By Agence France-Presse
"If someone had ever told me that I had the slightest chance of winning the Nobel Prize, I would have to think that I'd have about the same odds as standing on the moon," said Dylan's speech, which was read out by the US ambassador in Sweden, Azita Raji.
"I'm sorry I can't be with you in person, but please know that I am most definitely with you in spirit and honoured to be receiving such a prestigious prize," he said.
Dylan meanwhile thanked the Swedish Academy that awards the prize for enabling him to see his songs as works of literature.
"Not once have I ever had the time to ask myself, 'Are my songs literature?'" he wrote.
"So, I do thank the Swedish Academy, both for taking the time to consider that very question, and, ultimately, for providing such a wonderful answer."
He said he was "truly beyond words" as he joined the ranks of previous prizewinners such as Rudyard Kipling, George Bernard Shaw and Albert Camus.
Dylan's absence at the gala ceremony due to "pre-existing commitments" had created a stir.
American rock star Patti Smith, a friend of Dylan's, performed his song "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" during the awards ceremony, stumbling after being overcome by nerves. She apologised to the 1,500 guests and resumed singing after warm applause.