Slate Magazine claims Bob Dylan plagiarised 20 lines of his Nobel Prize acceptance speech on June 4.
Its author Andrea Pitzer has accused Dylan of lifting parts of his speech from SparkNotes, a CliffNotes-inspired site that provides chapter summaries of literature.
In Dylan’s case, he’s rather fond of the classic titles The Odyssey, All Quiet on the Western Front, and Moby-Dick. However, when discussing the three books that had the biggest impact on his career in his speech, he quoted passages which don’t exist in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick – or any of its iterations. But they do appear on SparkNotes.
Below is a few of 20 examples of similarities, first discovered by writer Ben Greenman and reported on by Pitzer:
Dylan: “Some men who receive injuries are led to God, others are led to bitterness.”
SparkNotes: “[…] someone whose trials have led him toward God rather than bitterness”.
Dylan: “Captain Boomer – he lost an arm to Moby. But… he’s happy to have survived. He can’t accept Ahab’s lust for vengeance.”
SparkNotes: “Captain Boomer has lost an arm in an encounter with Moby Dick… Boomer, happy simply to have survived his encounter, cannot understand Ahab’s lust for vengeance.”
Dylan: “He calls Moby the emperor, sees him as the embodiment of evil.”
SparkNotes: “He sees this whale as the embodiment of evil.”
Bob Dylan and the Nobel Prize Committee have yet to respond to the accusations.
The Nobel Prize comes with a $900,000 prize, which Dylan was only entitled to after fulfilling all the requisites that accompany it. One of those prerequisites is to deliver an acceptance speech to the Swedish Academy in Los Angeles.
This isn’t the first time Dylan has been accused of ripping off another wordsmith. His 2001 album Love and Theft was called out for its similarities to Junichi Saga’s book Confessions of a Yakuza and Henry Timrod’s Civil War poetry.
Then in 2010, Joni Mitchell said in an interview with the LA Times: “Bob is not authentic at all. He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception.”
You can stream Dylan’s full acceptance speech below: