The Swedish Academy, which hands out the Nobel Prize in Literature, said on Wednesday that it had received a letter from Dylan explaining that “due to pre-existing commitments” the songwriter would be unable to attend the Nobel Prize Ceremony in Stockholm in December.
“He underscored, once again, that he feels very honoured indeed, wishing that he could receive the prize in person.”
It “is unusual, to be sure, but not exceptional” that laureates decide not to receive the prize in person at the grand Nobel Prize Ceremony in Stockholm, added the academy.
Former winners who accepted the literature award but did not attend the ceremony in Sweden include Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter and Elfriede Jelinek.
“The prize still belongs to them, just as it belongs to Bob Dylan,” noted the academy, adding that the only requirement is that he give the traditional Nobel Lecture within six months from December 10th. The lecture does not have to be given in Sweden.
The Swedish Academy stirred debate in October when it revealed its unconventional choice of the American singer-songwriter for the prestigious literature prize.
Dylan himself added to the controversy after he failed to respond to repeated phone calls made by the academy following the announcement, prompting one academy member to call him “impolite and arrogant”.
He only officially accepted the prize around a fortnight later, in a phone call to the academy's permanent secretary Sara Danius, saying it had left him “speechless”.