The present book contains a varied selection of essays ventured upon as exercises in critical evaluation of texts that are relevant in the existent literary context. These essays are certainly not a random pick for each of the works chosen for analysis, whatever be the genre of writing, represents the literature in English produced by the native writers of a particular country. The two major literatures in English are indisputably those of England and America but there are many other countries like Africa, Australia, India and Pakistan whose authors chose to write in English because they felt that English, despite being an alien language, would better verbalize their creative urge and lend itself to an exploration of the immense possibilities therein. Most of the authors taken up for study in this book are those who belong to the fraternity of Indian English writers, namely Mulk Raj Anand, Shashi Deshpande, Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Mahesh Dattani and Manju Kapur. Catering to a revival of interest in the partition of India as a theme in fiction are two essays which deal with the issue. Other write-ups are on works (some in translation) by native writers of hitherto marginalized countries that have now chosen to aggressively assert themselves through their respective literatures.
The book, comprehensive and rich in its contents, is highly informative and would prove an asset to those interested in the diverse manifestations of literature in English. It would be of particular appeal to those who wish to explore the works of Indian English writers of repute.
Reena Mitre is a Senior Reader in the Department of English, Christ Church College, Kanpur. She is a gold medallist who began her career in teaching in 1970 with a two-year span in Lucknow University from where she did her post-graduation in English the same year, topping the list of successful candidates in the University. In 1972 she joined Christ Church College as a Lecturer. She was awarded her M.Phil. Degree in 1982 and did her Ph.D. in 1992, both from Kanpur University.
Dr. Mitra has evinced a keen interest in Indian fiction in English from the days of her post-graduation. She has to her credit a book entitled Indian English Fiction: History as a Mode of Literature and has also produced quality research work on The Indian English Fiction of Bhabani Bhattacharya and Khushwant Singh's ‘Train to Pakistan’ and Manohar Malgonkar’s ‘A Bend in the Ganges’: A Comparative Study. In addition to these, she has presented a number of papers at national seminars and has contributed several articles to books and journals of great repute.
This book offers mainly a collection of papers presented by me at various national seminars and conferences spanning the last decade or so. Some of these papers have already been published in books on particular authors undertaken for analysis or in the proceedings of the respective seminars or conferences but it gives me a singular sense of achievement and joy to see them published all together for they bring back to my mind the academic path traversed by me in the past. The number of essays on Indian writing in English far exceeds those on other literatures in the language for this has been my area of interest from as early as my post-graduation days in Lucknow University in 1970. I was initiated into the then nascent Indian English literature by my teacher, Dr. A.K. Srivastava, who had proposed that for my M.A. dissertation. I work on a thematic study of the fiction of Bhabani Bhattacharya, whose novel, Shadow from Ladakh, had acquired the distinction of winning the Sahitya Akademi Award for 1967. I complied, and thus began my association with Indian writing in English, more specifically fiction.
It is somewhat of a paradox that despite the intensified academic interest shown by scholars in Indian English in the 1960s and 70s, there was no perceptible corresponding spurt in the study of Indian English literature and it attracted little critical attention. Persistence, however, was rewarded and recognition finally came, though belated. Initially, we were looking for the validation of anything written in English to England and subsequently America, where such validation and recognition was slow and unforthcoming. It is to the credit of the linguists of our country that by establishing the separate identity of Indian English, they gave us the linguistic self- respect followed by the final literary acceptance enabling us to evaluate and judge our literature by our own ample criteria. Today, the myth that for a people whose mother tongue is not English there is no room for creative work in the language stands exploded. As established by Bhabani Bhattacharya, the mother tongue may not necessarily be the most appropriate medium of creative expression and, in certain cases, a foreign language may better be able to contain the creative urge. Indian writers, who have chosen English as their medium of utterance, have proved time and again that the choice of a foreign idiom for creative ends does not in any way hamper the realization of their creative endeavours. So have the native writers of other countries like Africa and Australia given convincing evidence of the fact that their country belongs to them by what C.D. Narasimhaiah calls "right of vision" and writing in English only facilitates their expression of their national sensibilities.
The characteristic differences between the writers of two countries stem from the difference in cultures and the terms of discourse are undoubtedly generated by the needs of the culture to which one belongs rather than the imperatives set by a supposedly superior nation with a political and civilization lead. Till about half a century ago, academic interest in literary texts was governed by global aesthetic norms prescribed by the powers that be in the European literary world. All relevant critical discourse till the mid-twentieth century was believed to be emanating from the imperial centre of power alone. After that things changed. With the moribund empire receding to the background not by choice but by circumstantial pressure, the erstwhile marginalized literature found an identity and a voice. The "lingo of lesser breeds" and the "derelict dialects" of Standard English that came to prevail metamorphosed the world of literary discourse into one that thwarted homogenization effectuated by conformity to the one global mode and empowered literature born of what Home Bhabha in The Location of Culture (1994) calls "the affective experience of social marginality."
The challenge for all non-British writers writing in English is the question of adapting an alien language to conform to the native spirit and introducing verbal images that are reminiscent of aboriginal strengths and realities. One cannot, however, in one’s obsession with the various literatures in English emerging today in a big way as pronouncements of their respective national aspirations and perceptions, ignore the primacy of English literature in rendering valuable imaginative experience in the language much before many other literatures found an audible voice.
I do hope that the present selection of essays will be of value to students and teachers of the various literatures in English as most of the texts undertaken for analysis in them are prescribed for study in postgraduate classes in most universities of the country, and in some universities, they are a part of the syllabus for the undergraduates as well.
It now remains for me to record my appreciation of the unfailing support and encouragement that I received from my husband in the completion of this work. My children, too, were always there for me whenever I needed a boost to steer my energies towards concluding this endeavour.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
Item Code: NAS195 Author: Reena Mitra Cover: HARDCOVER Edition: 2005 Publisher: Atlantic Publishers and Distributors Pvt. Ltd. ISBN: 9788123905850 Language: English Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 254 Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.48 Kg