• Frank Furedi
  • Frank Furedi
  • Sociologist, commentator and author
Article

The crusade against masculinity

Fear and the renunciation of politics

Fear today

Fearing fear itself

Academics need courage, not anonymity

The first culture war

Tragic that love of country is now off the syllabus

The politics of fear

Why students feel so vulnerable

Why we shouldn’t fear being alone

The politicisation of identity

Why I’m sceptical about stories exposing Russian antics

Who’s guiding our children?

How ‘gender neutrality’ could screw up the next generation

The EU’s shameful crusade against Hungary

The toxic legacy of parent shaming – and the damage it does to children

Why Sweden’s populist moment matters

The Only Thing We Have to Fear

The great jerk rice debate (what a waste of time!)

Identity politics has conquered the Westminster bubble

Why Labour has a problem with Jews

The campus culture of fear and its costs

The paradox of our safety addiction

How Project Fear wants us all to panic over Brexit

The flight of the elites from the nation state

Now they even want to racialise the World Cup

The mainstreaming of porn

Hungary: The bad boy of the EU

Universities’ risk aversion is hampering intellectual progress

A war that begins in the nursery

Curse of helicopter parenting

Grenfell Tower fire a year on

‘The fear of populism is really a fear of the masses’

Gyáva lett a nyugati ember – Frank Furedi a Mandinernek

Who will speak for the European working class?

1968: The birth of the new conformism

El miedo a vivir con nosotros mismos o la sociedad medicalizada

The truth about Karl Marx

The cultural appropriation police are turning fried chicken, dreadlocks and prom dresses into a race

“La decadencia de Occidente” de Spengler: un siglo de pesimismo cultural

Loneliness can’t be ‘cured’. We must learn to find value in solitude

La apoteosis de la victimización

Orban’s victory: Another blow to the EU oligarchy

The myth of Cambridge Analytica’s power

A culture of bullying? Grow up

Italy has dealt a blow to the EU

Why the people must be sovereign

Stop this moral crusade against circumcision

Don’t blame the young for thinking JFK’s assassination sparked WWI - they’ve been tragically failed

Why they love baiting the Russian bear

My encounter with George Soros’s bright-eyed missionaries left me deeply disturbed

Turning the Army into a Safe Space

Switch off your kids’ phones and let them play outside

No patrimony

The fantasy of the ‘youthquake’

A liberal defence of populism

Turning childhood into a mental illness

The hidden history of identity politics

The meaninglessness of Charles Manson

The rise of duty-free politics

You can’t fine your way to free speech

The long plight of the right on campus

Why cheating has become the norm

Why I wrote a radical democratic defence of populism

Whiteness: a nonsense category

A radical life

Taking out a patent on culture

Exam stress is not a mental illness

Don’t play with fire

A culture war masquerading as a youthquake

Generational revenge: the politics of ageism

Populism on the ropes? Don’t be so sure

A revolt against deference

Masood’s motives? We may never know

Does Erdogan have a right to hold rallies in Europe?

Nincs szükség egy európai transznacionális birodalomra

The Therapeutic University

Universities blame others for plagiarism. They need to look at themselves

‘Just like Hitler’: The diminishing of the Holocaust

If you need a ‘detention director’ in your school you might be getting discipline wrong

There IS an alternative

RIP Zygmunt Bauman

Campuses are breaking apart into ‘safe spaces’

Why Millennials are so fragile

2016: A war of words against the people

Interview: ‘Despite fear, we should focus on the positives’

Standing up to the new school of anti-Semitism

Italian revolt

Populism: a defence

Fidel Castro: A tragic cold war figure

Free speech is at grave risk on university campuses

My Leonard Cohen

How Trump triumphed in the battle for legitimacy

Cast out for criticising PC: the 21st-century inquisition

The rise of safe space segregation

Bookish fools

Universities need to stop treating their students like children

Neem het maar aan van een Dylanfan: de Nobelprijs verdient hij niet

The Orwellian University

I love Dylan, but he shouldn’t get the Nobel Prize

I should be delighted Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. But I actually feel very ambivalent.

My Dylan moment came in the autumn of 1963. My then girlfriend Helen invited me to a party, which she said would be full of ‘beatniks and eggheads’. They were, in fact, the teenagers from the upper stream of my high school, otherwise known as the ‘brain class’. I felt ill-at-ease trying to make conversation with my clever peers, and then someone put on Dylan’s Freewheelin’ album. I was blown away. I was 16 and totally agreed with a self-important kid at the party who declared upon hearing Dylan that ‘our lives will never be the same’.

I have never stopped listening to Dylan. For a while, during his Christian phase, when he decided to ‘serve the Lord’, I was turned off: his music became unremarkable and the lyrics were appalling. But everyone is allowed the occasional lapse in talent. To this day, when I’m running low on inspiration I listen to Nashville Skyline. I still get goosepimples when I hear the line ‘It’s all over now, Baby Blue’. And at the risk of sounding predictable, and maybe even trite, I can honestly say that no other musician, singer or songwriter has had as big an impact on me, and most of my close friends, as Dylan.

And yet, the Nobel Prize? For literature? There’s something wrong here. I thought it was weird when a spokeswoman for the prize committee compared Dylan’s ‘The Times They are a-Changin’ to the works of Homer and Sappho. ‘The times’ was indeed a powerful and influential song, but to compare Dylan to Homer is wholly anachronistic. Homeric epics served as stories that Greek communities shared with one another and which they communicated to the younger generations – is this true of Dylan’s songs?

We don’t know very much about Homer. Many experts believe the works attributed to him were in fact written and revised by many different poets. It is likely that The Iliad was a product of Greek culture more broadly, not the work of one individual. Homer was not simply a poet: the works attributed to him were used as standard texts for the education and socialisation of generations of Greeks. A more suitable historical equivalent to Homer’s works would be the role played by the Bible in the education of Christian Europe. Not even Dylan would dare claim he had anything like a comparable status.

In any case, Homeric poems were the product of an oral culture; they expressed, and continue to express, a different aesthetic impulse and temperament to the modern written text. Although some people use the term ‘oral literature’ to characterise the poems and ballads of that older oral culture, it is actually confusing to band the oral and the textual together like this. I have no desire to police the boundary that separates literature from other forms of cultural activity. Rather, my concern is with the growing tendency to devalue the integrity of the written text – an issue I discuss in my book Power of Reading: From Socrates to Twitter. The more that the category of literature is expanded, the less it captures any true literary sensibility and instead becomes something very different.

If there were a Nobel Prize for cultural impact, Dylan would be a most deserving candidate. But for literature? According to rumours, some of the major writers who were also being considered for the prize included Japan’s Haruki Murakami, the American Don DeLillo, and the Kenyan Ngugi wa Thion’go. All three are worthy candidates; Ngugi wa Thiong’o has even made serious attempts to incorporate elements of the oral tradition into his texts.

To get the most out of Dylan, you have to listen to his songs, not read his lyrics. He is to be heard, not read. Indeed, if you read his lyrics out loud, rather than sing them, his words lose much of their force. They clearly do not resemble world-class literature. The Nobel Prize for Literature has gone to the wrong person. If they had asked for my input, I would have recommended a writer called Philip Roth.

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