Like a Complete Unknown
June 19, 2012
192 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4
1 b/w illus.
In Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown, literary scholar and music critic David Yaffe considers Dylan from four perspectives: his complicated relationship to blackness (including his involvement in the civil rights movement and a secret marriage with a black backup singer), the underrated influence of his singing style, his fascinating image in films, and his controversial songwriting methods that have led to charges of plagiarism. Each chapter travels from the 1960s to the present, offering a historical perspective on the many facets of Dylan's life and career, exploring the mystery that surrounds the enigmatic singer and revealing the complete unknown Dylan.
"A Dylan rethought for modern times."—Barry Shank, The Ohio State University
"A song of Dylan's many selves, David Yaffe's stirring, allusive book captures Zimmy's refractory brilliance with verve, wit, and an immense range of reference. As entertaining as it is edifying."—Eric Lott, author of Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class
"David Yaffe’s Bob Dylan: Like a Complete Unknown is beautifully written, and its explorations of the artist’s legendary turnabouts—politically, lyrically, vocally—are original and incisive."—Alice Echols, Professor of English and Gender Studies, University of Southern California
"The best writing on Dylan yet (that's not by Dylan)." —Mark Edmundson, University Professor, University of Virginia
"Exhilarating reading....One finishes the book not with a diminished, but rather a much augmented and far more nuanced appreciation of Dylan’s lifework....The voice is lively, witty, colloquial, endlessly comfortable....Dylan studies now bulks rather large; Yaffe’s book promises to whip the field into a kind of shape."—Kevin J. H. Dettmar, Pomona College, editor of The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan
"Steeped but not drowned in cultural studies, David Yaffe offers fresh and sometimes prickly insight about Bob Dylan's art. Yaffe reads closely and listens hard, and his book will have you saying, 'aha!' again and again."—Sean Wilentz, Sidney and Ruth Lapidus Professor of History, Princeton University, and author of Bob Dylan in America
“…fascinating for obsessives who think they know everything and want to know more.” — Kirkus Reviews
"Mr. Yaffe has excellent chapters . . . approaching at times the intensity of prose poetry."—David Yezzi, The Wall Street Journal
“[P]rovocative perceptions and stylish writing…”—The North Coast Journal
“Yaffe] takes some risks a more established Bob scholar might shy away from . . . and for such fearlessness – and for keeping it all to the point – [he] deserves our gratitude.”—The Montreal Gazette