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Tag: Moby-Dick

The Nobel Dylan

Friday, 9 June, 2017 0 Comments

Bob Dylan has delivered his Nobel Prize for Literature lecture. Finally. The format is audio-video and during the course of its 27 minutes, he talks about his musical and literary influences and then riffs on the differences and similarities between music and literature, from Buddy Holly to Moby Dick to All Quiet on the Western Front to The Odyssey. Snippet:

“If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I’d have to start with Buddy Holly. Buddy died when I was about eighteen and he was twenty-two. From the moment I first heard him, I felt akin. I felt related, like he was an older brother. I even thought I resembled him. Buddy played the music that I loved — the music I grew up on: country western, rock ‘n’ roll, and rhythm and blues. Three separate strands of music that he intertwined and infused into one genre. One brand. And Buddy wrote songs — songs that had beautiful melodies and imaginative verses. And he sang great — sang in more than a few voices. He was the archetype. Everything I wasn’t and wanted to be. I saw him only but once, and that was a few days before he was gone. I had to travel a hundred miles to get to see him play, and I wasn’t disappointed…

…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.'”

Seven short sentences

Friday, 22 May, 2015 0 Comments

In the fiction business, crafting that captivating opening sentence requires a special gift. Some writers have managed it using just three words; others needed more but they still had the knack of making a dozen sound compact. Seven examples:

“Mother died today.” Albert Camus, The Stranger

“Call me Ishmael.” Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

“I am an invisible man.” Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

“The moment one learns English, complications set in.” Felipe Alfau, Chromos

“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

“It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” George Orwell, 1984

“The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” L. P. Hartley, The Go-Between