November 18, 2016
Bob Dylan will not be attending the Nobel ceremony, because he’s super busy right now
by Simon Reichley
In a statement at once touching and vaguely threatening, the Nobel Academy announced on Wednesday that literary-laureate-to-be Bob Dylan “has decided not to come to Stockholm.” According to the release, Dylan “feels very honored indeed” and regrets being unable to make the trip. In the letter Dylan sent to the Academy he cited “pre-existing commitments” that prevent him from traveling to Sweden for the ceremony.
That’s the touching part. The vaguely threatening part is where the committee calls his decision “unusual… but not exceptional” and then not-so-subtly reminds everyone that Nobel laureates are obligated to give a lecture within six months of the award ceremony:
We look forward to Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture, which he must give—it is the only requirement—within six months counting from December 10, 2016.
Hey Bob Dylan, that’s a really nice Nobel Prize for Literature you got there. It’d be a real shame if something… happened to it.
As the press release points out, Dylan will not be the first laureate to miss the ceremony. Harold Pinter was in the hospital, barred from travel by his doctor. Doris Lessing accepted the prize in London, also on because of health issues. Elfriede Jelinek declined to attend the ceremony on account of her “despair for becoming a known, a person of the public” and instead submitted her lecture via video.
According to Ben Sisario, reporting at the New York Times, neither Bob Dylan or his representatives have responded to requests for comment, and no tour dates are currently scheduled after November 23rd.
So, what is Bob Dylan doing on December 10th?
Who the hell cares what Bob Dylan is doing on December 10th! Maybe he is going bowling. Maybe he will be mourning the deaths of Leonard Cohen, Leon Russell, and the American Republic. Maybe he will be celebrating the birth of Kenneth Brannagh, or commemorating the death of Otis Redding. Maybe he will be spending the day listening to Duke Ellington’s “Mood Indigo,” which was recorded on December 10th, 1930.
Maybe he will be preparing his telescope for December 11th, when the planet Mercury will reach its Greatest Eastern Elongation, rising high above the horizon.
These may be the final days of the American Experiment and Bob Dylan wrote some of its most compelling mythology. Maybe it is only fitting that he should enjoy what little time is left, here, with us.
Simon Reichley is the rights and operations manager at Melville House.