October 27, 2002
in the face of hunger
M. L. Raina
by Knut Hamsun. Translated from Norwegian by Robert Bly. Noonday
Press, New York. Pages 240. $14.
IN an earlier piece in
these pages I invoked J. M. Coetzee’s remark that a literary
classic is ‘what survives’ changes in the history of taste.
Hamsun’s is one such novel still widely read more than a hundred
years after its first publication in 1890. This latest translation
indicates its power to affect the reader beyond its immediate time
interesting historical narrative
The Mangarh Chronicles
by Gary Worthington. Penguin Books, India. Pages 591. Rs 395.
GARY Worthington has
produced a historical fiction of epic proportions. The novel is not
confined to one period of history. The main story revolves around
the Maharaja of Mangarh, a former princely state in Rajasthan. The
year is 1975, when Emergency has been imposed and political leaders
imprisoned. The Maharaja is also arrested and income tax officials
come searching for his fabulous hidden wealth. Interspersed within
this story are several other stories. These begin with the Indus
Valley town of Kanur and go through different periods of Indian
history. The one thread which links all these tales, sometimes
remotely, is Mangarh.
an eventful life
Punam Khaira Sidhu
From Reserve Bank to Finance Ministry and Beyond: Some Reminiscences
by M. Narasimhan. UBSPD. Pages 189. Rs 395
CAMBRIDGE-Majlis Annual Dinner:
Chief guest High Commissioner Krishna Menon and guest of honour Dr Todd,
professor of chemistry who went on to win the Nobel Prize. Krishna Menon
goes against convention and in his after-dinner speech gives a serious
long account of India’s dams and projects. Dr Todd responds with an
anecdote of a white man and an Australian aborigine. The aborigine was
so impressed with the white man’s gun that he threw away his
boomerang, which on its return felled him.
can hate but not ignore Kant
R. K. Gupta
The Living Thoughts of Kant
by Julian Benda. Rupa, Delhi. Pages 228. Rs 150.
THE present work is part of a
series aimed at presenting living thoughts of various leading thinkers
of the world. Julian Benda (1867-1956), the author of this work, was a
French novelist and philosopher. His other works include The Yoke of
Pity, The Youth of an Intellectual and A Regulator in His
Real Time: Stories and Reminiscence
by Amit Chaudhuri. Picador India. Pages 184. Rs. 395.
IN broad generic terms, both
novel and short story belong to the realm of fiction, but this does not
necessarily mean that a successful novelist would be equally at ease
with writing a short story. The larger canvas of the novel affords room
for building up a sustained narrative. A short story, however, requires
skills of a different kind. The narrative of a short story has to be
taut and precise. Not many situations can be carried together in a short
story; ideally, only one situation corresponds to a short story.
makes Indian culture tick
Indian Culture: A Sociological Study
by Dhurjati Prasad Mukerji, with an introduction by Ashok Mitra. First
published 1948, this reprint, Rupa, Delhi, 2002. Pages 220. Rs 195
DHURJATI Prasad Mukerji, one of
the ancestors of present-day sociology in India, first came out with a
draft of the book under review in 1942, at a time when Indian society
was undergoing a considerable amount of ferment. The war in Europe that
claimed a large number of Indian resources had been going on since 1939.
Wartime shortages had begun to have a negative impact on the quality of
life, such as it was in those days.
home and work
Women & Rural Entrepreneurship in India
edited by D. D. Sharma and S. K. Dhameja. Abhishek Publications,
Chandigarh. Pages 232. Rs 495.
IT is often said that to
understand a civilisation, its excellences and its limitations, one has
to study the history of the position and status of women in it. The
concept of women’s empowerment, thus, carries a lot of significance
and it has always been dependent on the prevailing models of
development. This is what the book under review wants to prove.