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‘The Literates’

It is mentioned that Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (November 30, 1874 – January 24, 1965) was so awestruck and embarrassed after winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 that he did not even visit Stockholm to receive the award. His wife and daughter arrived in the Swedish capital on May 10 that year to receive the award on behalf of the former British Prime Minister, instead. Sir Winston was holding a summit with US President General Dwight David ‘Ike’ Eisenhower (October 14, 1890 – March 28, 1969) on the island of Bermuda at that period of time, in order to ensure global peace.

Sir Winston was serving as an Opposition leader in British Politics in 1953. For him, it was far more important to establish Israel as a nation for the Jews than to receive the Nobel Prize. He used to believe that the establishment of Israel would ensure peace. The Nobel Committee honoured him with the prize not only for writing the history and memoirs of the Second World War, but also for delivering a fiery speech. The Committee clearly stated that the 1953 Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to Sir Winston Churchill “for his mastery of historical and biographical description, as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values“.

Sir Winston Churchill

At a time when the Second World War was going on, Sir Winston delivered a long speech, titled ‘Before the Autumn Leaves Fall’, on June 30, 1943. He mainly talked about German U-boat attacks, the confidence of the British Empire, Nazi Germany and its Fascist ally Italy. The essence of his speech was that it was important to defeat the enemies before the autumn. It is to be noted that the British Statesman and the War Strategist was aware of falling leaves in autumn. He had narrated the violent aggression of Nazi Germany, Japan and Italy, during the speech. At the end, he promised that “we shall never use our weapons in an inhuman or violent manner“. Adolf Hitler, too, used to deliver fiery speeches in Germany; however, he did not mention falling leaves, rather, the Führer concentrated mainly on racial abuse.

The Nobel Committee had considered the speeches of Sir Winston as literary works. In a similar fashion, the Committee awarded American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan (b. May 24, 1941) with the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition“. Sir Winston and Dylan are two different personalities… however, both of them expanded the boundary of the term literature, successfully.

Bob Dylan

Churchill dreamed of winning the Nobel Peace Prize, but he received the Prize for a different reason. Later, he stated: “The roll on which my name has been inscribed represents much that is outstanding in the world’s literature of the Twentieth Century. The judgment of the Swedish Academy is accepted as impartial, authoritative, and sincere throughout the civilised world. I am proud but also, I must admit, awestruck at your decision to include me.” Sir Winston added: “I do hope you are right. I feel we are both running a considerable risk and that I do not deserve it. But I shall have no misgivings if you have none.” It is amazing that Sir Winston, who penned nearly 43 books, was reluctant to be known as an award-winning writer.

In 1900, Sir Winston authored his only major fictional work ‘Savrola: A Tale of the Revolution in Laurania‘. The subject of that work was the formation of a secret committee led by a protesting leader, named Savrola, who did not believe in a tyrannical democracy in his country. It was a story of rebellion, political conspiracy and love. However, neither the Nobel Committee nor Sir Winston mentioned this novel on May 10, 1953. Perhaps, contemporary politicians and authors used to view literature in a different manner.

In British India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru (November 14, 1889 – May 27, 1964) was considered as a great author. A section of critics is of the opinion that Bertrand Arthur William Russell (May 18, 1872 – February 2, 1970) and Nehru are two of the greatest English writers of all time. According to those critics, had Nehru not been a politician, he would have gained similar worldwide fame only for his autobiography, ‘The Discovery of India‘. The autobiography of Mahatma Gandhi (October 2, 1869 – January 30, 1948), ‘The Story of My Experiments with Truth‘, is also a greatly important work.

Nehru & Gandhi (R)

Creations by all these people are considered as valuable pieces of literature, because of the depth of their philosophy of life, style of writing and sense of aesthetics.

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