Rediscover: Bob Dylan

The Swedish Academy gave a surprise prize to Bob Dylan yesterday morning by awarding him the Nobel Prize in Literature. The folk legend's literary lyrics were recognized "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, called Dylan a "great poet in the English speaking tradition," saying his album Blonde on Blonde (1966) was "an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming and putting together refrains, and his pictorial thinking."

Though Dylan is first and foremost a musician, he has dabbled in other forms of expression. Tarantula (1971) is a combination of stream-of-consciousness prose, lyrics and poetry written in 1966, during a crucial period in Dylan's creative evolution. Writings and Drawings (1973), currently out of print, collects Dylan's song lyrics and sketches. Chronicles: Volume 1 (Simon & Schuster, 2004) is Dylan's first memoir, recounting his early New York years and his experience being in the eye of a pop culture storm. On November 1, Simon & Schuster will release an annotated and updated edition of The Lyrics: 1961-2012 ($60, 9781451648768).

Homer and Sappho "wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to," said Danius. "They were meant to be performed, often together with instruments.... We still read Homer and Sappho, and we enjoy it. Same with Bob Dylan. He can be read and should be read." --Tobias Mutter

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