Bob Dylan is accused of plagiarizing portions of his Nobel acceptance lecture, igniting debate about the singer.
Slate writer Andrea Pitzer said many lines in Dylan's lecture, recorded June 4, appeared to be lifted from the website SparkNotes.
"Across the 78 sentences in the lecture that Dylan spends describing 'Moby-Dick,' even a cursory inspection reveals that more than a dozen of them appear to closely resemble lines from the SparkNotes site. And most of the key shared phrases in these passages … do not appear in the novel 'Moby-Dick' at all," Pitzer wrote.
Dylan is the first musician to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, but this is not the first time the singer/songwriter has been accused of plagiarism. Such criticism has dogged him throughout his career.
Pitzer noted that "Dylan remains so reliant on appropriation that tracing his sourcing has become a cottage industry."
In a 2010 interview with the Los Angeles Times, musician Joni Mitchell criticized Dylan, saying: "Bob is not authentic at all: He’s a plagiarist, and his name and voice are fake. Everything about Bob is a deception. We are like night and day, he and I."
In a 2012 interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Dylan brushed off criticism that he didn't clearly cite his sources, saying: "Oh, yeah, in folk and jazz, quotation is a rich and enriching tradition. That certainly is true. It's true for everybody, but me. I mean, everyone else can do it but not me. There are different rules for me. … Wussies and pussies complain about that stuff. It's an old thing – it's part of the tradition. It goes way back."
The allegations over Dylan's lecture have drawn mixed reactions. David Yaffe, a Syracuse University professor of humanities told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "I was very moved by his speech and I'm not any less moved knowing this."
Others were less forgiving.
"If Dylan was in my class and he submitted an essay with these plagiarized bits, I’d fail him," Juan Martinez, a literature professor at Northwestern University, told Slate's Pitzer.
Twitter users weighed in on the debate.
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