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Bob Dylan as Richard Wagner

The announcement that Bob Dylan will be given the Nobel Prize in Literature set off a predictable but not entirely pointless controversy. Is Dylan literature? If so, does he deserve a place next to Thomas Mann and T. S. Eliot? And, even then, is there a pragmatic argument to be made against giving another big prize to a pop-culture colossus at a time when so many worthy writers struggle in obscurity? Although my Dylan fandom is as immoderate as anyone’s—in 1998, I followed him around the country for several weeks and wrote about the experience for The New Yorker—I’ve been half-swayed by the less huffy protests.
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