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Bob Dylan welcomes 'wonderful' Nobel Prize for literature

Bob Dylan has expressed awe at receiving the Nobel Prize for literature and thanked the Swedish Academy for including him among the "giants" of writing.

Dylan was absent from the award ceremony and banquet in Stockholm, but in remarks read by the US ambassador, he alluded to the debate about whether the award should go to a songwriter.

He said that when Shakespeare wrote Hamlet, he was probably thinking about which actors to pick and where to find a skull.

In his words: "I'm sure the farthest thing from Shakespeare's mind was, 'Is this literature?'."

Dylan said he too focuses on "mundane matters" such as recording in the right key, not on whether his songs are literature.

He thanked the academy for considering the question and "providing such a wonderful answer".

Earlier s inger Patti Smith needed two attempts to get through Dylan's A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall at the ceremony.

The 69-year-old singer-songwriter forgot the lyrics in the second verse and had to pause to regain her composure.

"I apologise. I'm sorry, I'm so nervous," Smith said, asking the orchestra to start again.

The audience at Stockholm's Concert Hall, many dressed in formal attire, clapped to support Smith as she tried again.

She appeared to draw a blank again in the third verse, but only briefly, and then finished the song.

Her performance was to mark Dylan's Nobel Prize. His failure to attend meant that Smith, most famous for her 1975 album Horses and the hit song Because the Night, was attending as his proxy.

The award, announced in October, was the first to be given to a songwriter. Dylan took two weeks to publicly acknowledge the award - which comes with prize money of 870,000 US dollars (£734,000) - leading to one member calling him "impolite and arrogant".

Dylan, 75, wrote to the academy last month to say he had been left "speechless" by the honour, but that other commitments had made it "unfortunately impossible" for him to attend the ceremony.

Meanwhile in Norway, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos accepted the Nobel Peace Prize, saying it helped his country achieve the "impossible dream" of ending a half-century-long civil war.

A smiling Mr Santos received his Nobel diploma and gold medal at a ceremony in Oslo for his efforts to end a conflict that has killed 220,000 people and displaced 8 million.

"Ladies and gentlemen, there is one less war in the world, and it is the war in Colombia," the 65-year-old head of state said, referring to the historic peace deal this year with leftist rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or Farc.

He used his acceptance speech to celebrate the end of the longest-running conflict in the Americas, pay tribute to its victims and call for a strategy shift in a related war - on drug trafficking worldwide.

Just a few years ago, imagining the end of the bloodshed in Colombia "seemed an impossible dream, and for good reason", Mr Santos said, noting that very few Colombians could remember their country at peace.

The initial peace deal was narrowly rejected by Colombian voters in a shock referendum result days before the Nobel Peace Prize announcement in October.

Many believed that ruled out Mr Santos from winning this year's prize, but the Norwegian Nobel Committee "saw things differently", deputy chairwoman Berit Reiss-Andersen said.

"The peace process was in danger of collapsing and needed all the international support it could get," she said in her presentation speech.

A revised deal was approved by Colombia's Congress last week.

Several victims of the conflict attended the prize ceremony, including Ingrid Betancourt, who was held hostage by Farc for six years, and Leyner Palacios, who lost 32 relatives including his parents and three brothers in a Farc mortar attack.

"The Farc has asked for forgiveness for this atrocity, and Leyner, who is now a community leader, has forgiven them," the president said.

AP

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