Literary Gerontology
Sharmila Kantha
GREY AREAS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF INDIAN FICTION ON AGEING by Ira Raja Oxford University Press, 2010, 253 pp., 695
October 2010, volume 34, No 10

In the Indian ethos, the old occupy a significant place as objects of reverence and respect and as repositories of acquired wisdom. Indian literature too is replete with characters in this age category, representing the preoccupation of the Indian mind with mortality, and the tussle of tradition and modernity. As Ira Raja, who has for the first time brought together a collection of literary works on age in Indian literature in Grey Areas: An Anthology of Indian Fiction on Ageing, points out in her thoughtful introduction, age is now recognized as part of the dimensions of identity construct. ‘Literary gerontology’ has become more complex as it progressed from biological understanding of the ageing process to construction of narratives.Raja diverges from earlier western approaches to literary gerontology to explore the creation and understanding of meaning in the relationship of body, self and society.

Dividing the collection of works into three sections, she has selected a body of literature under the headings of ‘The Allegory of Age’, ‘Re-storying Lives’ and ‘Cultural Narratives’, each of which prioritize different dimensions of the way in which age is presented in Indian literature. Short stories, poems, and drama each find place in the anthology.

Continue reading this review