Stockholm, Dec 5: Music icon Bob Dylan won’t be at the Nobel prize ceremony this week to accept his award, but he has sent along a speech to be read aloud, the Nobel foundation said today. The 75-year-old, whose lyrics have influenced generations of fans, has had a subdued response to the honour, remaining silent for weeks following the news in October he had won the prize for literature. “This year’s Laureate in Literature, Bob Dylan, will not be participating in the Nobel Week but he has provided a speech which will be read at the banquet,” the foundation said in a statement.
Sending along the speech does not exempt the American songwriter from holding a lecture at a place and a type of his choosing, the only requirement by the Nobel foundation. Rock legend Patti Smith will perform a version of Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” at the ceremony on December 10 in Stockholm, which is the same day as the banquet. Dylan said in a letter on November 16 that he would not attend the ceremony because he had “pre-existing commitments”, in an announcement that did not come as a surprise to observers.
Several other prize winners have skipped the Nobel ceremony in the past for various reasons — Doris Lessing, who was too old; Harold Pinter, because he was hospitalised, and Elfriede Jelinek, who has social phobia. Dylan did not say a word about his prize on the day it was announced, October 13, when he was performing in Las Vegas. The writer of “Blowin’ In The Wind”, “Like A Rolling Stone”, and “Mr Tambourine Man” confined himself to his songs.
The Swedish Academy said it respected Dylan’s decision, but that it was “unusual” for a Nobel laureate not to come to Stockholm to accept the award in person. Asked on October 28 by Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper if he would attend the Nobel prize winners’ banquet, Dylan said: “Absolutely. If it’s at all possible.” Academy member Swedish writer Per Wastberg accused Dylan of being “impolite and arrogant”, and said it was “unprecedented” that the academy did not know if Dylan intended to pick up his award.
But the first songwriter to win the prestigious award in literature is expected to come to Stockholm early next year. Nobel laureates are honoured every year on December 10 — the anniversary of the death of prize’s founder Alfred Nobel, a Swedish industrialist, inventor and philanthropist.