Bob Dylan received the Nobel Prize for Literature today (December 10). He was announced as the recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in October, but appeared to be unwilling to publicly acknowledge the prize for over two weeks.
He deleted a mention of the prize on his website, but later told the Telegraph it was “an amazing [and] incredible” honour and he would attend the ceremony “if at all possible”. However, he later confirmed he won’t able to attend due to other commitments.
Taking place in Stockholm, Patti Smith performed at the Nobel Prize Award ceremony, performing Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall’ on his behalf. You can watch the full ceremony here; Dylan’s prize is awarded at the 55:58 mark and Smith performs at 1:03:00.
Smith was accompanied by an orchestra for the performance. It was briefly interrupted when Smith accidentally repeated a line. “I apologise, I’m so nervous,” she told the crowd, who then applauded her as a show of support.
Professor Horace Engdahl of the Swedish Academy introduced Dylan’s award with a speech. You can read an excerpt of the speech below and you can find the full text here.
“Recognising that revolution by awarding Bob Dylan the Nobel Prize was a decision that seemed daring only beforehand and already seems obvious. But does he get the prize for upsetting the system of literature? Not really. There is a simpler explanation, one that we share with all those who stand with beating hearts in front of the stage at one of the venues on his never-ending tour, waiting for that magical voice. Chamfort made the observation that when a master such as La Fontaine appears, the hierarchy of genres—the estimation of what is great and small, high and low in literature—is nullified. “What matter the rank of a work when its beauty is of the highest rank?” he wrote. That is the straight answer to the question of how Bob Dylan belongs in literature: as the beauty of his songs is of the highest rank.”