Ever since the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel literature prize to Bob Dylan in October, it’s been a will-he-or-won’t-he affair on whether he would actually accept the honor.
Dylan did not physically appear at the December ceremony in Stockholm to retrieve the award. He did, however, give a statement to U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Azita Raji, who read it to the banquet attendees. He wrote that he was “honored to be receiving such a prestigious prize.” Still, the prize wasn’t actually in his hands.
But now, as the 75-year-old singer prepares for two concerts later this week in the Swedish capital, it appears he’ll make time to receive his Nobel diploma and medal, Sara Danius, the academy’s permanent secretary, announced in a blog post.
“The setting will be small and intimate, and no media will be present; only Bob Dylan and members of the Academy will attend, all according to Dylan’s wishes,” she wrote.
Danius added that Dylan will not deliver a lecture — something usually done during the ceremony in order to receive the 8 million kroner, or $900,000, monetary portion of the prize — during the visit. Dylan has until June to deliver a lecture. Otherwise, he will not receive the prize money.
“The Academy has reason to believe that a taped version will be sent at a later point,” she wrote, noting that author Alice Munro also sent a taped lecture in 2013.
Dylan is the first songwriter to win the literature prize, a point of contention among academics and pop critics. He is also the first American to win the prize since novelist Toni Morrison in 1993.
Dylan himself indirectly addressed the debate over his recognition for the prize in the written banquet speech, saying it took him a few minutes to process the news back in October. He said he then began to think about William Shakespeare:
“I would reckon he thought of himself as a dramatist. The thought that he was writing literature couldn’t have entered his head. His words were written for the stage. Meant to be spoken not read. When he was writing Hamlet, I’m sure he was thinking about a lot of different things: “Who’re the right actors for these roles?” “How should this be staged?” “Do I really want to set this in Denmark?” His creative vision and ambitions were no doubt at the forefront of his mind, but there were also more mundane matters to consider and deal with. “Is the financing in place?” “Are there enough good seats for my patrons?” “Where am I going to get a human skull?” I would bet that the farthest thing from Shakespeare’s mind was the question “Is this literature?”