The IUP Journal of English Studies
Bob Dylan’s Literary Merit: A Critique

Article Details
Pub. Date : Dec, 2019
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES11912
Author Name : Sukanya Saha
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : Arts & Humanities
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 13



Bob Dylan’s songwriting extricates him from the pedigree of poets, establishing songwriting as a self-governing genre for cogitations. His emergence as the greatest creator of songs in human history with his volume of works and their influence on mankind make him a proponent of that counterculture which rejoices in unabashed liberty of themes and techniques. He has been hailed for “having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” Song lyrics are not destined to be poetry; they have a soul of their own. And recognizing Dylan’s works is akin to reexamining the literary scope of “poetic expression.” This paper identifies and analyzes certain characteristic features of Dylan’s songwriting style. It focuses on his poetic gifts, essentially on his linguistic and paralinguistic choices, and argues how and why one should refrain from finding parallels between his songs and mainstream poetry. Evidently, Dylan’s art lies in infusing song lyrics with the soul of poetry, retaining that tempo which characterizes songs essentially.


When Dante and Milton wrote poetry, they did so in conformity with the culture of their readers. They did not venture to define poetry. Their imagination worked to create a framework not intended at interpretation or propaganda. The history of literature lays bare the controversies encompassed in defining poetry convincingly. Edgar Allan Poe (Parks 2010, 52), for instance, identifies aspects involved in poetry and its gratifying effects as “imagination, invention, and originality,” which are meant to appeal to the aesthetic sense.


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