Bob Dylan has won some impressive honors over the years -- armfuls of Grammys, an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, even a Pulitzer -- but a Nobel Prize in Literature remains elusive to the folk-rock icon. Despite being named by bookies as the odds-on favorite to snag the 104th Nobel Prize for Literature this week in Stockholm, Sweden, the honor went to a relatively unknown Swedish author named Tomas Transtromer. Should Dylan have taken the prize?

 

The Nobel Prize in Literature is awarded “the person who … produced in the field of literature the most outstanding work in an ideal direction,” in the words of Alfred Nobel, who endowed the prize. While Dylan has certainly produced most outstanding work and taken it into many directions (some being ideal), can his back pages of song lyrics even be considered literature?

In the strictest sense, maybe not. On the other hand, the prize has gone to a couple of historians and a philosopher over the years -- is a folk singer really that much of a stretch? Dylan is, after all, often considered a poet, a form of literature that has produced numerous Nobel laureates.

Any shortcomings in Dylan's qualifications were lost on the betting public, which last week pushed the singer's odds (yes, apparently you cab gamble on Nobel prizes) from a 100/1 long shot to a 10/1 contender to a virtual lock at 5/1. Eighty percent of bets made in a 12-hour period went to Dylan, reported the wagering site Ladsbrokers, following "a substantial gamble from clued-up literary fans." There's even (not oft updated) website, Dylanfornobel.com, but we won't get into that here.

In the end, though, none of it was enough to persuade the fickle Nobel committee, and Dylan still doesn't have a Nobel to put in his trophy room. Perhaps they read some of his actual prose, like his experimental -- and universally panned -- 1971 novel, 'Tarantula.'

Sure, an unknown poet from Norway could certainly use the recognition -- and the $1.4 million dollar prize -- more than Dylan, but few laureates could be as engaging when stepping up to the podium to accept the prize. We can't help but thinking that by Dylan missing out on the Nobel Prize in Literature, we missed out on what surely would've been one of the more memorable acceptance speeches in Nobel history. When it comes to speeches, Dylan doesn't pussyfoot around.