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Song of the North Country: A Midwest Framework to the Songs of Bob Dylan (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 13. Mai 2010

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'From wordplay and pronunciation in the chapter ''And the Language That He Used, '' to the influence of education, politics, religion and the judicial system upon Dylan in 'Bob Dylan's Prairie Populism, ' it might be said there's something for everyone amid these 303 pages.'--Sanford Lakoff

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David Pichaske is Professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. He is the author of many books, several related to rural literature and themes, including Rooted: Six Midwest Writers of Place. He has published on a range of subjects from rock music and American culture to T.S. Eliot and Chaucer. A three-time Fulbright Lecturer to Central Europe and Outer Mongolia, Pichaske is the author of Poland in Transition: 1989-1991. As editor of Spoon River Poetry Press, Pichaske has published Leo Dangel, Bill Holm, Norbert Blei, Linda Hasselstrom, Bill Kloefkorn, and Dave Etter, among significant rural writers. He first published on Dylan in 1972.

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A sprawling, thorough, learned, and impressive study of Bob Dylan 24. November 2012
Von R. M. Peterson - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
David Pichaske is a Professor of English at Southwest Minnesota State University. He has been writing about Bob Dylan since 1972, and surely he was absorbing Dylan even before then (he was born in 1943, Dylan in 1941). So in a sense, Pichaske spent much of his life writing this book. And it is a prodigious, detailed, and ultimately worthwhile study of the life and work of Bob Dylan.

Pichaske's organizing thesis is that Dylan's Minnesota roots constitute "an important framework * * * for considering his work." Accordingly, Pichaske examines Dylan's early life, his hometown of Hibbing, Minnesota, and the traditions of the Midwest, the Upper Midwest, and the Minnesota Iron Range, and he shows the ways in which all of those are embodied and reflected in the songs of Dylan. And that consideration of Dylan's oeuvre is comprehensive, from 1962 to 2009.

Within that framework, SONG OF THE NORTH COUNTRY is a sprawling, thorough, learned, and impressive study of Dylan. Although it is not overly freighted with the jargon of academia, it is the work of an academic. For example, there are 35 pages of end notes (and don't ignore them, they contain a lot of good material) as well as ten pages of bibliographical references. The book undoubtedly is too detailed, maybe even too hifalutin, for the casual reader or fan who thinks of cultural studies in terms of biographical profiles in the likes of "Rolling Stone". I confess that it was too detailed for me to read every page; I don't care THAT much about Bob Dylan. But for the serious student of Dylan, SONG OF THE NORTH COUNTRY should be a rich and rewarding book.

Moreover, the penumbra of the book reaches well beyond Bob Dylan. Pichaske has a lot to say about the broader ambits of American history and twentieth-century American culture and politics. For example, in the course of his discussion of Dylan's "prairie populism" and how it resonated with the New Left, he observes that the SDS "was in many respects just a sixties reincarnation of old Midwest populism." ("Of course," I said to myself, though that had never occurred to me before.) And he opines that Dylan's tendency to "play East and West as contrasting opposites" reflects "the Minnesota side of a fundamental split in American cultural thinking: what we call the East has a Revolutionary War and a Civil War history and a consciousness of that history; the eastern and central Midwest and South have little Revolutionary War history or consciousness, but a profound lingering sense of the Civil War; the West begins at the north-south line - roughly the Mississippi River - where the Civil War counts for little, if anything, in the daily imagination of the populace, and people west of that line * * * think alike." Somewhat of an overgeneralization, to be sure, but insightful all the same.

SONG OF THE NORTH COUNTRY is not quite a five-star book, unless you are a serous student of Bob Dylan, but it contains enough to make browsing around in it worthwhile. At least that was the case for me.

P.S., in the way of a personal disclosure of sorts: I know the author from fifty-three years ago. His family went to the same church as mine. In fact, his father, who worked at the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, doubled as the back-up minister for our congregation in suburban Philadelphia. The author served as back-up organist for the congregation. I have an enduring memory of him mugging from the organist's bench to make us boys in the youth choir giggle (and get in trouble) during church services. If you should read this, Dave, best personal regards.
Opportunity to learn! 23. März 2014
Von Velma Lashbrook - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
It took me a while to set aside the time to read this book. In fact, it took open heart surgery and cardio rehab to get me on my recumbent bike every day. I chose this as my second book to help pass the time; the first was Bob Dylan by Greil Marcus: Writings 1968-2010 and the third is Sean Wilentz's Bob Dylan in America. I'm obsessed with Bob Dylan and have read over 50 books by and about him by now. Reading more is enough to motivate me to get on that bike every day.

So, after all that Dylan reading, what does this book have to offer? As a Midwesterner and Minnesotan, I've learned a lot about what makes our literature, language, traditions, and politics unique.

I've learned how to use place as a context to understand artistic works. In the chapters of this book, Pichaske answers the following questions and more:
1. Dylan's Songs of the North Country - How do Dylan's songs directly reference or reflect Minnesota places and images?
2. "And the Language That He Used" - How are Dylan's vocabulary, pronunciation, idioms, etc. reflective of Midwestern, Minnesotan, and Iron Range language?
3. Bob Dylan and the Pastoral Tradition - How do Dylan's songs reflect and extend the pastoral traditions of Thoreau, Twain, Cather, Sinclair, etc ?
4. Going Out/Coming Back - How are Dylan's journeys similar to and different from the archetypal epic journeys?
5. Bob Dylan's Prairie Populism - How do Dylan's works reflect prairie populism and the politics of the Range?
6. The Prophet and His Mission - What made Dylan a prophet and how did his mission evolve over time?
"Ain't Talkin'": A Postscript - Is it the end or can we still hope for grace?

As a Dylan fan, I learned much from Pichaske's interpretation of Dylan songs and poems by applying a Midwest framework. Pichaske's deep understanding of Midwest language, authors, and politics made this a very meaningful undertaking.
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