Bob Dylan is causing a stir with the Swedish Academy because of his refusal to acknowledge his Nobel Prize in Literature. Member Per Wastberg recently told a writer of the Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter that “one can say that it is impolite and arrogant.” The comment may seem mild, but for the typically reserved Nobel Committee, this is a historical event.
Nobody knows whether Bob Dylan is going to attend the award ceremony or not. Recent actions such as removing his Nobel status from his website and not responding to Nobel emails, however, leans in favor of his absence.
Nobel Prizes have been rejected in the past, but they typically result from government pressure or physical illness. The only other person in history to refuse a Noble Prize, without an excuse such as health or fear of persecution, was Jean-Paul Sartre. But Sartre had a tradition of not accepting any official honors. Dylan, on the other hand, has not explained why he is giving the Nobel Committee the cold shoulder, which makes this whole controversy so compelling.
People around the world are speculating as to why Dylan is not accepting the prize with open arms. Does he disagree with the committee’s understanding of lyrics and literature? Does he not see the Nobel Committee as a worthwhile institution? Could this be one big publicity stunt? For now, we have no idea what’s going in Dylan’s mind. We can only wait and see if he attends the Award Ceremony on December 10th.
Featured image courtesy of Esquire.com