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A Harvard Classics professor and celebrated "Dylan-ologist" expands on his popular seminar in this intriguing meditation on the cultural significance of Bob Dylan--recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature.In his wildly popular freshman seminar on Bob Dylan--affectionately dubbed "Dylan 101"--Professor Richard Thomas is introducing a new generation of fans and scholars to the revered bard's work. A testament to the ongoing importance and appeal of Bob Dylan, Thomas's class incites lively debates on diverse social and political issues, such as sexism in "Just Like a Woman," and introduces students to the eclectic literary references in Dylan's work.Growing out of his class, Why Bob Dylan Matters celebrates Dylan's genius as it explores his music within the context of current events and modern popular culture. Thomas considers the influences on Dylan's creativity, analyzing the artist and his work, including his memoir, through the lens of western literature and in the tradition of classical poets such as Homer.Asking us to reflect on the question, "What makes a classic?," Thomas offers an eloquent argument for Dylan's modern relevance and passionately defends his 2016 Nobel Prize, maintaining that Dylan is indeed a poet for the ages on the level of T. S. Eliot or Virgil. Throughout, Thomas decodes and interprets Dylan's lyrics, illuminating their meaning for long-time Dylan lovers and for a new audience just discovering his genius.With depth and clarity, Why Bob Dylan Matters illuminates one of the most influential artists of our time and definitively makes the case for his lasting cultural significance.
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"At last an expert classicist gets to grips with Bob Dylan. Richard Thomas takes us from Dylan's high school Latin club to his haunting engagement with Ovid and Homer in recent albums. Thomas carefully argues that Dylan's poetry deserves comparison with Virgil's--and Thomas, senior professor of Latin at Harvard and author of some of the most influential modern studies of Virgil, should know!"--Mary Beard "A highly informed, yet intimately personal celebration of one of our most important living writers."--NPR "Why Bob Dylan Matters is about the work of an astonishingly great artist and performer, and how that work echoes the great Greek and Roman poet-performers--Homer, Virgil, Horace, Catullus and Ovid--whose five voices are heard in Dylan's work. Richard Thomas teaches us, with loving and passionate authority, how he hears in these poems the voices and music of these great ancient poets; he teaches us how poems listen and hear and speak to other poems through all time."--David Ferry, author of Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations David Ferry, author of Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations "Richard Thomas has created a monument to Bob Dylan--and, also, a Rosetta Stone. The erudite and politically engaged Thomas is the perfect guide through the wondrous mystery of Dylan's genius. Thomas draws on a scholar's insight, a fan's delight, and a lifetime of, yes, love to bring the people's laureate and his age passionately alive."--James Carroll, author of Constantine's Sword "In Why Bob Dylan Matters, Professor Thomas reveals how Dylan's work transfigures Western literature and history into a magical world of song and performance that secures Dylan's place in a pantheon of literary heroes from Virgil to Eliot. A critical breakthrough that makes a masterful case for why Dylan is the bard of our times."--Andrew McCarron, author of Light Come Shining: The Transformations of Bob Dylan "Masterful, fun, passionate, learned, profound, and there's nothing like it. Thomas shows why Dylan deserves his Nobel--and how he hearkens back to, and enlists, the classics. Fantastic reading, full of gems."--Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor, Harvard University

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