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‘This is what Salvation must be like after a While’: Bob Dylan’s Critical Utopia



Bob Dylan’s work has frequently been the object of discussion, debate and scholarly research. It has been commented on in terms of interpretation of the lyrics of his songs, of their musical treatment, and of the distinctiveness of Dylan’s performance style, while Dylan himself has been treated both as an important figure in the world of popular music, and also as an artist, as a significant poet. In his prolific output Dylan deals with a number of recurring themes, which he constantly revisits and develops. One of these themes is the perpetual search for salvation, which runs throughout his entire work, while at the same time taking significantly different forms.\ud I argue in this dissertation that Dylan’s search for salvation takes place within a distinct range of different contexts, which include the longing for social salvation, the striving towards individual fulfilment, the desire for salvation through romantic relationships, and the constant journey towards an idealized place that will bring about a sense of salvation and redemption, while at the same time the idea of religious salvation in a more general sense can also be seen as hovering over all of these more specific contexts. \ud I aim to demonstrate that Dylan’s search for salvation has a strongly utopian character, a search for something characterized by hope, but which, however close it might seem to be, is nevertheless not achieved in reality. Drawing on approaches derived in part from the critical theorist Ernst Bloch and also on more recent writers on the concept of Utopia, I argue that it is through this utopian dimension that Dylan’s work also functions as critique. Dylan, in showing the world’s situation as it should be shows us simultaneously the way it actually is, and it is the gulf between these two that functions as critique.\u

Year: 2011
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Provided by: Durham e-Theses

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  1. (2002). A Principle of Hope: Recorded Music, Listening Practices and the Immanence of Utopia’ in Geografiska Annaler. Series B, Human Geography (84/3,4, Special Issue: The Dialectics of Utopia and Dystopia, doi

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