After last year’s surprising choice of Bob Dylan to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature, some observers surely saw it coming that the prototypical trickster Dylan would largely ignore the experience and—implicitly—deny the Nobel Committee’s authority even to make such a distinction.
Initially, Dylan did not deign to mention the fact of the award in public, maintaining a silence so thorough that it tolerably irked the Nobelites: A few days after the announcement, writer and Swedish Academy member Per Wastberg referred to Dylan as “impolite and arrogant” for neglecting to utter a word on the matter. Interestingly, a few days after that Dylan positively gushed over the event, calling it “amazing, incredible” and asking “Whoever dreams about something like that?” But he soon announced that “pre-existing commitments” would force him to miss the ceremony. Patti Smith performed a Dylan classic in his stead.
Dylan never really stops touring, and 2017 is no exception. Dylan has a six-week tour of Europe coming up, and the first two shows take place in Stockholm on April 1 and 2.
According to literary omnivore Michael Orthofer, who helpfully deciphered some foreign-language reports, even though he will be a matter of blocks away from the Swedish Academy, Dylan has not made contact with the Swedish Academy in any way:
But, as the lady in charge, Sara Danius, now admits/reveals… well, they apparently haven’t been able to get him on the phone for months. So they have no idea what his plans are, or aren’t. As she says: “Vad han sedan beslutar sig för att göra är hans ensak”.
Interestingly, delivery of a lecture is practically the only demand placed on Nobel laureates, and Dylan’s apparent lack of interest could theoretically endanger his receipt of the hefty check that also comes with the Prize—Danius has indicated that failure to comply would result in nonpayment.
The prevailing theory is that Dylan is wealthy enough not to mind losing the check.
As Orthofer snarked, “This continuing humiliation train-wreck is something to behold. But I bet they all have their concert tickets…..”
Update: Much to the relief of the Swedish Academy, mere hours ago Dylan agreed to accept the Nobel Prize in Literature. Sara Danius, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy quoted above, commented:
The good news is that the Swedish Academy and Bob Dylan have decided to meet this weekend.
The academy will then hand over Dylan’s Nobel diploma and the Nobel medal, and congratulate him on the Nobel prize in literature.
The ceremony will be “small and intimate,” with no media present. Danius added, “Only Bob Dylan and members of the academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes.”
Dylan will submit a taped version of his required lecture, which is not unprecedented. Much as Michael Orthofer predicted, the Swedish Academy does have a group outing planned for one of Dylan’s Stockholm performances.
It’s good that Dylan does actually have the basic politeness not to snub the Swedes as thoroughly as seemed to be the case just a few hours ago. Dangerous Minds still holds to the view that Dylan is doing the absolute minimum he can do to acknowledge the award and still collect his 8 million Swedish Krone, which is after all nearly a million dollars.
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Bob Dylan raps on a Kurtis Blow album, 1986
Bob Dylan, slapstick comedy hero? It almost happened.