.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Doctor recommended for optimal cerebral hygiene 

Literature, part deux

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Ok, while Jenna's book might not be classified as literature, what about the writings of Bob Dylan? According to a number of very smart people, his lyrics certainly are literature and he's been nominated for years for the Nobel Prize.
It definitely can, said Gordon Ball, an author and literature professor at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. — who has nominated Dylan every year since 1996.

"Poetry and music are linked," Ball said. "And Dylan has helped strengthen that relationship, like the troubadours of old."
This from a guy teaching at a military institute. That's astounding! How many times must the cannon balls fly, before they are forever banned?

For a less certain viewpoint:
Christopher Ricks, co-director of the Editorial Institute at Boston University — and an avid Dylan fan who has written scholarly papers on the songwriter's work — said the question is "tricky."

"I don't think there's anybody that uses words better than he does," said Ricks, the author of highly regarded works of literary criticism such as "The Force of Poetry" and "Allusion to the Poets," as well as books on T.S. Eliot, Lord Alfred Tennyson and John Keats.

"But I think his is an art of a mixed medium," Ricks said. "I think the question would not be whether he deserves (the Nobel Prize) as an honor to his art. The question would be whether his art can be described as literature."
I have no problem classifying Dylan's work as literature. He's not the first poet to write songs and certainly has not been the last. I draw the line a considerable distance from books by porn stars, but the term 'literature' needs to evolve to describe writers like Bob Dylan, or else it too easily becomes the language of elitism.