Bob Dylan, regarded as the voice of a generation for his influential songs from the 1960s onwards, won the Nobel Prize for Literature on Thursday in a surprise decision that gave a singer-songwriter one of the world’s most prestigious cultural awards.
His songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Masters of War,” “A Hard Rain’s a-Gonna Fall,” “The Times They Are a-Changin,” “Subterranean Homesick Blues” and “Like a Rolling Stone” captured a spirit of rebellion, dissent and independence.
“Dylan has the status of an icon. His influence on contemporary music is profound,” said the Swedish Academy in a statement, awarding the 8 million Swedish crown (930,000 U.S. dollar) prize.
More than 50 years on, Dylan is still writing songs and is often on tour.
Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Nobel Academy, said there was “great unity” in the panel’s decision to give Dylan the prize.
“He is a great poet. He is a great poet in the great English language tradition stretching from William Blake onwards,” she said, adding that she assumed Dylan would hold the traditional Nobel speech rather than give a concert.
“No, I think it will be a speech, but I don’t know. I haven’t talked to him yet,” she said.
Literature was the last of this year’s Nobel prizes to be awarded. The prize is named after dynamite inventor Alfred Nobel and has been awarded since 1901 for achievements in science, literature and peace in accordance with his will.