Bob Dylan’s Nobel Lecture Is a Little Late But Set to Jazz Piano So Literature Is Saved
Plus, Margaret Atwood reminds us that there are no public libraries in The Handmaid’s Tale and more news from around the literary web
In today’s literary roundup, Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is going graphic, Margaret Atwood becomes a New York Public Library savior, a poet is (unsurprisingly) sassy on Twitter, and Bob Dylan…is typical Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan talks literature and music in his much-awaited Nobel lecture
Who knew Bob Dylan was such a procrastinator? After being awarded a Nobel Prize in October and skipping the December ceremony, Dylan has had six months to deliver a lecture to actually receive the title (and the $900k that comes with it) — he chose to record it just six days before the deadline. In typical Dylan fashion, no one knew the acceptance speech was coming until it appeared on YouTube on June 5th. 27 minutes long with jazz piano music playing in the background, the speech begins by addressing what has been on all of our minds since October: “When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was.” Warning listeners and readers that he may speak in a “roundabout way,” he does just that. After discussing his inspiration, Buddy Holly, Dylan moves on to talk about Moby Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey. His conclusion? That he has been influenced by a lot of the same themes from these books, and that they can mean different things. He finishes by offering his audience some savvy life advice to not worry about “what it all means.” But, just in case you find yourself worried about what Dylan’s lecture means, Alexandra Schwartz has a breakdown of “The Rambling Glory of Bob Dylan’s Nobel Speech” for The New Yorker, including the bard’s book report/interlude on All Quiet on the Western Front, Moby Dick, and the Odyssey.
[The New Yorker/Alexandra Schwartz]
To Kill a Mockingbird will get a graphic novel adaptation
The legacy of the revered American novel To Kill a Mockingbird will continue in the form of a graphic novel. On Tuesday, HarperCollins announced that a new rendition of Harper Lee’s popular book will be released in November 2018, with British author and illustrator Fred Fordham in charge of drawing the graphic adaptation. Surprisingly (or maybe not), the idea comes from none other than the Lee estate as part of a series of projects having to do with the author’s novel since her death in February 2016. The late author was pretty old school about revisions and alternate versions of her work, only agreeing to an e-book of To Kill a Mockingbird in 2014. The book, originally published in 1960, has sold around 40 million copies and its impact shows no signs of stopping. We can’t know whether the infamously reclusive Lee would approve of the graphic novel; however, we do know that she continued to vouch for the messages of the book since day one.
[The Guardian/Danuta Kean]
Margaret Atwood Gets Real About Libraries & Free Thought
Margaret Atwood is a gift that keeps on giving. Given the enthusiastic reception of Hulu’s new series based on her 1985 dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood’s name has been revived in pop culture. Just last week we learned that she is backing a campaign for displaced writers. This week? Oh, she’s just trying to save the literary future of New York City by encouraging patrons to support the New York Public Library and bolster its funding for 2018. Noting the lack of libraries in her fictional world Gilead, Atwood’s letter on the NYPL website says, “There are an infinite variety of tyrannies and dystopias, but they all share one trait: the ferocious opposition to free thought, open minds, and access to information. Where people are free to learn, to share, to explore, feel and dream, liberty grows.” Given our current trying times, Atwood’s dedication to the cause, along with other writers such as Junot Diaz and Malcolm Gladwell, is a chilling reminder of how easy it is to take free access to books for granted.
Poet Patricia Lockwood finds hidden meanings behind the classics
For just one hour on Tuesday, poet Patricia Lockwood had the distinct pleasure of taking over The Strand’s Twitter account. Taking an untraditional route, Lockwood chose to use her allotted time to offer amusing, critical commentary on some of the world’s most popular books. Prefacing her takeover with a tweet saying she will be sharing her “unpopular book opinions,” Lockwood posted over 15 tweets mocking the likes of Anna Karenina and Hamlet. While some found the tweets hilarious, others tweeted back at the book store asking if it was “okay.” My favorites?