Bhagabati Charan Galpamala (Bhagabati Charans Short Stories) is not the first anthology of the short stories of Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi (190843), the founder of Nabajuga Sahitya Samsad (Literary Society of the New Era), the Odia version of the Progressive Writers Movement which had its first convention at Cuttack between 29 November and 6 December 1935.
What does one make of pedestrian prose, a plot devoid of suspense and concerned mainly with the bric-a-brac of the lives of women in a Haveli? Add to this no subtlety to the characterization, no range, no depth and to think of it that it walked away with the Sahitya Akademi award!
Bhisham Sahni had once said, The only novel about Partition is Yashpals Jhootha Sach; everything else is merely a footnote. Surprisingly, however, it has taken almost fifty years for its English translation to come out. Jhootha Sach was originally published in Hindi in two volumes in 1958 and 1960.
There is a view supported by, among others, Salman Rushdie and Amit Chaudhuri that Indian Writing in English is superior to literature produced in regional languages. Obviously this opinion fails to take into account the variety, vigour and sincerity that marks writing in various Indian languages. Punjabi fiction being a case in point.
Before getting into the complexities of analysing or assessing this occultly romantic yarn which self-confessedly was inspired by Russian Jewish writer Anskys (also An-sky, a pseudonym for Shloyme Zanvl Rappoport) play The Dybukk dealing with spirits, it is important to take into consideration the psychology of the novelist who through most part of his life struggled (successfully, though) to traverse the potholed path of narrative diversity that is latent between serious and the not-too-serious, the literary and the populist because this is the key to Krishan Chanders oeuvre which is considerable, and his ideology thats inherently contradictory. He has to his credit 20 novels, 30 collections of short stories, countless radio plays, and several travelogues.
Engels said of Hegel that his ‘principles’ were revolutionary but the conclusions conservative. The inexorable spread of Marxism in the 20th century has resulted in a growing trend among bourgeois social sciences to combat it by turning its progressive principles against their revolutionary thrust.
Selected Short Stories and Plays portrays an era when Indian society was coming to terms with the idea of independence and democracy. It comprises sixteen short stories and seven plays, each depicting the struggle of the characters within, in the scheme of circumstances being paved for development in the modern age. The book includes an enriched glossary explaining terms that have been left unchanged in the original language.
Anyone possessing even a passing familiarity with the Progressive Writers Movement would know Syed Sajjad ZaheerBannay bhai. Zaheer never attained the dizzying heights of fame and acclaim accorded to say, Faiz but that is probably the way he would have preferred it.
All Passion Spent was launched recently in New Delhi by Zubaan in the author’s presence. The exchange with the author that followed was thought provoking and moving, not least because Zaheda Hina chose to speak in Urdu/ Hindustani in response to questions, after a brief reading from the novel.