It’s pretty clear by now that Bob Dylan doesn’t particularly care about being awarded a Nobel Prize for his work in literature, but perhaps his biggest middle finger to the organisation so far might be the story behind his recent lecture, which was a mandatory requirement for picking up the award and its almost million-dollar prize.

Dylan rocked up wearing a black hoodie to accept the award, which probably wasn’t an amazing show of enthusiasm to start with, and it seems he’s put as little effort as possible into his lecture too, if Slate is to be believed.

The publication points out the startling similarities found between Dylan’s talk on the literary works that influenced him as a child, and the annotations for those books on SparkNotes – basically the new version of CliffsNotes, which have given students an abbreviated analysis of books they couldn’t be bothered reading for decades.

So, was Dylan’s analysis of classic tales Moby-Dick, The Odyssey and All Quiet on the Western Front just that spot on, or did the famous poet jack his ideas outright from an online study tool?

In this case, Slate writer Andrea Pitzer has discovered that a dozen of Dylan’s 78 sentences in his lecture “appear to closely resemble” lines found on SparkNotes, with much of the specific wording exclusive to the site rather than being taken by both from the books.


Source: Slate/Andrea Pitzer

This is just a short sample of the first phrases that seem eerily similar from one analysis to the next, but you can read the rest over on Slate, including a ‘quote’ from Moby-Dick that Dylan attributed to a “Quaker pacifist priest” in his talk, but was actually far more reminiscent of the writing on SparkNotes than anything said by a character in the book.

So, did the newest representative of Literature completely phone in his lecture on the topic? You be the judge.

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