Monday, October 30, 2006

Foreword by Raja Rao

Some books have wonderful forewords. Here is one of them.

Foreword to Raja Rao's Kanthapura by Raja Rao

My publishers have asked me to say a word of explanation.

There is no village in India, however mean, that has not a rich sthala-purana, or legendary history, of its own. Some god or godlike hero has passed by the village – Rama might have rested under this papal-tree, Sita might have dried her clothes, after her bath, on this yellow-stone, or the Mahatma himself, on one of his many pilgrimages through the country, might have slept in this hut, the low one, by the village gate. In this way the past mingles with the present, and the gods mingle with men to make the repertory of your grandmother always bright. One such story from the contemporary annals of my village I have tried to tell.

The telling has not been easy. One has to convey in a language that is not one’s own; the spirit that is one’s own. One has to convey the various shades and omissions of a certain thought-movement that looks maltreated in an alien language. I use the word ‘alien’, yet English is not really an alien language to us. It is the language of our intellectual make-up, like Sanskrit or Persian was before, but not of our emotional make-up. We are all instinctively bilingual, many of us writing in our own language and in English. We cannot write like the English. We should not. We cannot write only as Indians. We have grown to look at the large world as part of us. Our method of expression therefore has to be a dialect which will some day prove to be as distinctive and colorful as the Irish or the American. Time alone will justify it.

After language the next problem is that of style. The tempo of Indian life must be infused into our English expression, even as the tempo of American or Irish life has gone into the making of theirs. We, in India, think quickly, we talk quickly, and when we move we move quickly. There must be something in the sun of India that makes us rush and tumble and run on. And our paths are paths interminable. The Mahabharatha has 214778 verses and the Ramayana 48000. Puranas there are endless and innumerable. We have neither punctuation nor the treacherous ‘ats’ and ‘ons’ to bother us – we tell one interminable tale. Episode follows episode, and when our thoughts stop our breath stops, and we move on to another thought. This was and still is the ordinary style of our story-telling. I have tried to follow it myself in this story.

It may have been told of an evening, when as the dusk falls and through the sudden quiet, lights leap up in house after house, and stretching her bedding on the veranda, a grandmother might have told you, newcomer, the sad tale of her village.

Monday, October 09, 2006

N. Ram hammers Shashi Tharoor

N. Ram writes in his article on R. K. Narayan,
There is a tendency among some lesser writers of Indian origin, the likes of Shashi Tharoor, to denigrate the literary art and achievement of Narayan. Among other things, his vision is held to be "narrow"; his concerns "banal"; the pool of experience and vocabulary he drew from "shallow"; his style "pedestrian," "metronomic," "predictable," "limited and conventional," and "impoverished" (all these adjectives must be credited to a Tharoor column). The birth centenary is perhaps a good occasion to proclaim that there can be no serious question about where Narayan stands in the literary world, especially in relation to his detractors.
Will Shashi Tharoor write something about this in his next week The Hindu column?
Keep watching.
Shashi Tharoor's article referred above is available here.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mozart Praha 2006

Some of our ideas, thoughts, and feelings are forever entwined with a place and its ambience. We can feel a kind of aroma of a particular place in our thoughts. Those personal sensitivities to such fragrances, often, lead to a deeper exploration of ideas, thoughts, and feelings.
Mozart once said, "My Praguers understand me."
He also said, "My orchestra is in Prague."
That was a matter of pride for Praha. Why did he say that? What is the connection between Mozart and Prague? You have to just explore this website for more details.
If anyone wants to explore Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Tirunelveli or Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Madurai, the above website will give a nice outline for how to go about creating such thematic topics.