Dylan is 80 Today
And in the course of reading various tributes to him I've been reminded that I may be the only person in the world, or at least the only Dylan fan in the world, who doesn't think Blood on the Tracks is a masterpiece, possibly the best of his many albums. Not that I don't think it's good, just not that good.
Also, I seem to be one of the few who are skeptical about that Nobel prize. Perhaps a bit more skeptical because I've been reading Kristin Lavransdatter, a truly great work of literature.
What current artists do you think might deserve one?
Posted by: Janet | 05/25/2021 at 03:59 PM
I don't think I'm qualified to judge.
No, make that I'm definitely not qualified. I'm having trouble even thinking of one apart from the one in the previous post.
Posted by: Mac | 05/25/2021 at 04:11 PM
I don't know much about the Nobel or how it's chosen, so I can't speak to the "deserving," but it seems that Wendell Berry would be the sort of writer that might possibly get picked. He's older, has been prolific in a number of areas, writes with a social conscience, etc. Like Dylan, however, he's a white Western male, and I'm not sure how many of those are allowed to be recipients in a given space of time.
Posted by: Rob G | 05/26/2021 at 06:07 AM
True, Berry would be an excellent choice.
Posted by: Mac | 05/26/2021 at 08:38 AM
By the way, in case anyone is reading this who didn't follow the link to the earlier post about the Nobel, my reservation is mainly about the fact that it's supposed to be a prize for *literature*, not that he doesn't merit recognition and respect. Dylan is a songwriter, and I don't think his lyrics stand alone on the printed page very well.
Posted by: Mac | 05/26/2021 at 08:59 AM
It was a lot of fun when Dylan won the Nobel Prize. Considering what Rob alludes to above (the Western white male controversy LOL) I am happy that he won. How far afield poetry is from song lyrics I can only leave to people like Mac who pay attention to poetry to try and analyze.
I believe that Saul Bellow may be the last Nobel Prize winning white American male (though he was born in Canada, I think we can still call Bellow an American - see the opening lines of Augie March) to win the prize prior to Dylan. The Nobel committee tends to go towards obscure authors, in my view. Perhaps I am quite wrong and they are much more celebrated elsewhere.
Posted by: Stu | 05/27/2021 at 12:57 PM
Well, for me it's not a matter of analysis, just of hearing. I have to admit that I haven't truly verified my view experimentally, so to speak, because it's impossible. I only know the songs as songs, and even when I read the lyrics it's pretty much impossible for me to get the tune out of my head, and frequently I can't even get Dylan's delivery out of my head.
But I think if I had never heard "Mr. Tambourine Man" and saw the lyrics written down, I'd think it had some striking imagery, but not much music, in the verbal sense. Sound is 50% of the essence of poetry (sense is the other 50%).
"Perhaps I am quite wrong and they are much more celebrated elsewhere." But even if they are celebrated, are they even that good? I was asking myself earlier today, thinking about this, if I was being an Awful White Male in suspecting that many of these relatively obscure authors from...how to say it?...diverse backgrounds are selected in part for their diversity. I really don't have any way of knowing, and I may be totally wrong, but I do suspect it.
Posted by: Mac | 05/27/2021 at 09:22 PM
I think you are probably right about the tokenism, Mac. Iirc, much was made about the fact that none of last year's Booker finalists were "non-diverse," as if that itself has anything to do with literary quality.
Posted by: Rob G | 05/28/2021 at 07:22 AM
But in today's climate "diversity" is a significant component of literary quality, while the work of a person who is not "diverse" for that reason alone loses at least a few points for quality. What an odious piece of cant that word has become.
I remember a conversation from probably the early '90s with a very doctrinaire progressive who, in private, would admit that the word was a euphemism, at best. She was complaining about the bad behavior of a black man--a teacher or administrator at a school, I think--and said "But he gets away with it because he's 'diverse'"--you could sort of hear the quotes around the word.
Posted by: Mac | 05/28/2021 at 11:16 AM
From about 1923 (Yeats) to 1983 (William Golding), the names are pretty well-known. Then it gets hit and miss. Mostly miss. The "hits" in that period for me are Toni Morrison (1993), Seamus Heaney (1995), Günter Grass (1999), Harold Pinter (2005), and Robert Zimmerman (2016). Y'all, being more widely read, probably know some of my "misses."
Posted by: Robert Gotcher | 05/28/2021 at 04:17 PM
Without actually counting them but just scanning the list quickly, I think I recognize roughly half of the names overall. "Recognize" includes anything from "not only recognize the name but have read something" to "think I've seen the name somewhere."
Posted by: Mac | 05/28/2021 at 04:37 PM
I know most of the names between '83 and the present but have only read a few of them. I'm most familiar with Ishiguro -- I either never heard or had forgotten that he had won it a few years back. I've read three or four of his books.
Posted by: Rob G | 05/29/2021 at 07:55 AM