The Tribune - Spectrum

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Reflections on reflection
M.L. Raina

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 (paperback).

N 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
Politics of misrepresentation
Shelley Walia

by Mike Cormack. B.T. Batsford Ltd, London. Pages 109. 'A3 8.99

DEOLOGY 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 ideas.

A cultural movement needed to counter communalism
D.R. Chaudhry

An Agenda for Cultural Action and Other Essays.
by K.N. Panikar. Three Essays Press, New Delhi. Pages XII+104. Rs. 250.

. 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.

Tackling motherhood single-handed
Nishi Malhotra

Hometruths: Stories of Single Mothers
by Deepti Priya Mehrotra
Penguin, New Delhi. Pages 260. Rs 250

HIS 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.

Troubled lives, turbulent times
Aditya Sharma

Waiting for Rain
by Sirshendu Mukhopadhyay. Translated from the Bengali by Nilanjan Bhattacharya. Penguin Books. Pages 217. Rs 250.

UST 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
Raj through the eyes of British novelists
Darshan Singh Maini
NDIA, 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.

Analysing alternative water resources
Santosh Kr. Singh

Water, Perspectives, Issues, Concerns
by Ramaswamy R. Iyer. Sage, New Delhi. Pages 368. Rs 550.

HE 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.


Regional writings
Stories from the heart of Orissa
Parbina Rashid

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.

HE 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 backdrops.

Classics to set your pulse racing
Pankaj Vasudeva

Great Detective Stories
Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 145. Rs 70

YSTERY 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.

Short takes
The 32 years that left a stamp for centuries
Jaswant Singh

Adi Sankaracharya: The Voice of Vedanta
by Sridevi Rao. Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 63. Rs 195.

HIS 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.

  • Kazi Nazrul Islam: Freedom’s Poet
    by Sumanta Sen. Rupa, New Delhi. Pages 72. Rs 195.