Skip to main content

Bob Dylan's statement acknowledging Nobel Prize win mysteriously disappears

Bob Dylan exhibit at a book fair in Frankfurt, Germany, 2016. Photograph: (Getty)

WION New Delhi Oct 21, 2016, 05.24 AM (IST) Jeff Halperin

Bob Dylan might have just won the Nobel prize for literature, but he can be very hard to read.

Dylan has been silent since the award was announced last Thursday, and people are divided over whether he's being aloof through shyness, or whether his lack of comment is a kind of mysterious statement in and of itself. 

Nobody knew what to make of Dylan's silence, but that silence appears to be broken...or at least temporarily was.

A comically subtle development has taken place: The Guardian reported that Dylan made the first acknowledgement of the award when he updated a minor page on his website, selling a book of lyrics, to include the statement, "winner of the Nobel prize in literature". Except only hours later, the page that the article links to no longer includes any mention of the Nobel prize.


This screenshot from Bob Dylan's website was taken before the acknowledgement of winning the Nobel prize was removed. (Others)



The Guardian article is dated Thursday, October 20, 5 pm BST. The page on Dylan's website said to acknowledge winning the Nobel is dated October 17, and there is no mention made of any edits or revision. What happened?

Did the coy Bob Dylan change the page back to restore his initial silence once word that this almost inaudible acknowledgement might reach the public? Was he just playing a little game, only writing such a statement to see if it would get noticed? Was he just curious to see if such a relatively minor page of his website would receive scrutiny in light of winning this prestigious award?

In other words, is Bob Dylan just messing with our minds?

Many find it controversial that Dylan, a songwriter and musician, won the literary award instead of a novelist or poet. Some thought his silence was a type of rejection of the award, akin to the famous philosopher Jean Paul Sartre's response when he won the Nobel for Literature, which was to refuse the award on grounds "a writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution".

Sara Danius, the Nobel academy's permanent secretary, isn't worried about his official lack of acceptance, saying that when it comes to receive the award in a ceremony and deliver a speech, she expects he will be in attendance.

"I think he will show up," she said. "If he doesn't want to come, he won't come. It will be a big party in any case and the honour belongs to him."

While his lyrics are studied in university courses, Dylan critics like Christopher Hitchens believed that the closer one actually read his lyrics, the more unintelligible they became. Now life is imitating art, and enigmatic Dylan is as much as ever impossible to read.


Show Comments
  • delete