January 20, 2021

KITAAB

Connecting Asian writers with global readers

Amartya Sen: The taste of true freedom

1 min read

Amartya Sen still takes his coffee strong and dark. After lunch in the hall at Trinity College in Cambridge, where his portrait – informal, gown-less, but with a sort of halo around it – hangs beside that of the other former Masters, he prepares for our interview with a slug of espresso. At Trinity in the 1950s (the Bengali teenage prodigy had arrived aged 19 from Presidency College, Calcutta in 1953), he learned to appreciate the brew in its even fiercer ristretto form from the great Italian economist Piero Sraffa: the brilliant maverick friend of Gramsci and Wittgenstein, and a fellow of the college for more than four decades. It was Sraffa, he tells me, who later recommended Sen for a prize fellowship with the proposition that “he is the only one of this year’s candidates whom we might in the future regret not having chosen”.

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