Bob Dylan has expressed awe at receiving the Nobel Prize for literature and thanked the Swedish Academy for including him among the “giants” of writing.
Bob was absent from Saturday’s award ceremony and banquet in Stockholm, but in remarks read by the US ambassador, he alluded to the debate about whether the award should go to a songwriter.
He said that when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, he was probably thinking about which actors to pick and where to find a skull.
In his words: “I’m sure the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was, ‘Is this literature?’.”
Bob said he too focuses on “mundane matters” such as recording in the right key, not on whether his songs are literature.
He thanked the academy for considering the question and “providing such a wonderful answer”.
The Mr Tambourine Man singer also told the academy he was sorry he could not be there in person and said he was “honoured to be receiving such a prestigious prize”.
He added: “Being awarded the Nobel Prize for literature is something I never could have imagined or seen coming.
“From an early age, I’ve been familiar with and reading and absorbing the works of those who were deemed worthy of such a distinction: Kipling, Shaw, Thomas Mann, Pearl Buck, Albert Camus, Hemingway.
“These giants of literature, whose works are taught in the schoolroom, housed in libraries around the world and spoken of in reverent tones, have always made a deep impression. That I now join the names on such a list is truly beyond words.”
Earlier singer-songwriter Patti Smith performed Dylan’s A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall at the ceremony.