Bob Dylan Reportedly Plagiarized From SparkNotes, Because Of Course He Did
    • THURSDAY, JUNE 15, 2017

    • Posted by: Robert Steiner

    Bob Dylan: Legendary songwriter, Nobel laureate, and all-time master of not giving a single, flaming shit. The poet already raised some eyebrows when he won the Nobel Prize in Literature last year and didn't say anything about it– except that he wasn't going to show up to the award ceremony. It wasn't even clear if he was going to do the lecture required to receive the prize, but he finally did a couple weeks ago. You can listen to the lecture in full online, and it's not half bad, especially if you're a Dylan fan who wanted to learn more about his life and music from the source. As expected from anyone worthy of the highest award in literature, the lecture was articulate and well-spoken, filled with plenty of memorable lines that could only be delivered by an artist like Dylan– But as it turns out, some of those lines may not have been totally his.


    After being available to the public for about a week, some keen eyed listeners have pointed out that Dylan may have copied passages from SparkNotes, the book series and website that summarizes major works of literature. The site has helped high schoolers the world over pretend they've read The Scarlett Letter, and apparently the legendary Dylan needed some help remembering what happened in Moby Dick. Andrea Pitzer for Slate complied several passages where the wording between SprkNotes and Dylan are noticeably similar. For one example, here's a quote from SparkNotes' Moby Dick summary:

    "One of the ships...carries Gabriel, a crazed prophet who predicts doom."

    And here's a quote from Dylan's lecture:

    "There's a crazy prophet, Gabriel, on one of the vessels, and he predicts Ahab's doom."

    There are many more examples where that came from, at least 20 according to Pitzer. While many people may find this shocking news, particularly people who didn't think Dylan deserved the Nobel in the first place, longtime fans are likely incredibly unsurprised. In fact, it arguably would've been a bigger shock if Dylan didn't try to rip off someone's work as his own, as the man has a history of copying in recent years. Just last year, he was accused of recreating a photo posted on Flickr as part of his 2016 painting exhibit, which is similar to an accusation in 2011 over a completely different painting. Dylan has always had his naysayers claiming a lack of originality, but in recent years, he's been pretty blatantly plagiarizing without much effort to cover it up. For many fans, this fact is just another reason Bob Dylan is a hard man to love, but as we've talked about before, he's built a career off of doing whatever the hell he wants. He still has plenty of great work he actually wrote, and let's face it: Even the best of us have used SparkNotes. Lord knows that website saved my ass when I read The Tempest.

    So is this Nobel plagiarism disrespectful? Yeah, it's arguably not the coolest thing to do. But is it completely in Dylan's character, a slightly senile old man who will forever do the opposite of what people want and expect from him? No doubt about it, and in the end, that's why fans love the great Robert Allen Zimmerman.

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