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Spring 2024


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New in David Marx: Book Reviews
A Review of Bob Dylan’s Poetics

Now up on the David Marx: Book Reviews blog, a discussion of Bob Dylan’s Poetics: How the Songs Work by Timothy Hampton. Click here to learn more about the book. Click here to read the full review. An excerpt appears below:

“An altogether meticulous, beguiling, and fascinating book that addresses the relationship between form, genre, and the many socio-politico themes which notoriously traverse Dylan’s work. A body of work which has always been partially ignited by his devout curiosity – not to mention thirst for knowledge – within the varying traditions of the (American) musical landscape. Something the author, Timothy Hampton, addresses very early on in the book: ‘Dylan’s deep sense of history and his curiosity about different musical traditions – from Mexican border ballads to western swing – have led some commentators to see his work as a kind of parable about American identity and inclusiveness. Here he is taken less as an existentialist hero or a great ethicist than as a quintessentially American bard, the heir to Walt Whitman and William Carlos Williams, speaking of and to the promise of America […]. The aesthetic range of Dylan’s achievement is especially important to acknowledge going forward, as his work now circulates in a global musical culture. And the next generation of listeners, working in a new digital landscape, will doubtless hear (and sample) this music in ways that we can scarcely imagine today.’

Along with the actual placing of Dylan within said songs of considerable thematic variation (as touched on in the very opening quote of this review), Bob Dylan’s Poetics’ covers a most comprehensive gambit in the Dylanologist making. Each of its six chapters bequeaths the reader with an abundance of thought-provoking information, which, however one chooses to look at it, is always open to invariable interpretation.”