Did Bob Dylan Plagiarize His Nobel Lecture in Literature?

June 14, 2017
Bob Dylan performs onstage

USA Today

Bob Dylan has been accused of plagiarizing parts of his Nobel Prize lecture, reports Rolling Stone. (If you’re confused as to what the lecture is, we’ll explain: In order to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature, Bob Dylan was required to submit a lecture in his field, which he recorded on June 4.)

In the lecture, Dylan describes the impact that three of the classics (Moby-Dick, All Quiet on the Western Front, and The Odyssey) had on his own songwriting. To do so, he summarized each book and described the themes that ended up in his own songs.

Now, the Rolling Stone article notes a Slate piece done by Andrea Pitzer, who drew parallels between Dylan’s Moby-Dick summary and the SparkNotes (think: the lifesaver for students who haven’t read the book and need to know everything about it ASAP) version. How did this all come about? After reading a blog post by Ben Greenman where he suggested Dylan made up a Moby-Dick quote, Pitzer did some digging of her own, finding around 20 or so similarities between the book and lecture.

Pitzer goes so far as to claim excerpts from Dylan’s lecture use words and phrases found only in the SparkNotes summary, but not in the novel itself. You can see the similarities, as detailed by Pitzer, in this Slate piece.