The Swedish Academy which awards the Nobel Prize in Literature said on Wednesday that it had received a letter from Dylan explaining he would be unable to attend the ceremony in Stockholm “due to pre-existing commitments”.
“Bullshit,” wrote columnist Lena Mellin in Sweden's largest newspaper Aftonbladet in response.
“Anyone who knows of the Nobel Prize – and that’s quite a lot – would have understood if he had to adjust things because he had to travel to Stockholm and receive the prize from the King’s hand. No one, I mean no one, would have opposed if that was the reason,” she added.
Dylan has already collected a prize from Sweden's King Carl XVI Gustaf in the past: he was awarded the Polar Music Prize in Stockholm 16 years ago.
Being considered a genius is no excuse for Dylan’s reluctance to comment on being awarded the Nobel Prize, the senior Aftonbladet writer noted, pointing out that even geniuses must have certain limits (including, in her book, not being allowed to “beat people up, drive through red lights, and build bombs”).
Dylan was named this year’s Nobel literature laureate at an announcement in Stockholm on October 13th, and much of the early reaction centered on the controversial decision to give a literature prize to a musician.
That was soon overshadowed by his failure to respond to several phone calls from the academy however, who had such a hard time trying to contact him that they eventually gave up.
The American finally got in touch himself, speaking to Swedish Academy Permanent Secretary Sara Danius on October 28th to say that he accepted the prize and it had left him, somewhat appropriately, “speechless”.
The songwriter’s attitude hasn't thrilled Mellin though, who in her column also directed the most Swedish of insults towards him, insisting that for her, Dylan had now “planted his last potato” by saying he couldn’t come to Stockholm. In other words, it was the final straw.
Swedes really do love potatoes.