Tag: literature

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.'”


Bob Dylan: The Swedish connection

Friday, 14 October, 2016 0 Comments

Yesterday, Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, shook up the world of highbrow literature by announcing the awarding of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature to Bob Dylan. She seemed pleased with the outcome and there’s another Swede who’s happy with the news: Fredrik Wikingsson. Two years ago, Dylan performed a private four-song set for the Swedish journalist at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, prior to his show later that night at the venue. Wikingsson is a dedicated fan and has written at length about his personal experience with Dylan’s music.

Among the songs Bob Dylan performed for Fredrik Wikingsson were Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill, Chuck Willis’ It’s Too Late (She’s Gone) and Buddy Holly’s Heartbeat.


Ko Un can win

Wednesday, 12 October, 2016 0 Comments

The Samsung catastrophe has made this a very bad week so far for Seoul, but the Nobel Prize in Literature will be awarded tomorrow and, according to Ladbrokes, Ko Un has a 14/1 chance of winning it. The South Korean poet was born on 1 August 1933 and among his works are haiku-like reflections with epigrammatic juxtapositions:

Some say they can recall a thousand years
Some say they have already visited the next thousand years
On a windy day
I am waiting for a bus

Other works, however, are longer. Much longer. There’s his seven-volume epic of the Korean independence movement under Japanese rule, Paektu Mountain, and this is topped by the monumental 30-volume Ten Thousand Lives, which was written during the years 1983–2010 to fulfil a vow Ko Un made during his imprisonment, when he expected to be executed following the coup d’état led by Chun Doo-hwan. If he lived, he swore that every person he had ever met would be remembered with a poem. Ko Un would be a deserving winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, but Japan’s running writer, Haruki Murakami, is our bet at 5/1.


Writer’s block

Wednesday, 14 May, 2014 0 Comments

“All writing problems are psychological problems. Blocks usually stem from the fear of being judged. If you imagine the world listening, you’ll never write a line. That’s why privacy is so important. You should write first drafts as if they will never be shown to anyone.” Erica Jong

“If you get stuck, get away from your desk. Take a walk, take a bath, go to sleep, make a pie, draw, listen to ­music, meditate, exercise; whatever you do, don’t just stick there scowling at the problem. But don’t make telephone calls or go to a party; if you do, other people’s words will pour in where your lost words should be. Open a gap for them, create a space. Be patient.” Hilary Mantel


Writing and reading Europe

Thursday, 8 May, 2014 0 Comments

Can writers help establish a European identity? Or do authors reinforce borders? Is it possible to have a common European literature without a common language? More than 30 writers from 25 countries will debate these questions today and tomorrow in Berlin at a conference titled Is the European Dream Still Alive? Before they ponder these weighty issues, they might give some thought to what Julio Cortázar, the Argentine novelist and short-story writer, had to say about European writing:

“All European writers are ‘slaves of their baptism,’ if I may paraphrase Rimbaud; like it or not, their writing carries baggage from an immense and almost frightening tradition; they accept that tradition or they fight against it, it inhabits them, it is their familiar and their succubus. Why write, if everything has, in a way, already been said? Gide observed sardonically that since nobody listened, everything has to be said again, yet a suspicion of guilt and superfluity leads the European intellectual to the most extreme refinements of his trade and tools, the only way to avoid paths too much traveled. Thus the enthusiasm that greets novelties, the uproar when a writer has succeeded in giving substance to a new slice of the invisible; merely recall symbolism, surrealism, the ‘nouveau roman’: finally something truly new that neither Ronsard, nor Stendahl , nor Proust imagined. For a moment we can put aside our guilt; even the epigones begin too believe they are doing something new. Afterwards, slowly, they begin to feel European again and each writer still has his albatross around his neck.”


Cacti with Alps

Sunday, 23 March, 2014 0 Comments

“It was a fairy-tale world, child-like and funny. Boughs of trees adorned with thick pillows, so fluffy someone must have plumped them up; the ground a series of humps and mounds, beneath which slinking underbrush or outcrops of rock lay hidden; a landscape of crouching, cowering gnomes in droll disguises — it was comic to […]

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His style depends on engorged nouns, not absent adjectives

Friday, 1 June, 2012

“Hemingway is the bullshit-detector of modern literature: every verb earned by toil, every noun inhabited, every adjective deleted, they say, the better to tell you how it was.” So writes Andrew O’Hagan in his review of The Letters of Ernest Hemingway: Vol. I, 1907-22 for the London Review of Books. “Good reporters go hunting for […]

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Guest post: The Pulitzohr Prize

Wednesday, 18 April, 2012

The decision to not award a Pulitzer Prize for fiction this year was followed by widespread disbelief, anger and grief in the world of letters. It also spurred headlines such as “Book lovers react bitterly to no fiction Pulitzer“. Jim Martin, retired pilot, active author and founding member of a European digital publishing venture to […]

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