The world over, the bureaucracy is fair game for anyone who wants to have a go at it. Very few institutions have been as reviled, jeered at and abused as continuously as the bureaucracy. Not that it is entirely unwarranted, as anyone who has had to go to a Government office and deal with forms or permits knows. And because most people cannot avoid the bureaucracy, a book which rails at it will always be read with interest.
Upon opening this book, the first thing that will no doubt strike the reader is the ambitious aims. It sets itself the not inconsiderable project of defining a ‘new literary theory’ which combines ethics with aesthetics, and represents a break with ‘the traditional approach (to literature) from Aristotle to Heidegger and de Man to Zizek’.
This is an interesting and pioneering addition to the corpus of literature which exists on the family history of the Tagores. Its relevance lies in treating a theme which may be considered taboo to many Bengalis, that of the life of Rathindranath, the only surviving son of Rabindranath, and Rathindranath’s extra-marital friendship with Meera Chattopadhyay, wife of Nirmal Chandra Chattopadhyay, a Professor of Eng-lish at Visva Bharati in the 1940s and 1950s.
Vidya Dehejia who has published two important books, Early Buddhist Rock Temples (1972) and Early Stone Temples of Orissa 91978), is a dedicated scholar of Indian art. But in the present publication she steps down from the high pedestal of specialized scholarship to perform what is a very important task, that of interesting the man in the street in our great heritage.
Mulk Raj Anand’s first novel Untouchable was published in 1935. Anand, then a Bloomsbury intellectual, had written the first draft over a long weekend in 1930: ‘the book poured out like hot lava from the volcano of my crazed imagination’. He revised the book after a short stay with Gandhiji in the Sabarmati Ashram, and returned to London to find a publisher.