Changing Pattern
Vinay Dharwadker
WINTER POEM by Keki N. Daruwalla Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1981, 76 pp., 25.00
May-June 1981, volume 5, No 5/6

In September 1968, the need for an Introduction to his collection of essays and reviews persuaded David McCut­chion to examine the state of the critic­ism of Indian writing in English. His assessment was characteristically res­trained but exacting: ‘the critical tradi­tion in India is weak,’, ‘Lack of critical, especially self-critical discrimination is certainly a feature of this situation’, ‘on the one hand it (takes) the form of dis­missive contempt … on the other of committed praise’. Around June 1980, a lesser obligation provoked Arvind Krishna Mehrotra into examining the stage of the criticism of Indian English writing; his stance was, also characteris­tically, aggressive and unsparing: ‘The Indian writer in English is not the ham’s best friend. He avoids the witness-box, he does not walk down the road to ins­pect a neighbour’s farm, he neither ex­presses disappointment at the poor crop nor joy at the abundance. The inquisitive reader is then left with V.A. Shahane and C.D. Narasimhaiah for his guides and their opinions, like those of any hanger­on, are dispensable’ (Chandrabhaga 3).

Continue reading this review