Meant as this anthology of Indian English prose is for students studying for their Honours examination in English, it includes representative writings by some of the celebrated Indian writers -celebrated not only for their extra-literary attainments but also for their mastery of a variety of English which has come to be christened Indian English. We assume that there is not a reader, however ignorant, in any of the universities of India who is not familiar with these authors, some of whom are now an integral part of Indian political history. These remarks, however, do not imply that there's no God's plenty here. Though Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Gandhi and Radhakrishnan may be grouped together-they are often grouped together-each of them has his own characteristic manner of using his medium and evinces qualities of his mind and personality so distinct from those of the others. This is applicable to the story-tellers as well. They recount stories but each in his own individual style, competent, muscled, vigorous, adroit and perspicuous.
Their inclusion in this anthology has been guided by these inimitable qualities which the discerning reader will find only in the great story-tellers of the West-Maupassant, Chekhov, Henry James, Tolstoy, O'Henry, Somerset Maugham, Lawrence and Huxley, to name only a few out of myriads of master craftsmen of the art of story-telling. Vivekananda's prose, like his personality, is thoroughly instinct with simplicity and evinces an intellect both spiritual and sub-lime. His endeavour to appeal to as many readers as possible determines the quality of his impassioned prose which is often as aphoristic as Seneca's or Lucan's. For prose of a complex kind full of cumulative passion and force, yet, subtly argumentative we shall have to turn to Sri Aurobindo, whose profound scholarship leaves its stamp upon every argument, whatever the subject matter.
To Gandhi goes the credit for simplifying Indian English, for loading every idea with spirituality and for fusing thought with feeling. It is Gandhi's unified sensibility that can amalgamate disparate tendencies: politics and religion, art and science, etc. The very opening lines of his essay reveal the comprehensiveness of his interests and the mastery' with which he brings to bear them on the topic about which he is writing. Gandhi's prose is the prose of conviction and confidence; it is the prose of one who can write with as much ease and facility as any English writer. Rajagopalachari puts forth new ideas in an appropriate garb, imposing though utterly simple. His "buts" and "ifs" exhibit an alertness for which Rajaji has been rightly famous. His prose is revelatory of an acute mind and an exceedingly sharp intellect and preoccupation, both moral and historical.
His accent on the spiritual needs of school children provides the key to his mind and personality. As a prose writer, Radha-krishnan needs no introduction. Gifted with an analytical mind, subtle and scientific, he delights in providing pithy definitions and, before embarking upon a threadbare discussion of his theme, in taking the readers into full confidence. If Jawaharlal Nehru also achieves this purpose, the contributory factors are his utter humility and suavity coupled with his confessional tone and sensitivity. His is the prose of a self-conscious writer deeply involved in his experience and often sounding much too personal. The transparencies of his prose, however, and the limpidity of his ideas cast a spell upon the reader who would pounce upon his writings with uncontrollable avidity. Himself a man of inimitable culture, Nehru writes on culture with the in-sight of a seer and the acumen of a scholar. Nirad C. Chaudhari has recently won notoriety for his diatribes against the intellectuals of the continent of Circe, but say what you will, he is a confident writer, well read, intelligent and mature, a writer whose prose has been hailed as near-English-man's, vigorous and lively, an appropriate vehicle of his iconoclasm.
The essay we have included in this anthology overflows with so many I's and reveals his personal concerns if not his idiosyncrasies. No reader will however miss the learning with which the arguments are buttressed and the prose enlivened. Minoo Masani, whose political and economic commitments are well known, is often literary, allusive and, for the ordinary reader, abstruse. For the learned, he is consummate, adult and often justifiably journalistic. The story tellers, all writers of repute, deal with diverse themes in diverse manners, each embodying his vision in a concrete, narrative form, and exploring an objective correlative for his experience. Since these stories are well known all attempts at their elucidation or evaluation are deemed futile, an exercise likely to affect their appreciation by the reader who must not be allowed to foster any prejudice nor forced to eulogise the authors.
**Content and Sample Pages**
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