Dylan, Bob

(1941– )
   Born Robert Zimmerman in Duluth, Minnesota, Bob Dylan has recently been described by Newsweek critic David Gates as “the most influential cultural figure now alive.” The particulars of Dylan’s life and self-creation are well documented in dozens of works of criticism, biography, and social history, some prominent examples of which include Robert Shelton’s No Direction Home (1986), Clinton Heylin’s Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades (1991), and David Hajdu’s Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña (2001). Adopting the name Bob Dylan shortly after arriving at the University of Minnesota in 1959, Dylan served an apprenticeship in American folk music and a marginal livelihood in Minneapolis before departing for New York City in December 1960, “hustling uptown,” as Shelton puts it, in Times Square for two months before arriving in Greenwich Village and launching a career as a folk performer there in 1961.
   Dylan’s musical antecedents are well known-among them Woody Guthrie, Jack Elliot, and the countless performers who contributed to Harry Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music (1952). Less readily identified are the literary models who influenced Dylan early in his career. Beat writers figure prominently in this group. Dylan’s work, in fact, served as a lynchpin which connected the work of Beat writers in the 1950s to literature and culture of the 1960s. As Shelton notes, “The union of poetry and folk music in Greenwich Village during 1961–63 held, thanks in part to Dylan, [who] coupled folk and beat poetry.” Dylan’s writing in his novel/prose poem tarantula, composed in late 1964 and early 1965, is heavily indebted in process, style, and content to the work of William S. Burroughs, jack kerouac, and gregory corso. His landmark recordings of this period, including Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, Blonde on Blonde, and the Basement Tapes display a spontaneity, consciousness, and surrealistic humor that is kin to the best Beat writing. Dylan’s debt to Beat literature became more explicit over time. His 1975 Rolling Thunder tour was to include Ginsberg, and photo documents from the tour famously include a portrait of him showing respect at Kerouac’s grave in Lowell.
   Dylan’s recently released memoir Chronicles, Vol 1 offers further and candid insight into the formation of Dylan’s persona and his connection with the Beats. Recounting a conversation with Archibald MacLeish, Dylan states, “At some point, I was going to ask him what he thought about the hip, cool Ginsberg, Corso, and Kerouac, but it seemed like it would have been an empty question. He asked me if I’d read Sappho or Socrates.” The Beats were the seminal figures Dylan identified as his literary antecedents. Dylan’s narrative strategy in Chronicles—his self-effacement as well as his selfawareness-is strikingly similar to Kerouac’s late period recapitulation of his youth in vanity of duluoz, a narrative whose candor and baldness seems in retrospect to serve as a conscious move on Kerouac’s part to dethrone himself as “King of the Beats.” Dylan’s Chronicles serves a similar demythologizing function—fracturing a traditional life narrative and audience expectations only to reveal surprising and fresh aspects of a life that many readers might have assumed they already knew and understood.
■ Dylan, Bob. Chronicles, Vol 1. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004.
■ Gates, David. “The Book of Bob.” Newsweek, 4 October 2004, 48.
■ Hajdu, David. Positively 4th Street: The Lives and Times of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Mimi Baez Fariña, and Richard Fariña. New York: North Point, 2001.
■ Heylin, Clinton. Bob Dylan: Behind the Shades. New York: Summit, 1991.
■ Shelton, Robert. No Direction Home: The Life and Music of Bob Dylan. New York: Da Capo, 1997.
   Tracy Santa

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • DYLAN, BOB — (Robert Allen Zimmerman; 1941– ), U.S. folk singer, composer. Probably the most significant folk artist in the last half of the 20th century, Dylan was born in Duluth, Minn., and grew up in the small town of Hibbing. He started writing poems at… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Dylan, Bob — orig. Robert Allen Zimmerman born May 24, 1941, Duluth, Minn., U.S. U.S. singer and songwriter. He grew up in the iron range town of Hibbing, Minn., adopted the name of the poet Dylan Thomas, and traveled to New York in search of idol Woody… …   Universalium

  • Dylan, Bob — ► (n. 1941) Nombre artístico de Robert Zimmerman, cantante, poeta y compositor de música popular moderna estadounidense. Partiendo del genuino estilo tradicional estadounidense (época de sus temas Escúchalo en el viento y Los tiempos están… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Dylan,Bob — Dy·lan (dĭlʹən), Bob. Originally Robert Allen Zimmerman. Born 1941. American musician who drew on blues, country and western, and folk music to create distinctive protest music in the 1960s. His song “Blowin in the Wind” became an anthem of the… …   Universalium

  • Dylan, Bob — pseud. di Zimmermann, Robert Allen …   Sinonimi e Contrari. Terza edizione

  • Dylan — Dylan, Bob …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Bob Dylan — Dylan redirects here. For other uses, see Dylan (disambiguation). This article is about the musician. For his debut album, see Bob Dylan (album). Bob Dylan Dylan onstage at the Azkena Rock Festival, Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain, June 26, 2010 …   Wikipedia

  • Bob Dylan — auf dem Azkena Rock Festival, 26. Juni 2010 Bob Dylan [ˈdɪlən] (* 24. Mai 1941 in Duluth, Minnesota; eigentlich Robert Allen Zimmerman) ist ein US amerikanischer Folk un …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Dylan & the Dead — Live album by Bob Dylan and the Grateful Dead Released January 30, 1989 …   Wikipedia

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