Tag Archives: Literature

Of the pen, the sword and “the spoken words”

The well known saying, “the pen is mightier than the sword”, has always stood. Though recent times have proved beyond doubt that in the present-day era, the saying needs to be modified to include “the words” i.e. the spoken word. After all, words which command the pen can also lead to the fielding of the swords.

A casual comment. A flurry of exchanges. Heated words. Open air, torrid disagreements. Verbal insults. Hey presto, there comes the hatchets and the swords, all set to action.

The grounds if Hay-on-Wye, Powys, Wales, witnessed an emotional moment at the Hay Festival. Held between May and June, for a period of ten days, as Bill Clinton describes it as “The Woodstock of the mind”, where the great talents of art and literature meet across the globe. Interestingly, this year, it saw the end of a 15-yr old literary feud between the Nobel laureate VS Naipaul and his former protégé Paul Theroux. Aided by the novelist Ian McEwan, the reunion took place in the festival green room and as Theroux said later, “I’ve had an experience with a capital E.” (Source: The Daily Telegraph, The New Indian Express, The Independent)

Ever since, Tolstoy had challenged Turgenev to a duel, the field of literature has witnessed major spats and feuds, wherein writers create words to fight the duels. Amidst, poetry and literature, the battles become a part of the legends of “the contemporary era of literature.” But that’s what makes literature all the more interesting.

Whoever said that writers are boring need to re-phrase their words. After-all once when words are spoken, they are like the wind, you can never catch them back, but the after-effects stay. And then later the words become imprinted in ink, which can never be blotted away, but are archived.

Though personally speaking, I believe that words are a better way to fight duels. You take them in the spirit and leave out the physical acts of violence.  Powerful than the sword, I refrain from saying anything on that line. Personal experience will teach each one about the works of the pen, word and sword.

It’s just that words once said, you can’t take them back but eventually you can or rather, may be given another chance to re-structure around it and offer an apology later. But life, once it gets snuffed out, you can’t give it back.


Hmmm….a boon or a bane

I think I have lost it – the art of reading. No, don’t get me wrong, I am one of those avid readers – nose-in-the-book-all-the-time type, popularly a.k.a “nerd”. Yet, now I really think I have lost it. I am a part of the technology-transition-generation, i.e. growing up with books from the public library, hand-me-down books and oh yes, the neighborhood-borrow-books club. Old ancient looking classics, the Enid Blytons, Brer Rabbit, and the Grimm Fairytales…later the adventure series etc…the books used to have a lot of dog-eared pages and bookmarks were kept, if one could be found. A sunny or rainy afternoon, a glass of orange juice and the books. Some of them, I used to read again and again, too irrresistable. Ah, well those were the days.

Fast forward to present, aside from most of the books being replaced by texts, the public library used to get updated less often. The neighborhood club numbers had dropped. The other hurdle was getting the books. Well, yeah we could place orders via Amazon but hey, the last time I was in a bookstore was like six months ago. And today most of my books – the texts and the novels are all online or on the E-reader; the classy cool compact gadget. Not to forget, blame the rising inflation as well, ’cause e-books are way cheaper and of course less heavier. But I miss the feel of paper, of the marking with pencil, doodling on the last pages. When I feel like re-reading a book, I have to start all over from page 1; it’s not easy to browse through the pages. All the zooming and blurring of words make me feel dizzy. Well, I have no choice but to keep up with technology, but I wonder what will happen when my laptop crashes and I loose all the books, or when my E-reader malfunctions. Guess, it’s a useless wish, that we could go back to those ol’ days of sitting by the fireside, immersed in the pages of a book.