This is an infuriating and yet thoroughly admirable book that will give the Indian reader a confidence about what our languages need most-a sense of piety towards our own cultural environments. That is what the author wants everyone to do, at least paradoxically, a search for an alternate tradition which opens within ourselves, preserving even now the history, orality, living traditions and folklore. Desivad naturally negates any imagined space that oppresses the real and aggressively asserts what was otherwise relegated, during the dark phase of colonialism, to one’s native cultural heritage.
A landmark in Indian critical theory, discussed all over the country from 1980, desivad aspires to be a nationwide movement to counterbalance the homogenizing and hegemonizing effects of a few cultures of nationalism, globalization, internationalism and so on.
The four lectures delivered at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study have caused an intellectual stimulation of a rare sot and a whose new approach to literary criticism.
Bhalchandra Nemade, distinguished Marathi poet, novelist and critic, taught Marathi, English and Linguistics at several places including Marathwada University, Aurangabad, The School of Oriental and African Studies, London and Goa University. He retired from the Gurudev Tagore Chair of Comparative Literature at the University of Mumbai in 1998. he was honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1991.
Nemade is known to say unexpected, revealing and illuminating things in memorable terms, avoiding any jargon. It exemplifies the penetrating mind and questioning spirit which was the characteristic of our tradition.
He is presently National Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla.
The four lectures, which the book comprises, were delivered at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study in 2007, when I was invited there as a Visiting Professor for a month. It was indeed a privilege to present my views on desivad at the Institute. I could not resist recording the strange feeling of pleasant contrast between the theme of my lectures and the colonial Viceregal Lodge, an Elizabethan structure in which I lectured. For this, I thank Professor Bhalchandra Mungekar, the Chairman of the Institute who was instrumental in extending invitation to me.
The concept of desivad has been vigorously debated in our languages since it was first introduced through English in India, during the early 1980s. If I have apparently failed to elicit proper response of this concept outside Marathi, the fault is entirely mine. The task of preparing again a viable Indian Critical Tradition may not be possible unless all the systems of literature- productive, distributive and consumptive——are originally desi or nativistic. That is what any genuine literature, in essence, is, I believe.
In friendship and with genuine respect, I gratefully acknowledge the debts of two veteran scholars of culture studies who first initiated my views established in Marathi into the wider academic circles of the country and with indispensable seriousness introduced the theory of desivad or nativism in its English translations. First, Professor Makarand Paranjape of the Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, who competently demonstrated the concept in his book: Nativism: Essays in Criticism (Sahitya Academi, New Delhi, 1997), which contains the translation of my Marathi essay "Sahityatil Deshiyata", first published in 1983.
And Professor Ganesh Devi, a renowned author and founder of the Tribal Academi at Tejgadh (Gujarat), whose English translation of my essay on the Marathi novel (used here with slight modification), first presented in Marathi in a seminar in 1980 and the translation was published in his SETU Magazine (Vol. II, No. 1, 1986).
I would like to record my sense of gratitude to the Fellows, Associates, scholar friends, teachers and students who attended my lectures at the IIAS and participated in the debate at the end of each of the lectures, bringing to my notice the innumerable aspects of desivad in the light of our variegated literature.
I also express my heartfelt thanks to Dr. Debarshi Sen, Assistant Publication Officer who was also holding the charge of Academic Resource Officer during my visit to the Institute as a Visiting Professor. I would not have been able to complete the manuscript of the lectures without his quiet generosity during my stay at the Institute.
My thanks are also due to all the staff of the IIAS and the canteen who made my day and night work there a very inspiring and indeed a very pleasant experience.
I fondly thank Professor Peter Ronald deSouza, the Director of the Institute for the interest he has taken in the publication of these lectures.
Children’s Books (474)
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