Blowin’ in The Plagiarism By Tom North

     Jewish song writer/singer (in a fashion), Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman), received the Nobel, not Noble, Prize for Literature, with a storm of controversy, since he is regarded as a musician, not a writer. Critics wanted the prize to go to a Third World writer, some guy from India whose name is on the tip of my tongue.

     Now there is another Dylan controversy: in his Nobel Prize lecture he said that the book Moby Dick “makes demands on you.”  Oh, come now, it is not a very complex text compared to other works in the Western cannon.  Anyway, so demanding was the text on poor Bob’s mind  that he seems to have plagiarised sections from a student guide to the novel. Yes, not a fellow English lit professor in a peer reviewed journal, but a student guide, great for struggling students, but one would have expected a little more in a Nobel Prize lecture: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/6/17/15809156/bob-dylan-plagiarized-nobel-lecture-sparknotesh. In short, he ripped off stuff that if it was done by an undergraduate student, would have led to a failed essay. And, he walks away with the loot, to boot.

     How did Mr Literature respond to this? Water off a duck’s back. Dylan has a long history of “borrowing” in his classic works: http://www.salon.com/2017/06/14/bob-dylan-nobel-speech-plagiarized/; http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/12/books/critic-s-notebook-plagiarism-in-dylan-or-a-cultural-collage.html.

     It is only fitting that Bob entitled his 2001 album, Love and Theft: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_and_Theft_(Bob_Dylan_album)

In conclusion:

How many songs must a man steal
Before you can call him a seal?
How many seas must a pseudo intellectual sail
Before his reputation will pale?
Yes,’n’ how many times must the critical canon balls fly
Before free speech is finally to die?
The answer my friend, is in “Marxist social praxis”
The answer is in “Marxist social praxis.”

(The phrase “Marxist social praxis,” was given by one of my commo uni. lecturers in  response to the famous Dylan song in a lecture I sat through back in the heady days of 1969.)

 

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Monday, 22 April 2024

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