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Through the Eyes of Tom Joad: Patterns of American Idealism, Bob Dylan, and the Folk Protest Movement

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Bob Dylan's approach to folk music initially appeared compatible with the political outlook of the older left‐wing sponsors of Sing Out ! and Broadside magazines. However, with pre‐World War II attitudes, such sponsors generally viewed folk music as a way to understand or promote the common beliefs and aspirations of entire social groups. Dylan, by contrast, often used songs to focus on the feelings of unique individuals. He also challenged accepted beliefs, and he used symbolism and themes drawn from nature. In all these respects, Dylan's early lyrics and writings reflected an intellectual tradition of American idealism established by Ralph Waldo Emerson and passed down to Dylan primarily through John Steinbeck and Woody Guthrie.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2006

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