The Swedish Academy, which awards the prize, said in a statement issued Wednesday that it had received a personal letter from Dylan “in which he explained that due to pre-existing commitments, he is unable to travel to Stockholm in December and therefore will not attend the Nobel Prize Ceremony” on Dec. 10.
The statement added that Dylan “underscored, once again, that he feels very honored indeed, wishing that he could receive the prize in person.”
The academy acknowledged that a laureate deciding not to come to Stockholm is “unusual, to be sure, but not exceptional.” It cited several laureates in the recent past who have been unable to attend for various reasons, including Doris Lessing, Harold Pinter and Elfriede Jelinek.
“The prize still belongs to them, just as it belongs to Bob Dylan,” the academy said.
The academy did point out that Dylan is required to present a Nobel lecture in order to receive the $927,740 prize. The lecture must be given within six months starting from Dec. 10.
Dylan’s prize was announced on Oct. 13 “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.” The academy later said that after five days of trying to contact Dylan to personally inform him of the award, it had given up. He acknowledged the prize two weeks later.
Born Robert Allen Zimmerman and raised Jewish in Minnesota, Dylan wrote some of the most influential and well-known songs of the 1960s. His hits include “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Like a Rolling Stone” and “Times They Are a-Changin’.”
Dylan, 75, is the first artist seen primarily as a songwriter to win the award, a fact that has stirred debate in literary circles.