The Liminal in a Diptych: A Study of Roots and the Ruminant in Bob Dylan and Kabir Suman

Amlan Baisya1 & Dibyakusum Ray2

1Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, NIT Silchar. Orcid: 0000-0002-5966-1108. Email:

2Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, NIT Silchar. Orcid id: 0000-0002-9537-3277. Email:

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.s05

Received March 4, 2017; Revised on June 2, Accepted June 12, 2017; Published June 15, 2017.


This paper compares two certain sections in the musical career of Bob Dylan and Kabir Suman to look at a possible ideological heredity–1963-65 | 1993-97– these two timelines had established Dylan and Suman in their iconic status. My argument is that there is a liminal tradition– in four separate lyrics by the two composers– that transcends their geo-temporal boundaries. Dylan’s four songs—“Blowin’ in the Wind”, “Tambourine Man”, “Farewell Angelina”, “All I Really Want to Do” have been spiritually translated by Suman in the early to  mid 90s, when he was most productive musically. These songs, amongst others, not only established Suman as an avant garde musician but also seamlessly merged with his own vision of anti-establishment and non-belonging. Dylan was writing against the imperialist capital, Suman was writing against the parliamentary Left—they both assert the same bohemianism before proceeding towards iconic stasis. Dylan, after the 60s turns towards safer, politically inert aesthetics; Suman partially removes himself from music in favor of a fledgling political career. The bohemianism or the perennial non-conformity ends for both. What is the significance of this phase? How liminal are the lyrics divided by language, time and society?

Keywords: Bob Dylan, Kabir Suman, Liminal, Roots, the Other, Translation

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