Two months ago, a Swedish news site reported that "a man thought to be Bob Dylan, clad in a hoodie" had been photographed in Stockholm. On that same day in late March, Dylan "finally accepted his Nobel literature award in a secret meeting with the Swedish Academy."
What he accepted was his Nobel diploma and medal. In order to accept the money that came with the prize—$891,000—he had to deliver a Nobel lecture within six months of the December 10 ceremony. Meaning, by June 10. Watching how cagily Bob responded to the whole ordeal of receiving an honor that most people would be grateful for and elated by (ignoring the Swedish Academy for weeks, not going to the ceremony in December), it seemed likely the lecture was never going to happen.
But yesterday, the Swedish Academy announced: "The Swedish Academy has received Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture."
Just in time!
They went on to say, "The speech is extraordinary and, as one might expect, eloquent. Now that the Lecture has been delivered, the Dylan adventure is coming to a close."
Hahaha. They must be so thrilled to put "the Dylan adventure" behind them. Maybe they'll give it to an actual writer next time! (Not to start up that debate again.) It's beyond ordinary, I'll give the Swedish Academy that. "Eloquent" is a stretch.
He seems as confused as ever about why he was given a literature award. He spends most of the speech trying to relate his work to Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey—but the relationships never become clear, except that those are books he read back in the day and that they probably worked their way into his work, somehow. After summarizing the plot of Moby Dick at length, he says that the novel's themes worked their way into his songs. He doesn't elaborate. He moves on. His other two pieces of literary analysis are just as... uh, extraordinary.
The lecture's 27 minutes long. Listen to the whole thing here:
If you can't take the background music, you can just read the text here.
Meanwhile, Merriam-Webster reports that, following the speech, online look-ups of the word "literature" are high. "'Literature' is literally spiking," the dictionary tweeted.