The Way They Were

There is something strangely appropriate about Anjolie Ela Menon’s painting which is featured on the cover of Mrs. Baig’s book. A female, oddly nun-like, with a portrait on her lap, and another on a locket, stands framed in a window, seeing through shut eyes. Mrs. Baig is, of course, far less detached in her observa¬tions on the people she has known but she is at a secluded distance when she writes.

The Making of a Genius

Premchand had gained national and inter¬national recognition as a great short story writer long before he died in 1936. The translations of his works, apart from being published in almost all the regional languages of India had also come out in Russian and Japanese. That Penguin has included a collection of Premchand’s short stories in its first batch of books to be published in India is a fitting tribute to a literary genius whose works revolutionized fiction-writing both in Hindi and Urdu.

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This publication is valuable in as much as it contains not only an English translation of some of Manto’s stories but also has a critical appreciation of Manto as a writer. Part I contains an account of Manto’s life, an assessment of his contribution to short story writing and a critical apprecia¬tion of his literary efforts. Part II has seventeen of his stories translated into English by Tahira Naqvi including the well-known ‘Toba Tek Singh’, ‘Kaali Shalwar’, and ‘Mozel’.

Exotic Lyricism

Urdu poets denominated ‘ as ‘progressive poets’ are generally loud and declaratory. Faiz Ahmad Faiz on the other hand was mellow and soft spoken inspite of being avowedly leftist and ‘progressive’. He belonged to the great tradition of Urdu poetry as represented by Mir, Ghalib and Iqbal. He had the distinction of employ¬ing all the artifices of classical lyrical Urdu poetry and yet developing into a modern Urdu poet of vast allusive charm with an aura of ideological commitment around him.

The Flamboyant Muse

First, the times. Clearly, the Mughal empire bad declined and was now in decay. The British had firmly established their control over Delhi. The Mughal emperor enjoyed titular authority, and all executive action was taken in his name. But he was, more exactly, a British pen¬sioner, and effective power had unques¬tionably passed into British hands. And yet, the Mughal emperor remained the fount of political legitimacy.

A Dream is A Dream

A book by a well-known journalist is bound to arouse extensive interest and India between Dream and Reality comes in this category. It is an attempt to make an assessment of present-day India in relation to its ancient as well as its recent past. The task may be an exciting one, but it is also somewhat elusive if its purpose is, as it seems to be in this book, to show how the present has failed to sustain its past, for every revolution is a revolt against the past and India which has a long history has seen quite a few.

Decades Of Independence

The book is a collection of papers pre¬sented at a seminar. The objective is an important one, of growing concern to ex¬pert and layman alike. The contributors include economists, scientists, a historian, a women’s rights activist, a media person, a jurist (who however does not, here, deal with juridical matters) and writers. It is in the nature of the very wide subject that every aspect of our national life can¬not be covered.

A Life At Many Levels

Malcolm Muggeridge’s Life of Christ contains this statement of windowpane transparency:
Christ’s mother, Mary, conceived him out of. wedlock…

The sentence dispels, deftly but simply, the coyness with which narrations down the ages have veiled that unself-conscious provenance in a Bethlehem manger. Dr. S. Gopal’s absorbing biography of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan commences, similarly, with a paragraph of refreshing candour: