Bob Dylan remained radio silent in the weeks since winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature. Some — including a member of the Nobel Prize committee — took Dylan’s reaction (or lack thereof) as “impolite and arrogant,” and the possibility of him attending December’s ceremony looked all but out of the question. That was the perception anyways. Turns out it was wrong.
In a new interview with Edna Gunderson of the Telegraph, Dylan confided that when he was first told of the accolade, it was “amazing, incredible. Whoever dreams about something like that?” “It’s hard to believe,” he added. Asked if he planned to attend the award ceremony on December 10th, Dylan responded, “Absolutely. If it’s at all possible.”
So why then did Dylan not return the Nobel Prize committee’s phone calls? When asked that very question, Dylan playfully said, “Well, I’m right here,” but offered no further explanation, Gunderson noted.
Gunderson then posed a quote from Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, who bestowed Dylan with the Nobel Prize honor. “If you look back, far back, 2,500 years or so,” Danius said, “you discover Homer and Sappho, and they wrote poetic texts that were meant to be listened to, they were meant to be performed, often together with instruments, and it’s the same way with Bob Dylan. But we still read Homer and Sappho… and we enjoy it, and same thing with Bob Dylan. He can be read, and should be read.”
“I suppose so, in some way,” Dylan responded. “Some [of my own] songs – “Blind Willie”, “The Ballad of Hollis Brown”, “Joey”, “A Hard Rain”, “Hurricane”, and some others – definitely are Homeric in value.” However, he added, “I’ll let other people decide” whether his lyrics should be considered literary. “The academics, they ought to know. I’m not really qualified. I don’t have any opinion.”
Update: According to a statement issued by Danius, Dylan has formally accepted his Nobel Prize. “The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless. I appreciate the honor so much,” he apparently told Danius. It’s not yet known if Dylan will attend the ceremony.
Dylan’s comments will come as no surprise to his longtime friend and collaborator David Crosby, who accurately predicted such a reaction during an appearance on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live earlier this week. “He hasn’t snubbed them. He just hasn’t checked his mail yet, he doesn’t own a cell phone,” Crosby quipped. “The truth is Bob’s not really good about awards.” he added, recounting the time he traveled with Dylan to Princeton to receive an honorary degree. “He didn’t want it. He didn’t want to put on the cap and gown.” When it comes to the Nobel Prize, Crosby said, “He’s too smart not to be excited. “He just hasn’t figured out how he’s going to do it yet.”