Dylan can snub Nobel prize but honour will always be his

Bob Dylan has not commented on his Nobel prize win even though he has appeared in two major concerts. Picture / AP
Bob Dylan has not commented on his Nobel prize win even though he has appeared in two major concerts. Picture / AP

What happens if Bob Dylan keeps ignoring his Nobel Prize?

The Swedish Academy committee that awards the Nobel Prize has apparently still been unable to contact Bob Dylan about his receipt of the honour.

On Thursday, Dylan gave a concert in Las Vegas and didn't mention the fact that he had just won the world's most prestigious literary award. He didn't acknowledge it on Friday when he performed in Coachella, either.

But what happens if Dylan continues to screen the academy's calls? Jean-Paul Sartre is the only known winner of the literature prize to have declined the award voluntarily; he had written a letter to the committee in 1964 asking not to be considered at all, but these were the days before email, and the letter arrived when they had already decided to give it to him that year.

"A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if it takes place in the most honourable form," he wrote.

It was rumoured, though never confirmed, that he later asked for the prizemoney anyway.

Other writers have declined it because they feared persecution. Soviet dissident writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn did not travel to Stockholm for his ceremony in 1970, because he was concerned that the Soviet Union would not allow him to return afterwards.

The committee refused Solzhenitsyn's request for a public ceremony at the Swedish Embassy in Moscow, so he initially turned down the prize, but formally accepted it in 1974 after he was exiled by the Soviet regime.

Nobel snubs generally go the other way: famously lauded writers who have found themselves ignored by the committee include Vladimir Nabokov, JRR Tolkien, WH Auden, Jorge Luis Borges, Leo Tolstoy and Anton Chekhov.

But although Sartre may have refused the prize, the Nobel committee still listed him as the winner.

"The fact that he has declined this distinction does not in the least modify the validity of the award," they said at the time. According to the statutes of the Nobel foundation, Nobel prizes cannot ever be returned or rescinded.

Sara Danius, permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy, emphasised the fact that Dylan has won it whether he acknowledges it or not: "If he doesn't want to come [to the prize ceremony], he won't come," she said.

"It will be a big party in any case and the honour belongs to him."

So, Dylan can ignore the academy all he likes, but the award is still listed in his name. Whether or not he makes an appearance at the ceremony, he will always be known as the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature.

- Daily Telegraph UK

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf05 at 02 Mar 2017 07:21:52 Processing Time: 671ms