Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The whale truth, and nothing but the whale truth?

Despite being someone often presented as a pioneer and a true original, Bob Dylan has regularly been accused of taking significant inspiration from (i.e. stealing) the work of others and passing it off as his own, sometimes without credit. Often, this is in the lyrical content of his songs, but it's also true of his art - only this January, blogger Diamond Geezer told the astonishing tale of how Dylan had used one of his photos for a painting of a pier that the singer claimed was in Norfolk, Virginia rather than in Blackpool.

But it really would take the biscuit if Dylan cribbed the parts of his Nobel lecture about Moby-Dick from SparkNotes, the online equivalent of the York Notes books. Slate's Andrea Pitzer certainly makes a good case for it. As she suggests, it could possibly be seen "as a sendup of the prestige-prize economy" from someone who initially snubbed the Nobel panel, which would be a pretty punk gesture - but it might simply be evidence that Dylan can't change the habit of a lifetime.

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