Bob Dylan has broken his silence over winning the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature, saying he will attend the ceremony “if possible”.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Dylan said he “absolutely” wanted to collect the prize in person in Stockholm in December “if at all possible”. When asked if he agreed with Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, who compared his contribution to literature with the writers of ancient Greece, he said: “I suppose so, in some way. 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.”
He added: “I’ll let other people decide what they are. The academics, they ought to know. I’m not really qualified. I don’t have any opinion.”
Dylan was announced as the £740,000 Nobel prize winner on 13th October, beating off competition from Kenyan novelist Ngugi Wa Thiong’o, Japanese writer Haruki Murakami, American novelist Don DeLillo, Surian poet Ali Ahmad Said Esber, US writer Philip Roth and Italian scholar Claudio Magris.
Announcing the winner, Danius said: "He is a great poet – a great poet in the English speaking tradition and he is a wonderful sampler, a very original sampler. He embodies the tradition and for 54 years he’s been at it, reinventing himself constantly, reinventing himself creating a new identity."
She added that "Blonde on Blonde" represented "many classics" and was "an extraordinary example of his brilliant way of rhyming, and putting together refrains and his pictorial way of thinking".
In response to whether she expected criticism over the decision, Danius said "I hope not" and defended the choice by saying it followed in the same tradition as such writers as Homer, author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, as a writer of "texts that were meant to be listened to".