Dylan’s Chronicles, Caesar’s Gallic Wars

In this post from a while back, I suggested that Bob Dylan’s winning of the Nobel Prize represented a win for populism from the left over cultural institutions just as Donald Trump’s election to the Presidency represented a populist win from the right over political institutions.

I was thinking about these issues again and thought of another point of similarity between Dylan and Trump — their antagonistic attitude toward the press– but additionally felt I should add this one caveat about Dylan: that he had done at least one thing I considered seriously “literary” in the traditional sense, which his songs in fact seemed a sort of prelude or foundation for, which was his book Chronicles.

Now, I haven’t that read since it came out, and I am not sure what I’d think of it now, and I am sure he didn’t win the Nobel on its account; and yet, at the time of reading it, a comparison to Caesar’s Gallic Wars had come vividly to mind: not literature like a novel or a poem is, but as a well written personal account by someone of rare experience — a person, moreover, perhaps uniquely representative of their time.

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