A SECOND LOOK

I first saw Badal Sircar’s Procession early in the seven¬ties, in a grimy suburban hall in Bombay; and it was so good that it nearly made me ill. I found it difficult to walk back to the bus-stop and fling myself into a moving bus, being hampered as I was by a kind of divine glow. I could think of no other Indian writer who had so acutely depicted the existential des¬pair which was, to us at that time, the only emotion possible.

IMPLICIT OPTIMISM

Publishing is perhaps the first refuge of a lapsed acade¬mic. If you want to stick aro¬und books without either being able to write them or effectively teach them, the next best thing is probably to try and sniff them out and rewrite them for other people. T.S. Eliot’s notion that literary criticism sometimes satisfies suppressed creative desires in critics is even truer if applied to publi-shers as creators of books: once the manuscript is with a publisher it becomes his baby, the child’s real mother being rendered very patient in the hands of a midwife quite often insensitive to the groaning parent.

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This is a disappointing anthology. It is not a histori¬cally comprehensive collection where all the important and not-so-important poets of past and present are included, making the work serve as a re¬ference book as well as a liter¬ary treasury. Here the editor attempts to trace the develop¬ment of Indo-Anglian poetry from its beginnings to the pre¬sent day by selecting a number of representative poets with their characteristic work.

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This book, Richard Brautigan’s latest, is not the best introduction to an author who has been described as a man who has revolutionized the form of fiction. Just as Jack Kerouac was the guru of the Beat generation, Brautigan is undoubtedly the guru of the hippie generation. Born in 1935 in the American Pacific North-West, he has by now published over twenty books of poetry and prose. His English publishers are Jona¬than Cape but almost all his novels, from the first, A Con¬federate General from Big Sur to the latest, Tokyo-Montana Express, are available in Picador.

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This is the first of a two-volume collection of docu¬ments on India’s foreign policy and relations, covering the period from independence until 1972. As no intention is signified of bringing the documents up to date, in order to cover more immediate deve¬lopments over the last decade, the exercise appears to have been undertaken not so much for the benefit of those engag¬ed in the immediacy of Indian foreign relations and con¬temporary diplomatic chal¬lenges as for those interested in documents of a more dated period.

BOOKS IN BRIEF

Since this is a guide to book publishing, not to book pub¬lishers, either British or others, it has substantial relevance for Indian authors and publishers. In spite of differences, includ¬ing differences of scale, techni¬que, and levels of development, material and moral, it is sur¬prising how similar are situa¬tions and problems in the two countries, and perhaps else¬where also.

AT HOME IN EXILE

This book aims to explore the various forms of adapta¬tion that migrants from the sub-continent have evolved to deal with ‘the varying degrees of prejudices, constraints and dominance’ of their host society. The issues raised in the preface include the choices relating to value change, cul¬tural persistence and cultural change and the impact of these processes on second and third generation immigrants.

MARGINAL MEN

I do not know why Arun Shourie has not acknowledged the important fact that most of the articles collected in this volume first appeared in the Indian Express. In a very real sense, they were made possible because of his unique position in the Express chain. What¬ever may have happened later, the Express and Shourie shared a symbiotic relationship, manifest clearly in the series of advertisements put out by the chain after he had left. I hold no brief for the Express, but the interests of scholarship demand a different set of obligations.

THE OTHER HISTORY

The essays in these two volumes, their editor tells us, are united in their rejection of academic elitism and their acknowledgement of me subal¬terns as makers of their own history. Much previous work in South Asian history has been flawed by an elitist outlook, either of the colonialist or of the bourgeois nationalist variety, and failed to perceive the existence of an autonomous domain of subaltern politics, structurally differentiated from elite politics.