To send content items to your account,
please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies.
If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account.
Find out more about sending content to .
To send content items to your Kindle, first ensure email@example.com
is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings
on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part
of your Kindle email address below.
Find out more about sending to your Kindle.
Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations.
‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi.
‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.
“Where do the words come from?” Bob Dylan has been asked some version of this question hundreds of times over the years by journalists, fans, and critics, all hoping to glimpse the origin of his seemingly boundless capacity for lyrical invention. When he first arrived on the New York folk music scene, Dylan typically responded by inventing an ever-more colorful history for himself and attributed some of his early tunes to a life lived on the road. He claimed, for example, to have studied at the feet of a nameless Chicago bluesman after running away from home and also suggested that he gathered material from his (entirely fictitious) years spent working in traveling circuses and carnivals.1 In 1962, just after the release of his first album, he playfully fended off Cynthia Gooding’s initial attempts to explore his creative process by complaining about the studio temperature when she asked how much of “Fixin’ to Die” he had written. When she got him back on track and again pressed the question, Dylan unwound a tale about a woman working in a side show known as the “elephant lady” before explaining that he wrote a song about her called “Won’t You Buy a Postcard” but somehow lost it. Two months later, he employed similar tactics with Pete Seeger when the leader of the folk movement asked about “some of the songs Bob Dylan has made up.” The young man again squirmed a bit before claiming that “I write a lotta stuff. In fact, I wrote five songs last night, but I gave all the papers away … someplace.”2
Is there any writer or performer more haunting – and more haunted – than Bob Dylan? We recognize his songs, his vision, his inventiveness, his poetry, and especially his distinctive voice nearly everywhere: in music and film, popular culture and politics, global protest movements and intimate moments of self-reflection. As he now turns eighty, it’s a shock to realize that, for most us, Dylan has always been there, singing, touring, laughing, snarling, and sometimes even hawking whiskey and underwear. Like the members of the Nobel committee that awarded him the world’s most important cultural prize, we know he is a vastly influential artist. But which Dylan is it? The folk-singing activist who shared the stage with Dr. King at the March on Washington? The rocker in Ray Bans and a leather jacket who faced down hostile crowds by ordering his band to “play it fucking loud?” Is it the country boy who went to Nashville and befriended Johnny Cash? Or the Beat-inspired hipster who took to the road with a ramshackle medicine show? The Christian convert? The brilliant curator of folk and blues? The Sinatra-inspired crooner? Or the weary old man who’s “standin’ in the doorway cryin’?”
Bob Dylan has helped transform music, literature, pop culture, and even politics. The World of Bob Dylan chronicles a lifetime of creative invention that has made a global impact. Leading rock and pop critics and music scholars address themes and topics central to Dylan's life and work: the Blues, his religious faith, Civil Rights, Gender, Race, and American and World literature. Incorporating a rich array of new archival material from never before accessed archives, The World of Bob Dylan offers a comprehensive, uniquely informed and wholly fresh account of the songwriter, artist, filmmaker, and Nobel Laureate whose unique voice has permanently reshaped our cultural landscape.
We now imagine ourselves to be living in an age of nearly frictionless authorship, one in which ideas – both wild and mundane – can be instantly published on a blog, in a Facebook comment, or on platforms from Reddit to Amazon that thrive on what we still awkwardly refer to as “self-published” manuscripts. Authorship – whether defined broadly as the mere production of text or more narrowly as the creation of a work of art – has become ubiquitous. Rapid developments in the field of artificial intelligence, moreover, have eerily extended authorship into the realm of objects and machines: nefarious “bots” flood Twitter streams and, in 2016, an algorithmically generated science-fiction novel advanced past the first round of cuts for the Hoshi Shinichi Literary Award.1 The origin of such ubiquitous authorship cannot be dated exactly, but its effects registered vividly on the cluttered newsstands of the 1920s, where hundreds of magazines, newspapers, paperbacks, gazettes, pamphlets, and books jostled with one another for attention.