Sunday, April 3, 2011

From ‘The Big Book Shelf’ - Sunil Sethi in conversation with 30 famous writers

‘The trouble with opportunities is not that they don’t come,’ the English writer E.M. Forster once observed. ‘It is that they are not punctual’

….. the poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz: ‘Lambi hai gham ki raat magar raat hi toh hai (Long is the sorrowful night, but a night is all it is).’

This is an English translation of Milosz, who says to a ruler:

You who wronged a simple man
Bursting into laughter at the crime,
And kept a pack of fools around you
To mix good and evil, to blur the line,

Though everyone bowed down before you,
Saying virtue and wisdom lit your way,
Striking gold medals in your honour,
Glad to have survived another day,

Do not feel safe. The poet remembers.
You can kill one, but another is born.
The words are written down, the deed, the date

Salman Rushdie: There is a very beautiful passage in a novel of Saul Bellow’s that I have always taken as a kind of text. It is in The Dean’s December …… it is winter …… and he hears ………. In the distance: a dog barking. Bellow wonderfully has his character imagine that what the dog is doing is protesting about the limits of dog experience; he imagines that the dog is saying, ‘For God’s sake, open the universe a little more.’ A beautiful phrase, I have always thought that it is the artist’s job to open the universe a little more and that is what I tried to do.

Khushwant Singh: Ghalib is my favourite, and my favourite lines are about himself, Asadullah Khan, ageing and he joy of life ebbing from him. ……..

Woh badah-e-shabana ki sarmastiyan kahan
Uthiye, ke bas ab ki lazzat-e-khwab-e-sehar gayi
Maara zamaane ne Asadullah Khan tumhe
Woh walwale kahan, woh jawaani kidhar gayi?

(What happened to those nights of intoxicated ecstasy?
Arise, for the sweet dream of morning has gone.
Time and age have beaten you, Asadullah Khan,
Where has the effervescence of youth gone?)

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