. In addition to the Nobel, he has also been the recipient of 11 Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award. He was also awarded a “special citation” by the Pulitzer Prize jury in 2008.
Since its inception in 1901, 109 prizes have been distributed to 113 writers across the world. Dylan will collect his prize on December 10.