There is a furor in the literary circles over the awarding of Nobel prize in literature to Bob Dylan, American songwriter, singer, artist, and writer. It created divisions in the literary community over the correctness of awarding the highest literary price to a songwriter. There are many who believe that lyrics are not literature and as such Bob does not deserve it. Even if lyrics are considered to be literature, there are many lyricists who are better qualified to get the coveted price.
Being a literature student, I’m aware of the fact that literature has actually started with the song. Long ago, when there was no paper, people would orally compose alliterative poetry, which was very much similar to lyrics, and sing them. They are not the works of one single person but many people, who, over many years, made many changes to the oral poetry, before they fully matured. We are not fortunate enough to inherit all that oral literature produced by our forefathers, though some of them such as Beowulf, are preserved for the posterity. Benjamin Bagby, a performer of medieval music demonstrated how people, who were called as gleemen in those days, performed heroic poems to the accompaniment of a musical instrument called lyre.
People in the middle ages had only one entertainment. After working hard throughout the day either hunting or fighting their enemies, they would gather around a fireplace, eat boar flesh and drink mead (fermented honey) and listen to a gleeman’s story. So the roots of the modern day literature lie in the song. Moreover literature is not something that is stagnant. In the middle ages people liked songs and storytelling. In the later Middle Ages people wrote a lot of poetry. In the modern age men of letters started producing fiction. Poetry, which ruled the world during the later middles ages appears to have lost its sheen. Even the days of fiction is on the wane. People want to listen to good music to destress themselves. So if someone produces good lyrics and sings them in an appealing manner he or she definitely deserves the honor.
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