Author(s): Richard F. Thomas
'At last an expert classicist gets to grips with Bob Dylan' Mary Beard
When the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Bob Dylan in 2016, the literary world was up in arms. How could the world's most prestigious book prize be awarded to a famously cantankerous singer-songwriter in his Seventies, who wouldn't even deign to make a victory speech?
In Why Dylan Matters, Harvard Professor Richard F. Thomas answers that question with magisterial erudition. A world expert on Classical poetry, Thomas was initially ridiculed by his colleagues for teaching a course on Bob Dylan alongside his traditional seminars on Homer, Virgil and Ovid. Dylan's Nobel prize win brought him vindication, and he immediately found himself thrust into the limelight as a leading academic voice in all matters Dylanological.
This witty, personal volume is a distillation of Thomas's famous course, and makes a compelling case for moving Dylan out of the rock n' roll Hall of Fame and into the pantheon of Classical poets. The most dazzlingly original and compelling Dylan book in decades, Why Dylan Matters will amaze and astound everyone from the first-time listener to the lifetime fan. You'll never think about Bob Dylan in the same way again.
`At last an expert classicist gets to grips with Bob Dylan. Richard Thomas takes us from Dylan's high school Latin club to his haunting engagement with Ovid and Homer in recent albums. He carefully argues that Dylan's poetry deserves comparison with Virgil's - and Thomas, senior professor of Latin at Harvard and author of some of the most influential modern studies of Virgil, should know!' Mary Beard `In Why Dylan Matters, Professor Thomas reveals how Dylan's work transfigures Western literature and history into a magical world of song and performance that secures Dylan's place in a pantheon of literary heroes from Virgil to Eliot. A critical breakthrough that makes a masterful case for why Dylan is the bard of our times' Andrew McCarron, author of Light Come Shining: The Transformations of Bob Dylan `Richard Thomas has created a monument to Bob Dylan - and, also, a Rosetta Stone. The erudite and politically engaged Thomas is the perfect guide through the wondrous mystery of Dylan's genius' James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword `Why Dylan Matters is about the work of an astonishingly great artist and performer, and how that work echoes the great Greek and Roman poet-performers - Homer, Virgil, Horace, Catullus and Ovid - whose five voices are heard in Dylan's work. Richard Thomas teaches us, with loving and passionate authority, how he hears in these poems the voices and music of these great ancient poets; he teaches us how poems listen and hear and speak to other poems through all time' David Ferry, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry `Masterful, fun, passionate, learned, profound, and there's nothing like it. Thomas shows why Dylan deserves his Nobel - and how he hearkens back to, and enlists, the classics. Fantastic reading, full of gems' Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University `The coolest class on campus' New York Times
Richard F. Thomas is George Martin Lane Professor of the Classics at Harvard University, a Bob Dylan expert, and the creator of a freshman seminar at Harvard on Bob Dylan.