Bob Dylan Cites The Odyssey, Moby Dick, and All Quiet on the Western Front in Noble Prize Lecture
Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture is a meditation on the relationship between literature and lyrics. It’s a powerful witness to the lifelong influence great literature can have on a person’s life.
Dylan explains that the books he read in grammar school have had a profound influence on his life and on his songwriting: Don Quixote, Ivanhoe, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, A Tale of Two Cities, but most especially Moby-Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey.
He says the books he read in grammar school
gave you a way of looking at life, an understanding of human nature, and a standard to measure things by. I took all that with me when I started composing lyrics. And the themes from those books worked their way into many of my songs, either knowingly or unintentionally. I wanted to write songs unlike anything anybody ever heard, and these themes were fundamental.
The lecture is well worth the listen, especially to hear Dylan summarize three great works of literature and comment on their importance to him.
You can listen to Dylan’s full lecture below, and you read the transcript at the the official website of the Nobel Prize.