Bob Dylan accused of plagiarism in Nobel Prize lecture

MANILA, Philippines – Controversy continues to hound Bob Dylan and his Nobel Prize for Literature, this time, involving allegations of plagiarism in the lecture he delivered for winning the coveted award.

In an article on, writer Andrea Pitzer wrote that the singer may have used lines from SparkNotesMoby-Dick study guide for his award lecture.

Pitzer said she uncovered the similiarites after another writer, Ben Greenman, said that Dylan might have made up a quote from the book.

"Those familiar with Dylan’s music might recall that he winkingly attributed fabricated quotes to Abraham Lincoln in his 'Talkin’ World War III Blues,'" Andrea wrote. "So Dylan making up an imaginary quote is nothing new. However, I soon discovered that the Moby-Dick line Dylan dreamed up last week seems to be cobbled together out of phrases on the website SparkNotes, the online equivalent of CliffsNotes."

Pitzer compared phrases from the SparkNotes study guide on the Herman Melville classic book to Dylan's speech. She noted that from the 78 sentences in Dylan's lecture in reference to Moby-Dick, 20 have similar phrases from SparkNotes.

She also mentioned that some of the terms used did not appear in the novel.

In his speech, Dylan said: "Ahab encounters other whaling vessels, presses the captains for details about Moby." The SparkNotes version said: "...the ship encounters other whaling vessels. Ahab always demands information about Moby Dick from his captains." 

Dylan also said in his speech: "Another ship's captain – Captain Boomer – he lost an arm to Moby. But he tolerates that, and he's happy to have survived. He can't accept Ahab's lust for vengeance."

The SparkNotes study guide said: "…a whaling ship whose skipper, Captain Boomer, has lost an arm in an encounter with Moby Dick…. Boomer, happy simply to have survived his encounter, cannot understand Ahab's lust for vengeance."

The breakdown of the texts can be found on

Pitzer said she has reached out to Dylan's recording company, Columbia, to seek clarification from the singer and his management, but has yet to get any feedback.

She  also said that it was not the first plagiarism allegation against Dylan. Pitzer cited Dylan's 2001 album "Love and Theft."  She said Dylan's use of quotation marks in the title seem "to imply that the album title was itself taken from Eric Lott’s acclaimed history of racial appropriation, Love & Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class."

Dylan was also criticized for his painting exhibit titled "The Asia Series"  in 2011, as many pointed out that his works were similar to that of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Léon Busy. 

In October 2016, it was announced that Dylan won the Nobel Prize in Literature, the first songwriter to receive the honor, which drew mixed reactions. But the award was marred with controversy when Dylan did not appear during the ceremony due to pre-existing commitments." (READ: Nobel laureate Bob Dylan: Uneasy 'voice of a generation')

Dylan formally accepted the award in April. His lecture was recorded on June 4 and posted on the Nobel Prize website on June 5.  –