Bob Dylan has been accused of plagiarism before, reminding of the important aphorism credited to T.S. Eliot and/or Pablo Picasso: Good artists borrow; great artists steal. Agree or not, it’s clear that the line where influence collides with theft is a blurry one. Now Dylan is facing accusations of liberal borrowing from a classic source once again, but this time it’s not for a song. Detractors say Dylan, the controversial winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature, plagiarized Herman Melville‘s Moby Dick for his Nobel acceptance speech (or worse, from the SparkNotes).
To defend against these accustations, a fake Bob Dylan got on the phone with 107.1 The Peak during his tour — Dylan’s at the Capitol Theatre in New York’s Hudson Valley this week — to explain. “I’d strike the sun if it insulted me,” fake Bob Dylan says in defense of real Bob Dylan, saying the accusations aren’t true. Fake Bob also seemed to think Moby Dick was Moby, the recording artist. For the record, real Bob Dylan overtly claimed Moby Dick as an influence during his Nobel acceptance — granted, he might have even looked at the SparkNotes. Dylan joins Shakespeare as the most highly decorated routine borrower of source material for work produced in English. Here’s the speech: