Monday, January 24, 2005

Stephen Greenblatt Must Get Stoned

Here's something from the wires: Bob Dylan has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Here's the story:

Bob Dylan, the unofficial poet laureate of the rock 'n' roll generation, has now been officially placed alongside such literary greats as Philip Roth and Adrienne Rich, not to mention biographies of Shakespeare and Willem de Kooning. All were among nominees announced Saturday for the National Book Critics Circle prizes.

Dylan, whose memoir "Chronicles, Vol. 1" was a favorite with both reviewers and readers, is among the finalists for biography/autobiography, his competition including two acclaimed best sellers: Ron Chernow's biography of Alexander Hamilton and Stephen Greenblatt's biography of Shakespeare, "Will in the World." Also nominated were John Guy's "Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart" and "De Kooning: An American Master," by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan.

...Dylan, who more than anyone inspired rock 'n' rollers to think of themselves as poets, recounts his often mysterious past in an offhand, nonlinear style, from reading Civil War-era newspapers in the New York Public Library to sharing a hamburger backstage with Tiny Tim.

..."I'm of Dylan's generation, so it's a thrill for me," said nonfiction nominee Stephen Greenblatt, a leading Shakespeare scholar who at age 61 is two years younger than Dylan. "I had never thought I would be competing for an award with him."
Here's a little background on Greenblatt:

[He] believes that the formal aspect of texts--be it historical, poetic, novelistic, or dramatic--needs to be understood through the sociological determinants at the time of production. What needs to be uncovered are the "givens" in a particular text--sexuality, identity, masculinity, and so on--in order to determine the range of possible contextual meanings as well as those meanings that are excluded by definition. On the one hand, according to Greenblatt, literature needs to be reinserted into its historical contexts; on the other, all history needs to read as literature. Greenblatt’s most recent works include Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World (1991) and New World Encounters (1990). Greenblatt also edits Representations, a Berkeley-based journal in which New Historicist articles regularly appear.

So you could see why he so thrilled.

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