Tagore and His India


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Today’s needull is rare, very rare. A Noble laureate writing about another laureate. Amartya Sen writes about Rabindranath Tagore, India’s first Nobel laureate.

The profoundly original writer, whose elegant prose and magical poetry Bengali readers know well, is not the sermonizing spiritual guru admired – and then rejected – in London. Tagore was not only an immensely versatile poet; he was also a great short story writer, novelist, playwright, essayist, and composer of songs, as well as a talented painter whose pictures, with their mixture of representation and abstraction, are only now beginning to receive the acclaim that they have long deserved. His essays, moreover, ranged over literature, politics, culture, social change, religious beliefs, philosophical analysis, international relations, and much else. The coincidence of the fiftieth anniversary of Indian independence with the publication of a selection of Tagore’s letters by Cambridge University Press 3, brought Tagore’s ideas and reflections to the fore, which makes it important to examine what kind of leadership in thought and understanding he provided in the Indian subcontinent in the first half of this century.

The complete article

Amartya Sen

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Bob Dylan – Nobel Lecture


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Today’s needull is the acceptance speech of Bob Dylan for his Nobel Prize in Literature. Bob Dylan talks about Moby Dick and All Quiet on the Western Front in detail. He talks about what he saw in these novels and how they influenced him. Reading this speech, I want to give yet another shot at reading Moby Dick.

That’s what songs are too. Our songs are alive in the land of the living. But songs are unlike literature. They’re meant to be sung, not read. The words in Shakespeare’s plays were meant to be acted on the stage. Just as lyrics in songs are meant to be sung, not read on a page. And I hope some of you get the chance to listen to these lyrics the way they were intended to be heard: in concert or on record or however people are listening to songs these days. I return once again to Homer, who says, “Sing in me, oh Muse, and through me tell the story.”

The complete speech

Bob Dylan

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Stephen King: Why Bob Dylan Deserves the Nobel Prize


There has been a lot of talk about Bob Dylan winning a Nobel for literature. The voices have got shriller since he said he will not be able to make it to the ceremony. Here is another great writer, Stephen King, speaking up on why Dylan deserved the prize:

People complaining about his Nobel either don’t understand or it’s just a plain old case of sour grapes. I’ve seen several literary writers who have turned their noses up at the Dylan thing, like Gary Shteyngart. Well, I’ve got news for you, Gary: There are a lot of deserving writers who have never gotten the Nobel Prize. And Gary Shteyngart will probably be one of them. That’s no reflection on his work. You have to rise to the level of a Faulkner if you’re an American.

My kids listen to Dylan, and so do my grandkids. That’s three generations. That’s real longevity and quality. Most people in pop music are like moths around a bug light; they circle for a while and then there’s a bright flash and they’re gone. Not Dylan.

The complete article

Stephen King – Amazon page

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What happens if Bob Dylan keeps ignoring his Nobel Prize?


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Just the other day, I had posted a needull on how Bob Dylan was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Seems like The Swedish Academy has been unable to contact Bob Dylan about his receipt of the honor. So, what happens now?

So, Bob Dylan can ignore the academy all he likes, but the award is still listed in his name. Whether or not he makes an appearance at the ceremony, and at which we will be invited to give a lecture, he will always be known as the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for literature.

The complete article

Charlotte Runcie — The Telegraph

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I nominated Bob Dylan for the Nobel Prize. You’re welcome.


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So, Bob Dylan has won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Today’s needull is about that exactly.

Examining prize criteria, I learned that Alfred Nobel’s 1895 will specified that in literature the work must be “the most outstanding . . . of an idealistic tendency,” and that “during the preceding year” the honoree must “have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.” Could as much be said about Dylan’s lyrics? Can an icon of popular culture, a “song and dance man,” stand shoulder-to-shoulder with literary giants?  Bobby Zimmerman alongside Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus and Gunter Grass?

For a generation raised in conformity, Dylan validated imagination and independence of thought; his work is emblematic of the creativity of the 1960s in the U.S., and has affected others across the globe. Asked in a Der Spiegel interview if growing up in Germany he had an “American Dream,” German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer replied, “Not an American Dream, but my very own dream of freedom. That was for me the music of Bob Dylan.”

The complete article

Gordon Ball — The Washington Post

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