Writer Timothy Hampton, a leading scholar on the history of poetry, presents his book "Bob Dylan's Poetics: How the Songs Work." Hampton offers a unique examination of both the poetics and politics of Bob Dylan's compositions.
Focusing on the interplay of music and lyric, Hampton traces Dylan's innovative use of musical form, his complex manipulation of poetic diction, and his dialogues with other artists, from Woody Guthrie to Arthur Rimbaud. Moving from Dylan's earliest experiments with the blues through his mastery of rock and country to his densely allusive more recent recordings, Hampton offers a detailed account of Dylan's achievement.
Locating Dylan in the long history of artistic modernism, he examines the relationships among form, genre, and the political and social themes that crisscross Dylan's work. With this book, Hampton gives both a nuanced engagement with the work of a major artist and a meditation on the contribution of song at times of political and social change.
"This is a truly powerful book written by one of the leading scholars of the history of poetry today. The writing is clear and intellectually most exciting: Dylan's idiosyncratic genius is explained more compellingly than ever before. Hampton remains relevant, exciting and persuasively accurate as he shows the genesis of the songs as musical and literary forms and assesses their originality." –Nigel Smith, Princeton University
Timothy Hampton teaches literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also directs the Doreen B. Townsend Center for the Humanities. He has written widely about literature and culture across several languages.