Bob Dylan may or may not have taken portions of his Nobel speech from SparkNotes

Bob Dylan may have had a little outside help in his recently submitted Nobel Prize speech, according to an essay from

The piece takes a look at Dylan’s speech and compares it to what’s written in the SparkNotes (the online version of CliffsNotes) for the book Moby Dick, which Dylan discussed at times during the speech. The research within discovers over a dozen instances of Dylan’s speech closely resembling the SparkNotes, such as:

Dylan: “Another ship’s captain — Captain Boomer — he lost an arm to Moby. But he tolerates that, and he’s happy to have survived. He can’t accept Ahab’s lust for vengeance.”

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SparkNotes: “…a whaling ship whose skipper, Captain Boomer, has lost an arm in an encounter with Moby Dick. …Boomer, happy simply to have survived his encounter, cannot understand Ahab’s lust for vengeance.”

The piece’s author, Andrea Pitzer, spoke with different academics about the similarities, with one telling her it’s not a huge deal while another said he would fail Dylan if he submitted the speech for a grade.

It’s unknown for sure if Dylan plagiarized the speech (Pitzer received no comment from Dylan or his record label, Columbia), or if he had any hidden intent for doing so.

“If the Moby-Dick portion of his Nobel lecture was indeed cribbed from SparkNotes, then what is the world to make of it? Perhaps the use of SparkNotes can be seen as a sendup of the prestige-prize economy,” Pitzer wrote. “Either way, through Dylan’s Nobel lecture, SparkNotes material may well join Duchamp’s urinal and Andy Warhol’s fake Brillo pad boxes as a functional commodity now made immortal.”

You be the judge — click here to read the whole article.

Photo by Francisco Antunes (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

One comment to “Bob Dylan may or may not have taken portions of his Nobel speech from SparkNotes”
  1. Pingback: Dylan Plagiarizes SparkNotes: The Jokerman Strikes Again | Rocknuts

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