The first questionable phrase that Greenman noted was when a "Quaker pacifist priest" tells Captain Ahab's third mate, Flask, "Some men who receive injuries are led to God, others are led to bitterness".
Dylan rocked up wearing a black hoodie to accept the award, which probably wasn't an unbelievable show of enthusiasm to start with, and it seems he's put as little effort as possible into his lecture too, if Slate is to be believed. There is no line like this in Herman Melville's novel, but SparkNotes' character list does describe the preacher as "someone whose trials have led him toward God rather than bitterness".
It was then, following this revelation, that author and historian Andrea Pitzer expanded on Greenman's investigation, concluding, "I soon discovered that the Moby-Dick line Dylan dreamed up last week seems to be cobbled together out of phrases on the website SparkNotes, the online equivalent of CliffsNotes". A representative of the singer-songwriter did not respond to a request for comment.
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Dylan recorded the 26-minute lecture in Los Angeles and provided it to the Swedish Academy, which called it "extraordinary" and "eloquent" in a June 5 news release. As she points out, Dylan has been accused of plagiarism before; his 2001 album Love and Theft allegedly pulled from Junichi Saga's book Confessions of a Yakuza and Henry Timrod's Civil War poetry. "They're meant to be sung, not read", Dylan said in the speech that cited Buddy Holly and "The Odyssey" among his inspirations.
However, whether Bob Dylan lifted lines from SparkNotes intentionally or not, the former would not be entirely uncharacteristic for the musician who has long made clear his stance on the legitimacy of stealing for art, particularly considering that Dylan has frequently covered a great range of classic tunes and made them his own.
Some of the "quotes" given by Dylan do not appear in the books. The lecture is required for the victor to collect $922,000 in prize money. For what it's worth, the speech went over like gangbusters with the Swedish Academy, whose spokesperson calls it "beautiful" and "rhetorically complete".