Thursday, July 23, 2009



In my earlier blog I quoted a two and half page excerpt from The Hungry Tide of Amitav Ghosh. Portrayal of some characters by some authors appear to be very similar (not in every respect, of course) to someone very close to us. In this context Piya reminded me of my daughter for her stubborn idealism, never say die attitude. This may not attract many who are after a soft life of affluence and comfort. In the instant case the author did not compromise with cheap ridicule the yearning of those who opt for such lives. Rather, his admiration was quite prominent. That is what attracted me towards these lines.

Those who are devoted to various art forms they are not concerned with a dissertation on political economy. He or she might have sound or unsound political or philosophical ideas and this may or may not affect his or her creative products, literary or otherwise. We saw Beethoven effusive after Napolean’s take over of Austria. This single fact did not lower his greatness. We found Tagore charmed by Mussolini’s fascistic ideas till Rolland removed the spell over him. We know Knut Hamsun was frankly a fascist politically but his creativity was not burdened by that. Nearer home we saw Sarat Chandra lecturing Hindu communalism and at the same time creating wonderful character of Gafur in Mahesh. While discussing Herzen or Shaw Lenin took this dialectical appraisal of creative world. Most of our confusions stem from an obstinate abs olutism. In such a world, to quote Herzen, “we are not doctors, we are the disease.”

I am not highly conversant with Amitav Ghosh’s works. I have heard a lot about him, read only a couple of his books. These were all inspired by the fact of his being an award winning celebrity. I do not have competence to judge him. In fact I feel so far as lives and happenings of estuarine Bengal are concerned Manik Bandopadhya wrote a better book. I mean his Padma Nadir Majhi (the boatman of Padma). Still, I liked Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide for its own qualities. Manik Bandopadhya could have written in English for he was quite competent in English language and literature, or he could have himself translated the book. In the unfortunate narrow confines of those times this did not happen. One more thing. In literary appreciation the reader looks for synchronization and harmony between content and form. A writer may not be able to achieve this always inspite of his best efforts. Manik Bandopadhya died with this anguish.


fleuve-souterrain said...

very well articulated... We know abt Padma Nodir Majhi, a seminal work. Too bad that fashionable English writing had not been the order of the day back then. I don't mean Ghosh does it out of fashion or for that matter I do, as a moderately exposure-gaining poet and writer! But apart from serious writers like Ghosh with singular artistic goals in their minds, one has to admit writing in English is also pretty much a lure of the bucks and quick fame for many out there.

Your impression of the passage you quote earlier is interesting in that it reminds you of me... I have a certain die-hard idealism no doubt but at the same time I have learnt to see the world as a plural entity where Marxism and Socialism exist for me in nuances defining the vast humanity and not just as textbook orders. I am immensely touched.

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