Bob Dylan’s Nobel Prize: A Historian’s Guide

From a colleague in our English Literature team..

History at the University of Gloucestershire

This post comes from John Hughes, Professor of Nineteenth Century Literature at the University of Gloucestershire, and author of Invisble Now: Bob Dylan in the 1960s (2013).


Any admirer of Bob Dylan’s work soon becomes aware of all the tiresome and uncomprehending clichés that are endlessly trotted out as reportage, usually by identifying him with the all topsy-turvy ferment of the 1960s – historical as well as musical. So, in the fall-out from his recent Nobel prize, Dylan’s significance has been depicted in terms of the usual quarter-truths, as if there must be some way to explain and contextualize the significance or value of his work. So (again) (and again) we hear that he was the spokesman of his generation; that he was the writer of the great anthems of the Civil Rights movement; that he was the person who inspired the counter-culture from the mid-60s onwards; and…

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