Amerindian Roots of Bob Dylan’s Poetry

Abstract

In an application of both the findings and the methods of structural anthropology as laid out in the works of Claude Lévi-Strauss and pursued in the works of Désveaux, this article seeks to account for traces of Amerindian folklore as source material in the writings of Bob Dylan. These influences are discussed in terms of some thematic and poetic images specific to Amerindian traditions, a conception of relationships between the sexes, and an eschatological design in which paradise is not situated in a differentiated time but in a parallel space—an outlook similar to many Amerindian worldviews. These influences are also interpreted with respect to style, borrowing the notion of cognitive style as defined by Elaine Jahner. As a conclusion, the author poses the question of transmission, considering emanations from learned culture as well as those from popular culture as possible channels of influences on Bob Dylan’s writings.

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