Bob Dylan and Intertextuality Essay

2483 Words Aug 20th, 2008 10 Pages
Tangled Up in New
Bob Dylan and Intertextuality Appropriation has always played a key role in Bob Dylan's music. Critics and fans alike have found striking similarities between Dylan’s lyrics and the words of other writers. On his album “Love and Theft,” a fan spotted many passages similar to lines from “Confessions of a Yakuza,” a gangster novel written by Junichi Saga. Other fans have pointed out the numerous references to lines of dialogue from movies and dramas that appear throughout Dylan’s works. He has stolen words from Shakespeare, F. Scott Fitzgerald and more recently, Henry Timrod in his latest album, "Modern Times" (Rich 1). Culturally, we have reached a point in time where revisiting past movements and styles have
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We may be able to offer particular ways to interpret and understand the lyrics of a song or the words of a poem, but we still cannot claim to have discovered the true meaning of the influences to create that text. This is something not even the author/artist can do. How can an author fully explain the meaning of a text when so many influences have been fed into it? This is a reality that Dylan is fully aware of:

You have to have seen something or have heard something for you to dream it. It becomes your dream then. Whereas fantasy is just your imagination wandering around. I don't really look at my stuff like that. It's happened, it's been said, I've heard it; I have proof of it. I'm a messenger. I get it. It comes to me so I give it back in my particular style. (Dylan, qtd. in Williams 267-68)

Artists cannot escape the continuous barrage of new influences brought to them by each new life experience they encounter. An ongoing conversation with these influences occurs as a result, and writers inevitably draw inward from that growing experience for inspiration. "The text produced by a writer is ... a processing of other texts and also a reply to other texts, with which the writer is maintaining a living dialogue" (Wolde, qtd. in Gilmour 16).

T. S. Eliot is acknowledged as the originating influence on later intertextual studies. In his 1919 essay, "Tradition and the Individual Talent," Eliot challenged the assumption that poetic inspiration

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