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.