Bob Dylan accused of plagiarising Nobel Prize lecture speech

The speech-stealin' Bob Dylan?

Bob Dylan has been accused of plagiarising parts of his recent Nobel Prize lecture.

The music veteran accepted the Nobel Prize for literature back in April, and delivered a 30-minute recording of his lecture last week – tracing the literary and musical influences behind his work.

However, now Slate has argued that large portions of his speech that appear to be lifted from online study website, Sparknotes – noting that 20 sentences in Dylan’s lecture closely resemble the site’s entry on entry on ‘Moby Dick’.


The discovery of the alleged lifting first came about when it was noticed that Dylan appeared to have invented a quote from ‘Moby Dick’ in which a ‘Quaker pacifist priest’ tells the character Flask, “some men who receive injuries are led to God, others are led to bitterness”. The journalist was unable to find the quote in his edition of the book, but did find something similar on Sparknotes – before being led to many others.

See Slate for a full breakdown of the passages Dylan allegedly copied, and a selection of a few below:

Dylan: “Finally, Ahab spots Moby … Boats are lowered … Moby attacks Ahab’s boat and destroys it. Next day, he sights Moby again. Boats are lowered again. Moby attacks Ahab’s boat again.”
SparkNotes: “Ahab finally sights Moby Dick. The harpoon boats are launched, and Moby Dick attacks Ahab’s harpoon boat, destroying it. The next day, Moby Dick is sighted again, and the boats are lowered once more … Moby Dick again attacks Ahab’s boat.”

Dylan: “Tashtego says that he died and was reborn. His extra days are a gift. He wasn’t saved by Christ, though, he says he was saved by a fellow man and a non-Christian at that. He parodies the resurrection.”
SparkNotes: “Tashtego … has died and been reborn, and any extra days of his life are a gift. His rebirth also parodies religious images of resurrection. Tashtego is ‘delivered’ from death not by Christ but by a fellow man – a non-Christian at that.”


Dylan: Another ship’s captain – Captain Boomer – he lost an arm to Moby. But he tolerates that, and he’s happy to have survived. He can’t accept Ahab’s lust for vengeance.
SparkNotes: “…a whaling ship whose skipper, Captain Boomer, has lost an arm in an encounter with Moby Dick …. Boomer, happy simply to have survived his encounter, cannot understand Ahab’s lust for vengeance.”

Dylan is yet to respond to the claims.

Bob Dylan
Bob Dylan

Having just finished a tour of the UK and Europe, he now heads to the US for dates throughout June and July.