***** Glorious 25 years of The Challenge print journal *****


Vol. 25 No. 1 Jan - June 2017

The Swedish Academy has been announcing great names to confer the Nobel Prize in all categories of its practice but the announcement of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2016 awarded to Bob Dylan "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition", can be hailed as a brilliant move. This is the first time that a songwriter, singer, artist, and writer who has been influential in popular music and culture for more than five decades, has been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. This has strengthened the practice of musical genres of folk origins. His most celebrated work dates from the 1960s, when his songs depicted social unrest. His early songs became anthems for the American civil rights and anti-war movements. Letís recite one of Dylanís popular songs, Blowin' in the Wind that poses a series of rhetorical questions about peace, war and freedom. Michael Gray, a critic, suggested that the lyric is an example of Dylan's incorporation of Biblical rhetoric into his own style. The poem reads:

How many roads must a man walk down

Before you call him a man

How many seas must a white dove sail

Before she sleeps in the sand

Yes, 'n' how many times must the cannon balls fly

Before they're forever banned

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, 'n' how many years can a mountain exist

Before it's washed to the sea

Yes, 'n' how many years can some people exist

Before they're allowed to be free

Yes, 'n' how many times can a man turn his head

And pretend that he just doesn't see

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Yes, 'n' how many times must a man look up

Before he can see the sky

Yes, 'n' how many ears must one man have

Before he can hear people cry

Yes, 'n' how many deaths will it take till he knows

That too many people have died

The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind

The answer is blowin' in the wind

Furthermore, Dylan's lyrics chronicle a wide range of political, social, philosophical, and literary influences. They defied existing pop music conventions and appealed to the burgeoning counter-culture.

The most influential singer-songwriter of his era, Bob Dylan demonstrated that rock and roll lyrics, once known for their lightheartedness, could be rich, serious, and meaningful. Combining forms borrowed from folk ballad verse, blues, country and western, and gospel music and techniques gained from French symbolists and beat poets, Dylan revitalized the popular song and inspired other musicians to follow his lead in self-expression. His writings would give impetus to songwriters across the globe who are often unacknowledged and labeled with the tag of thematically non-serious. Dylan has generally treated his critics with derision, stating that they do not understand what he is trying to express.

The lyrical songs connect us with the real self, i.e. soul. It tends to begin the journey inward. And, music associated with songs creates an ambience of pleasant sound that leads us to experience harmony and higher happiness. Dylanís creativity reaches forward in time, toward more modern art forms with something distinctly cinematic which compresses a feature filmís worth of images, locations and encounters into four and a half minutes of bravura storytelling and thus, Dylanís compositions, consciously aspire to the condition of literature.

We congratulate Shri Shankha Ghosh, eminent Bengali poet, critic, essayist for the prestigious Jnanpith Award - 2016 conferred to him. His poetic idiom and experiments with poetic forms mark his greatness as a creative talent.

We are happy to publish the first issue of the twenty-fifth volume of the journal. This is a time to thank all those who stood by the journal and gave a wide acceptance. This is pleasant to express that we could make a new world for research and publication in the areas of art, culture, language and literature. We hope we will continue to do our best.

Heartily yours,
Dr. Manoj Kumar Pathak