What do Bob Dylan and George Bernard Shaw have in common?
They are the only two people to win both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize.
In 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel prize for Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”, becoming the first songwriter to claim this honour.
After declining the invitation to attend the traditional Nobel Prize banquet and ceremony, where Patti Smith accepted his prize and performed his song “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall”, in April 2017 he delivered his speech. He began by saying “When I received the Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering how exactly my songs related to literature”. Then, he described how the classics he read in school influenced his music, above all: Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick”, Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” and Homer’s “Odyssey”. He concluded his speech acknowledging that “songs are unlike literature. They’re meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer, who says, ‘Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story’.”
He had already won an Oscar in 2000 in the Best Song category for “Things Have Changed” from “Wonder Boys.”
George Bernard Shaw (1856 –1950) won the Nobel prize for literature in 1925 owing to his work which was “… marked by both idealism and humanity, its stimulating satire often being infused with a singular poetic beauty”. He accepted the award, but rejected the monetary prize saying “My readers and my audiences provide me with more than sufficient money for my needs”.
He was awarded the Oscar in 1938 for Best Adapted Screenplay for assisting in a filmed version of his play “Pygmalion.”