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Publisher's Summary

When the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan in 2016, a debate raged. Some celebrated while many others questioned the choice. How could the world's most prestigious book prize be awarded to a famously cantankerous singer-songwriter who wouldn't even deign to attend the medal ceremony?
In Why Bob Dylan Matters, Harvard professor Richard F. Thomas answers this question with magisterial erudition. A world expert on classical poetry, Thomas was initially ridiculed by his colleagues for teaching a course on Bob Dylan alongside his traditional seminars on Homer, Virgil, and Ovid. Dylan's Nobel Prize brought him vindication, and he immediately found himself thrust into the spotlight as a leading academic voice in all matters Dylanological. Today, through his wildly popular Dylan seminar - affectionately dubbed "Dylan 101" - Thomas is introducing a new generation of fans and scholars to the revered bard's work.
This witty, personal volume is a distillation of Thomas' famous course and makes a compelling case for moving Dylan out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and into the pantheon of classical poets. Asking us to reflect on the question "what makes a classic?", Thomas offers an eloquent argument for Dylan's modern relevance while interpreting and decoding Dylan's lyrics for listeners. The most original and compelling volume on Dylan in decades, Why Bob Dylan Matters will illuminate Dylan's work for the Dylan neophyte and the seasoned fanatic alike. You'll never think about Bob Dylan in the same way again.
©2017 Richard F. Thomas (P)2017 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Buretto on 11-27-17

Classical Dylan

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. It's exactly the kind of book on Dylan I've been waiting for. I've been a fan since I was a kid in the '70s, when Street Legal was the very first album I ever owned. I've steadfastly resisted the attempts at interpretive biographies, as if these authors presume to explain the the masses what Dylan himself has left enigmatic.

This is different. It's much more involved with Dylan's connection to the classical structure of literature and storytelling. There are the periodic references to Suze Rotola and Sara Lownds, and others involved in Dylan's life, but they are presented as characters in the epic stories that Dylan refashions from Ovid, Homer, Rimbaud and others.

The author, clearly a huge fan himself, may have underestimated the negative reaction amongst the more snobbish literary types regarding Dylan's Nobel Prize. I know of several who were beside themselves in horror. But I suspect Dylan might regard them as the right types of enemies to have.

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7 of 7 people found this review helpful

By Paul in Maryland on 01-14-18

couldn't wait for it to end

I've never thought much of Dylan's Tunes or lyrics. I thought even less of his voice. The only reason I read this book is that my daughter is about to marry a young man whose first name is Dylan. Yes, the young man's parents named him after Bob Dylan. Their hero. I figured I owed it to my Dylan and his parents to see what the fuss was about. Listening to this book was excruciating. The author cites examples of Dylan genius. Genius? You've got to be kidding me. He's no Stephen Sondheim or Billy Joel. to me, this book simply reaffirmed why I thought Dylan is a second or third rate pretender.

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