(SNAPPA News): Bob Dylan has said he was left “speechless” after learning he had become the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
The 75-year-old was controversially handed the prestigious accolade earlier this month for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.
The Swedish Academy said Dylan acknowledged the prize for the first time this week in a phone conversation.
They said he told Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy: “I appreciate the honour so much.”
And he said: “The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless”
After failing to comment on the award immediately after it was announced, Dylan was called “impolite and arrogant” by an official from the Academy.
But in an interview with the Daily Telegraph he said he “absolutely” wants to attend December’s Nobel Prize Award Ceremony “if it’s at all possible”.
He told the newspaper being awarded the prize was “hard to believe”, adding it was “amazing, incredible.”
“Whoever dreams about something like that?”
Dylan became the first American to win the literature prize since Beloved author Toni Morrison in 1993.
His win was praised by literary figures and critics, with a leading academic hailing him as the Tennyson of our times.
Professor Seamus Perry, chair of the English Faculty at Oxford University, described Dylan as “one of the greats”, saying: “He is, more than any other, the poet of our times, as Tennyson was of his, representative and yet wholly individual, humane, angry, funny, and tender by turn; really, wholly himself, one of the greats.”
The decision was not received well by everyone, with Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh labelling it an “ill conceived nostalgia award”.
Announcing the prize on October 13, Ms Danius said Dylan was a deserving winner, adding: “He is 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 now he’s been at it and re-inventing himself constantly, creating a new identity.”
Born Robert Zimmerman on May 24 1941, in the backwaters of Minnesota, he reinvented himself as folk singer songwriter Bob Dylan.
Controversially he famously shifted to electric guitars in 1965 and was criticised by leading members of the folk movement for moving away from political songwriting.
Dylan is considered one of the greatest lyricists of modern times having penned memorable hits such as Blowin’ In The Wind and The Times They Are A-Changin’.
His 1962 track A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall is based on the traditional Anglo-Scottish border ballad Lord Randal which uses the question and answer pattern.
In 2008, the singer-songwriter won the Pulitzer Prize for his contributions to music and American culture.
His latest album, Fallen Angels, released in May was praised by critics – with Rolling Stone saying: “His phrasing remains spectacular, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes hilarious, and the playing is sublime.”
The six Nobel prizes will be handed out at a ceremony on December 10.
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