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Dylan's Visions of Sin
christopher ricks

Ricks's book is not so much for the Dylan fanatic as for those who delight in language and literature for its own sake. While not as demanding as Finnagins Wake, Dylan's Visions of Sin certainly challenges the reader with puns, allusions, and vocabulary.

Christopher Ricks is Warren Professor of the Humanities, and Co-director of the Editorial Institute, at Boston University. He has been writing and lecturing about Dylan for decades. Best know for his books on English poets such as Milton and Tennyson, his most recent work examines the songs of Bob Dylan as poetry.

visions of sin

Ricks looks closely at forty of Dylan's songs as they relate to the seven deadly sins, the four virtues, and the three graces. He is doing for Dylan what he did for Milton in his 1963 book Milton's Grand Style. According to Helen Vendler, Harvard professor of English, his method was "to look at Milton primarily as a writer rather than as a thinker or activist in politics-to take his language less in the service of his ideas than as it made a linguistic fabric of its own, and a gorgeous fabric, too." Dylan himself has paid Ricks the tribute of a meeting, something he seldom does for academics, inviting him backstage when playing at Boston University-perhaps because he agreed with W. H. Auden who said that Ricks was "exactly the kind of critic every poet dreams of finding." Almost proving the point, Ricks began the conversation with Dylan by asking, "Read any good books lately?" With Engish discretion, Ricks tells us nothing else of that conversation.

His books include, Tennyson, Keats and Embarrassment, The Force of Poetry, T. S. Eliot and Prejudice, Beckett's Dying Words.

See the moderator's review of this book, from The Denver Post, here.

This link will take you to a radio show at Boston University's WBUR in which Ricks discusses several songs and especially Dylan's use of rhyme.

Like a Complete Unknown: The Poetry of Bob Dylan's Songs, 1961-1969
john hinchley

In one of the most penetrating appreciations yet of Bob Dylan's lyrics, John Hinchey provides fresh, striking insights into what gives the songs their power and durable appeal. He pays particular attention to the often combative conversation these songs conduct with themselves and with their listeners.

chimes of freedom Chimes of Freedom: The Politics of Bob Dylan's Art
Mike Marqusee

"Few ages of social change have been as well served artistically as the American sixties were by Dylan," he writes. Marqusee enlivens his sometimes dry analysis with song lyrics, references to liner notes and previously published interviews with Phil Ochs, Pete Seeger and other notable figures of the decade. He briefly explores the impact of artists like Woody Guthrie, Allen Ginsberg and Curtis Mayfield on Dylan, and explores well-documented examples of Dylan's longtime use of literature, folklore, newspaper articles, fragments of dialogue, the Bible and pieces of history in his songs.

Tangled Up in the Bible: Bob Dylan & Scripture
Michael J. Gilmour

In this book Gilmour offers a thorough study of Dylan's reading of scriptures. He explores the ways in which Dylan transforms biblical images and concepts when he incorporates them into his literary world; it is an attempt to listen to the echoes of scripture in his published works. Gilmour closely reads Dylan's poems and songs and provides commentaries on several themes found in Dylan's work: the Sermon on the Mount and Jesus; apocalypse, justice and judgement; oppressive religion and religious irony. Through these readings, Gilmour calls attention to the various ways Dylan uses scripture both in an explicit and an implicit manner.

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