Sunday, July 13, 2003
The Mirror: A History
by Sabine Melchior-Bonnet. Translated from the French by Katharine. H
Jewett. Routledge, London and New York. Pages xi+ 308. $17.95
IN her elegant book, On
Longing, Susan Stewart describes the ways in which everyday objects
are narrated to realise certain versions of our private and public
worlds. The mirror, as one such object, plays a key role in the cultural
practices of different societies.
Off the shelf
by Mike Cormack. B.T. Batsford Ltd, London. Pages 109. 'A3 8.99
IDEOLOGY is the active
collection of social relations and the social production of
meanings; it is the representation a society gives itself in order
to maintain its self-image. The understanding of social and
political structures and the way they impact individual psychologies
has to be understood in terms of language, media and the education
system that operates as a science of ideas. This science of ideas in
the Marxist sense works to bring about distortion of beliefs and
cultural movement needed to counter communalism
An Agenda for Cultural Action and Other Essays.
by K.N. Panikar. Three Essays Press, New Delhi. Pages XII+104. Rs. 250.
K. N. Panikar, a leading
historian and social activist known for taking a bold stand on important
social issues in this book analyses the socio-cultural and political
scenario prevailing in India marked by the twin dangers of communalism
and globalisation. As a consequence, the nature of public discourse in
India has changed.
Hometruths: Stories of Single Mothers
by Deepti Priya Mehrotra
Penguin, New Delhi. Pages 260. Rs 250
THIS is an ambitious book.
It is divided into three parts. The first, titled The Terrain,
is a sweeping introduction to the ‘ground realities’ of single
motherhood. The second has 17 stories (all told in first person) of
single mothers. And the third, Reflections and Insights, holds
a microscope over the already-told stories to examine them in a
sociological context—gender study, sexuality, rights and
alliances, human security, etc.
lives, turbulent times
Waiting for Rain
by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay. Translated from the Bengali by Nilanjan
Bhattacharya. Penguin Books. Pages 217. Rs 250.
JUST as a second-rate
translation can mar a good literary work, a good translation often goes
on to make it a shade better than the original. Sirshendu
Mukhopadhyay’s novel — Waiting for Rain is a fine piece of
translated writing meriting a round of applause for its translator
Nilanjan Bhattacharya. This novel was initially published in Bengali in
1985, but an English translation was not available until recently.
Signs and signatures
the eyes of British novelists
Darshan Singh Maini
INDIA, with all its mysteries,
continued to fascinate and confound several British novelists of the Raj
from Kipling to John Masters. Indeed, nearly all the three novelists
that form the discourse here, finally, take refuge in ambiguities and
ambivalence. The epistemology of the India as seen through British eyes
"troubles their sight", to recall a Yeatsian phrase, and
unable to come to terms with the eternal India which is as much a
geo-political reality as "a state of mind", they tend to fall
back upon cliches and myths spawned by British imperialism.
alternative water resources
Santosh Kr. Singh
Water, Perspectives, Issues, Concerns
by Ramaswamy R. Iyer. Sage, New Delhi. Pages 368. Rs 550.
THE author has been writing
on water-related themes for more than a decade now, and this book is
an outcome of that decade-long research and studies conducted in
this area by him, both as an independent researcher and as member of
high-profile committees and study teams.
the heart of Orissa
Ants, Ghosts and Whispering Trees: An Anthology of Oriya Short Stories
edited and translated by Paul St Pierre, Leelawati Mohapatra and K.K.
Mohapatra. Published by Harper Collins in collaboration with India Today
Group. Pages 299. Rs 295.
THE transition phase of any
society is almost always fascinating. Seeds of new idea germinate, old
values perish and, most of all, the clash of the new and old ideas give
birth to interesting speculations. So it is not without reason that most
short story writers prefer to base their creations against such
to set your pulse racing
Great Detective Stories
Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 145. Rs 70
MYSTERY novels have fascinated
readers of all ages and literary tastes. Be it Arthur Conan Doyle’s
Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot, these characters,
rather detectives, have for ages stimulated the minds of readers, as
they take them into a labyrinth abound with enigma and ambiguity,
clearing the air of uncertainty by bringing to logical conclusion the
most obscure and intriguing of puzzles with gentle ease.
The 32 years
that left a stamp for centuries
Adi Sankaracharya: The Voice of Vedanta
by Sridevi Rao. Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 63. Rs 195.
THIS book tells the story of an
extraordinary personality, a young sanyasi who in his short life
of 32 years became a leading exponent of Advaita Vedanta or non-dualist
Vedanta, which to this day remains the bedrock of Hindu philosophical
thought and the dominant content of the Hindu outlook.