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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
This is a modest book that nonetheless breaks a new path in studies of societies on the capitalist periphery. It is a collection of twenty items intended to reveal—as far as possible in their own words how the masses of labouring—people in the Third World survive, resist, protest and impose themselves on their ruling classes.
A lot of noise has been made for quite some time in various quarters on ecological imbala¬nces in general and on forest denudation in particular. But it is only lately that some attention is at last being devot¬ed to the practical questions of the inter-relationship bet¬ween forests and the people. Do people exist for the good of the forests, or the forests for the good of the people?
War has always been a fascinating anthropological problem. A culture’s attitude to war determines in a funda¬mental way its construction of the self and its relation to the other. Defeat in war, or even victory, can virtually generate a crisis in the structure of a society’s categories of percep¬tion. For instance, in recent times, two events have called into question the very basis of modern technocracy as a mode of thought.
Andrew Harvey’s book, an impossible one to classify, is a record of this experience of the stripping away of the dry foliage of the familiar—its universities and books and studies, its complex relationships and exacting demands—till those condi¬tions are created in which ‘the golden wind’ can be revealed. He had felt that these condi¬tions did not exist in the known and crowded landscape of his life—born in Coimbatore, India,
It is only very recently that the popular Hindi film has acquired academic respect¬ability as a subject for scholar¬ly attention. Today, one might call it an almost fashion¬able concern. But this mam¬moth effort mounted by Aruna Vasudev and Philippe Lenglet is to be commended as the first serious attempt, on this scale, to grapple with the phenomenon of the Hindi film —truly a supermarket, a some-thing-for-everybody one-stop-shop, that has given to the vocabulary of Indian English that new and evocative cultural adjective, ‘filmi’.
The decision by the Progress Publishing House to take up the translation of major Soviet literary critics is a very wel¬come one. Recently Viktor Shklovsky’s well-known book on L. Tolstoy appeared in the Indian market, and now we have a work by an eminent Pushkin scholar, Blagoy. This move is all the more welcome as interest in Russian and Soviet literature is on the increase.
Unlike the social sciences, the study of English Literature in India seems likely to dimi¬nish gradually into a waste¬land. While we produce an increasing number of eminent sociologists, historians and economists, our literary critics—with a few notable but little noticed exceptions—are mostly a demoralized or desic¬cated lot.
I have come to the bitter con¬clusion that if Hindi writers are treated like poor relations of English ones, they have only themselves to blame. Why on earth do distinguished Hindi novelists allow their work to be hastily translated into clownish and farcical English? Is it impossible to wait till a reasonable translator comes along? A couple of years ago, Bhisham Sahni’s brilliant novel Tamas was, so to speak, done for in the translation. It is now the turn of Mannu Bhandari’s Aapka Bunty.
Mahadevi Varma occu¬pies a unique position in the world of Hindi letters today. She is almost the solve sur¬vivor of the pre-Independence, the ‘heroic’ generation, a relic from a distant, simpler past—a past remembered with increasing nostalgia as we sink deeper into the mud of the present. The grotesque efflorescence of the national movement still lay in the womb of an ironic future; it was, it appeared to be, it appears to have been, a time of innocence and dreams of possibility.