Online response to Bob Dylan's win brings up questions about the Nobel Prize's purpose

On Thurday, Bob Dylan was announced as the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. And while the American musician had been rumored to be among those in consideration by the Swedish Academy, many were surprised at the choice. 

As with all news, many took to social media to express their surprise, joy, jokes and even disappointment about the announcement. 

There were of plenty of Dylan fans who were pleased with the news. Authors, artists and other celebrities expressed their support and offered Dylan congratulations.

There was also a camp that had fun with the news, using the occasion to generate some good-natured laughs.

But there were definitely those who were not on board with the Swedish Academy’s “radical” choice.

Dylan’s win “for having created new poetic expressions within the American song tradition” shows an expanded view of what is defined as “literature” and few will argue that Dylan is not among the top of his field creatively. 

Those expressing disappointment are not challenging Dylan’s artistic merits. 

The Nobel Prize in literature is awarded annually to a person who has “produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction.” The high-profile prize is often controversial, with some critics contending that well-known and deserving authors have not been recognized and others who claim some well-known winners haven’t deserved it. 

Most who are unhappy with Dylan’s selection complain that it overlooks other deserving but lesser-known candidates.

Of course, now that the precedent has been set for songwriters as contenders for the literature Nobel, the door is wide open for next year’s contenders. 

Even those expressing disappointment, however, do not argue that lyrics are not a worthwhile literary form.

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