The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan

The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan

by Kevin J. H. Dettmar
     
 

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A towering figure in American culture and a global twentieth-century icon, Bob Dylan has been at the centre of American life for over forty years. The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan brings fresh insights into the imposing range of Dylan's creative output. The first Part approaches Dylan's output thematically, tracing the evolution of Dylan's writing and his

Overview

A towering figure in American culture and a global twentieth-century icon, Bob Dylan has been at the centre of American life for over forty years. The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan brings fresh insights into the imposing range of Dylan's creative output. The first Part approaches Dylan's output thematically, tracing the evolution of Dylan's writing and his engagement with American popular music, religion, politics, fame, and his work as a songwriter and performer. Essays in Part II analyse his landmark albums to examine the consummate artistry of Dylan's most accomplished studio releases. As a writer Dylan has courageously chronicled and interpreted many of the cultural upheavals in America since World War II. This book will be invaluable both as a guide for students of Dylan and twentieth-century culture, and for his fans, providing a set of new perspectives on a much-loved writer and composer.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

These indispensable new books of Bob Dylan criticism carry on important critical traditions. Dettmar's (Is Rock Dead?) compilation of critical essays and reviews, like The Bob Dylan Companion: Four Decades of Commentary and Studio A: The Bob Dylan Reader, among others, is being marketed as a classroom text to support the growing number of college courses offered on Dylan. Its 17 essays are divided between "Perspectives" (e.g., Dylan and religion, Dylan and gender, Dylan as a performer) and "Landmark Albums." In this latter section, an unexpected choice is Infidels(1983), ably critiqued by novelist Jonathan Lethem. The historian Eric Lott writes on Love and Theft(2001), a wickedly appropriate match-up since Dylan took his album title from Lott's book of the same name.

In his fourth book on Dylan, Heylin provides an encyclopedic account of every song written by Dylan, from his juvenile efforts in the late 1950s to songs from Planet Waves in 1973; a second volume is promised. The songs are arranged chronologically, according to the date written, and range in length from a few sentences to several pages. The longer entries are not surprising-e.g., "Like a Rolling Stone" gets eight pages, and "Blowin' in the Wind" gets five. The book's great value is the discovery of many songs that Dylan either never performed or exist only on hard-to-find bootlegs. For each of the 300 songs, the first known performance and studio versions are cited, and Heylin offers analysis from his close reading of Dylan's life and career. This fascinating book is a perfect companion to Heylin's Bob Dylan: The Recording Sessions, 1960-1994 and will have the samehypnotic effect on Dylan fans as Michael Gray's The Bob Dylan Encyclopedia. Like the Cambridge Companion, it is highly recommended for academic libraries.
—Thomas A. Karel

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780521886949
Publisher:
Cambridge University Press
Publication date:
03/31/2009
Series:
Cambridge Companions to American Studies Series
Pages:
204
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.60(d)

Meet the Author

Kevin J. H. Dettmar is W. M. Keck Distinguished Service Professor and Chair in the Department of English, Pomona College, California.

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