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Why Bob Dylan Matters

Richard F. Thomas



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Dey Street Books
09 October 2018
Music; Folk & traditional music; Biography: arts & entertainment
The coolest class on campus - The New York Times

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's famous course, and makes a compelling case for moving Dylan out of the Rock & 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 readers. 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.
By:   Richard F. Thomas
Imprint:   Dey Street Books
Dimensions:   Height: 183mm,  Width: 140mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   272g
ISBN:   9780062685742
ISBN 10:   0062685740
Pages:   256
Publication Date:   09 October 2018
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Reviews for Why Bob Dylan Matters

A highly informed, yet intimately personal celebration of one of our most important living writers. --NPR Why Bob Dylan Matters is about the work of an astonishingly great artist and performer, and how that work echoes the great Greek and Roman poet-performers--Homer, Virgil, Horace, Catullus and Ovid--whose five voices are heard in Dylan's work. Richard Thomas teaches us, with loving and passionate authority, how he hears in these poems the voices and music of these great ancient poets; he teaches us how poems listen and hear and speak to other poems through all time. --David Ferry, author of Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations David Ferry, author of Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations Richard Thomas has created a monument to Bob Dylan--and, also, a Rosetta Stone. The erudite and politically engaged Thomas is the perfect guide through the wondrous mystery of Dylan's genius. Thomas draws on a scholar's insight, a fan's delight, and a lifetime of, yes, love to bring the people's laureate and his age passionately alive. --James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword At last an expert classicist gets to grips with Bob Dylan. Richard Thomas takes us from Dylan's high school Latin club to his haunting engagement with Ovid and Homer in recent albums. Thomas carefully argues that Dylan's poetry deserves comparison with Virgil's--and Thomas, senior professor of Latin at Harvard and author of some of the most influential modern studies of Virgil, should know! --Mary Beard In Why Bob Dylan Matters, Professor Thomas reveals how Dylan's work transfigures Western literature and history into a magical world of song and performance that secures Dylan's place in a pantheon of literary heroes from Virgil to Eliot. A critical breakthrough that makes a masterful case for why Dylan is the bard of our times. --Andrew McCarron, author of Light Come Shining: The Transformations of Bob Dylan Masterful, fun, passionate, learned, profound, and there's nothing like it. Thomas shows why Dylan deserves his Nobel--and how he hearkens back to, and enlists, the classics. Fantastic reading, full of gems. --Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University

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