Welcome to the course on Indian English Literature!
You must before anything else spend some time reflecting on the importance of Indian English Literature. Why should we study it? It may seem strange that Indian
writing in English continues to be the bone of contention in the Indian literary world even today. Even after some of its writers have won national and international acclaim,
critics in the other Indian languages and many others believe that it is impossible to do creative writing in English since it is an alien language. Its cultural register and
verbal associations are simply inaccessible to us. They maintain that it smacks of colonial elitism and does not address to any specific community in India.
For that matter names like Budha Dev Bose and S.H. Vatsyayan charge it for its ‘primarily urban, middle-class and Western-oriented’ drift and hence a far out cry from
the reality of ‘rural-ethos and native traditions’ Let me also not take shelter under untenable claims like it is the only pan-Indian literature after the hegemony of Sanskrit
and the Persian literatures. Even though there arc quite a few valid reasons to consider Indian English Literature relevant and legitimate -reasons that have come forth
from scholars and writers of this literature, I would want you to tackle this larger question in the context of the significance ‘English’ enjoys in India. Think for a while how
we take it for granted. English has become part of our lives- personal as also official, it is the preferred language of higher education, advertising, marketing, Indian
Parliament, courts, armed forces and the list is unending. Besides English is an international language whose power and use is increasing day by day. It is the ‘lingua
franca’ of the world wide web and Internet and countries like Japan and Germany have taken up cudgels to teach and use English in their countries in order to keep pace
with the IT revolution world wide.
Of course in India the presence and dominance of English is the outcome of several factors-historical, social and political. It relates to the history of colonialism under
the British Crown. Don’t you think English continues to thrive because the countries which use it, are altogether the most powerful in the world today? But before you are
swept off your feet in its eulogy, let me sober you down a bit by saying in Makarand Paranjape’s words “it foregrounds and prblematises this issue better than any other
discipline. Study of Indian English Literature, its inception, growth and its status of pararnountcy is the study of historical cultural and social forces which have shaped
our destiny. It holds key to our identities as Indians”.
Out endeavor is not just to harp upon the extra-literary factors that the issue entails, the quality of the texts itself is a significant factor. The texts embody great
humanistic and cultural values. K. Satchidanandan has, with some risk of simplification, summed up the various legitimate reasons both literary and extra literary put
forward by scholars and writers from Raja Rao and Mulk Raj Anand to Kamla Das. Shashi Deshpande and B. Kachru thus.
One: India is the third largest English-using nation after the USA and UK which has about 35 million users of the language. This is about 5 per cent of India’s population
which is larger than the percentage of the users of certain scheduled languages of the constitution. Two: English has the status of an ‘associate’ official language in the
constitution. Three: It is the state language of four states and of most of the Union territories. Four: India has a large network of English print media with a pan-Indian
circulation and is one of the world’s three major book publishers in English. Five: English happens to be, even if we desire otherwise, the primary language of
inter-regional interaction in India and of course of India’s interaction with the outside world. Six: English is fast getting assimilated into Indian languages while also
assimilating them. India has given English its own cultural identity that has little do to with its Judiac-Christian tradition. Along with the Sanskrit and Persian traditions,
English also has entered India’s linguistic and literary creativity. A common world of concepts, beliefs, rituals, attitudes and even words and phrases is shared, say, by a
Kannada novel like Anantha Murthy’s Samskara and an Indian novel in English Like Raja Rao’s Kanthapura. This is not mere thematic parallelism, experimentation in
English has to be viewed from the point of view of bilingual creativity. Indian English writers bring into the very fabric of their writing a lot of what they have learnt from the
Indian languages they know-rhythms, syntax, concepts, even words. This bilingual creativity is not new to Indian literature; it is very much there in the whole tradition, as
for example in the poets of the Bhakti movement. English in this context, is decolonised through a nativisation of the theme, space and time, a change of canon from the
Western to the Indian, a cohesive use of the -discoursal devices of the other languages of the writer-like native metaphors, similies, proverbs, quotations, speech-acts,
culturally appropriate styles-even transliterations of conversations done in the Indian tongue-and narrative models like Sthalapurana (e.g. Kanthapura) or Nama
(e.g. The Trotter Nama) or Mahabharata (e.g. The Great Indian Novel). Seven: English literature and translations into English of European works have had a profound
impact on Indian creativity in all languages, contributing genres. modes, attitudes, sensibilities and points-of-view. Eight: the charge of elitism can also be levelled
against literatures in other Indian languages. since our people are mostly illiterate and since elitism also consists in the style and technique used and not only in the
language chosen. Nine: To dismiss the 20 per cent of Indians who live in the cities as ‘unreal’ is dishonest: urban reality is also part of the Indian reality and urban
readership is part of the Indian readership. Ten: The best Indian English literary works have as many readers in the country as the best books in Indian languages, and at
times even more.
From Second Part Block Introduction
As you know Indian Fiction in English is the most popular of all forms and has gone ‘transnational with Indian diaspora living in the west and writing beyond nationality.
We hear of Indian English Fiction writers winning the most prestigious international awards and saddled with all kinds of honours. What is significant, however, is that
even in the era of the Postmodern Novel, Indian English writers have not forsaken India.
You must remember that what looks as commendable culmination today had a beginning somewhere. The author, Mulk Raj Anand, we have selected for you is among
The Big Three who helped to lift this form to international status and recognition. The Big Three phrase coined by William Walsh comprises of Mulk Raj Anand (1905), R.
K. Narayan (1906-200 1), and Raja Rao (1909-). You are going to read in greater detail about Narayan and Raja Rao in subsequent Blocks. The three authors have in
their distinctive capacities contributed to the Novels essential assumption, main themes, natural idiom and a distinct Indian sensibility.
Of these three novelists, Mulk Raj Anand is a socially committed novelist. He is completely devoted to the downtrodden-villagers, orphans, untouchables and urban
labourers. There is a strong touch of humanism in his work. We cannot fail but recognise the man behind his writings. We cannot also ignore the politics and
propaganda in his confessional strands and leanings. He has consolidated his creativity as also his position unshakably.
As is our want before taking up a detailed discussion on Untouchable we shall delineate a short history of the Indian English novel to make you familiar with the various
strands in its growth till the turn of the millennium.
This Block consists of six units. Unit One surveys the history of the Indian English Novel. Unit Two looks at life and work of Mulk Raj Anand. Unit Three entails
discussion on title, theme, Plot and characterisation in Untouchable. Unit Four gives you the Picture of a Fragment Nation. Thereafter Unit Five delineates the Gandhian
Influence and finally Unit 6 examines the style of Untouchable.
Questions are provided at the end of each unit for you to focus on your understanding of the Novel. We expect you to read the Novel before you start reading this Block.
From Third Part Introduction
A discussion of Raja Rao’s novel, Kanthapura, is spread over the Five Units of this Block. Unit 1 places Raja Rao in the context of the Indian novel in English, briefly
examining the contribution of two of his major contemporaries — Mulk Raj Anand and R.K. Narayan — assessing his own career and works, and analysing the
influences that shaped his philosophical outlook of life and literature. In Unit 2, we consider the sources of Kanthapura, its historical and political background, the impact
of Gandhian thought on the novel and the form and style of Raja Rao’s English. Thereafter, in Unit 3 we give you an introduction to the village (which is the location of the
novel), the Skeffington Coffee Estate, and examine thematic issues such as caste segregation, and how Moorthy leads the satyagraha in the village.
In Unit 4, while examining the structure and form of Kanthapura, we discuss the narrative technique, Achakka the narrator, the Harikatha element as well
as myth and symbolism that Raja Rao employs in the novel. Finally, in Unit 5, we examine his art of characterization with special emphasis on Moorthy, the women
characters, and some other important figures. After you study the novel and this Block you should be able to answer all the questions that are given at the end of the
From Fourth Part Introduction
It is generally believed that it is in Clear Light of Day that Anita Desai is fully in command of the powers she seems to harness in the service of her fictional
purpose in the earlier as well as the later novels. She excels at the subjective form — personal novel of the middle and younger generation of writers. She depicts
extreme situations arising out of conflicts the conflict between reason and instinct, the will and reality, involvement and detachment. These conflicts focus on the
interplay of the self with others. Amid the flux of empirical reality, the individual relentlessly struggles to attain authentic selfhood. Bipin B. Panigrahi avers that Anita
Desai portrays the existential predicament of the protogonist (Bim in CLD) who “strives to recreate a reality of her own by her immanent faith in her will”. And in doing so
she feels that the freedom of her will is thwarted in the contingency of reality around her.
At the same time as a book rooted in the past, it is a very “literary” book: poetry, music, and art animate several of the major characters. The poetry and music enhance
the quality and meaning of the novel. Indeed, time is treated as an emotional sequence of events. The story is told in the stream — of — consciousness style. For that
matter the four sections of the book have recurring key images, dialogues, objects and phrases which orchestrate the meaning well. Anita Desai weaves together the
public and the private events and does a sympathetic and introspective study of character and relationships. The novel also remains a triumph for her pellucid, personal
We have discussed Clear Light of Day as follows:
Unit 1 Anita Desai: Life, Works and the Language Issue
Unit 2 Clear Light of Day: Themes, Techniques, Time
Unit 3 Political Dimension and Major Characters
Unit 4 Music, Minor Characters
Unit 5 Anita Desai’s Contribution to Indian English Fiction
It will be worth your while to read the text in its entirety before you read this Block. Please make notes as you go along and try to answer the questions that we have
given you at the end of each unit.
Good luck with your work.
From Fifth Part Introduction
When Rushdie first published Midnight’s Children in 1981, no one could have imagined what a turning point it would prove to be for the Indian English Novel.
The sheer energy, the innovations in the English language, form, theme and range of this big novel had a stunning impact. It surprised every reader across the world both
in India and the West. When it won the Booker Prize, it became a bestseller anyway.
Today this novel is regarded as a trendsetter because of the influence it has had on the Indian English novels written ever since. Not only has it influenced novelists but it
has also transformed the way fiction is being written in India now.
If for example you were to compare the post 1980 writers such as Rohinton Mistry, Amitav Ghosh with writers in the pre-1980’s — Raja Rao or R. K. Narayan or Anita
Desai or Arun Joshi you would immediately mark the difference. And the work that has clearly been responsible for the change is Midnight’s Children. So, today
it is regarded as a very important novel. So important that every course on Indian writing in English has to include it. It may be interesting to know that soon after
Midnight’s Children was published and it had been seen by some critics as very influential book, there were a large number of scholars who still doubted its
lasting value. They felt it was like a shining meteor that had blazed across the sky and would in time, die. But that was disproved when Rushdie won the Booker of
Booker’s prize for Midnight’s Children in 1994.
So, you who are students of literature must be wondering on two counts. First, how does one judge the value of a book that has just been published. How does one
evaluate a new writer? Can one or should one wait for the evaluation to come from others? Is there anything special about a new writer that set him apart and above the
others? If so, what could that be? What I mean is, once a novelist is established, it is easy to say so but for any writer to get established it could take a lifetime, or
happen after a writer’s death as in the case of Henry James, the American novelist. Are there no parameters which can help us determine the worth of a just-arrived
writer? And second, how does one decide whether a book is of lasting value? Is it the number of prizes it wins? Shakespeare’s plays never won any prizes. What are
readers looking for in writers they begin to admire and appreciate so much? Since the 1980s, a number of new Indian English novelists have published interesting novels
and quite a few have even won national and international awards. Are we sure that these novelists are important and will last? Can all be considered as major authors?
Some might say that awards are a measure of a novelist’s impact. But is that the only criterion? Can’t awards be manipulated, as some allege? Or, is there something
else, something more fundamental that helps us decide these matters? So, are there any criteria which would help to assess texts of lasting value?
I will answer the second question first by drawing upon the example of Shakespeare since all of you would have studied some work of his. When you study
Shakespearean criticism, you begin to realize that the way Shakespeare was read in his own times was very different from the way he was read in the 18th century or
the way he is read today. Today, it is even possible to read him from a feminist or a post- modern perspective (though neither was available in Shakespeare’s times) and
yet draw substantial meaning and value from his works.
In other words, Shakespeare’s plays are those works that can offer new meanings to readers of different centuries. They possess what Rene Wellek in the Theory of
literature (1976) has called “multivalence”, i.e., despite a changing readership, they have a special value for everyone. This then is the criterion for judging a well-
But what about a criterion for evaluating a new work? Here, I am going to borrow from Victor Shlovsky’s concept of “defamiliarization” as discussed in his essay “Art as
According to Shlovsky, great new books make unfamiliar what is familiar to readers; by using techniques which “obstruct”. Rather than help understanding; they force
the reader to redouble her efforts to perceive its value. Such works draw attention to their strangeness through different literary devices such as word-play, syntax,
metaphor, its etc.
James Joyce’s Ulysses was just such a work and those of you who have read Midnight’s Children, will have noticed that it has all the characteristics of
“defamiliarization”. It conveys the familiar though the unfamiliar, it defies comprehension, it has innovated daringly and it is certainly not an easy book to read. Its highly
imaginative quality, its unconventional word-play, the disarranged syntax and spirited metaphors, its stunning fusion of oral narrative, history, fiction, nonfiction,
journalism, Hindi film songs, fantasy, realism, the stream-of-consciousness make you work hard to understand what the novel is about. So, this rich; multilayered,
complex, episodic, loose and meandering novel well qualifies as a great new work of art.
Midnight’s Children made a great impact when it was published. It still continues to surprise. But whether it is the greatest Indian English novel ever published,
will be proven in time to come; I’ve given you the criterion for that already.
So get set to study this challenging and unusual novel and make up your own mind about its worth. For your help, we’ve provided you a detailed discussion of its major
aspects through six units in this Block.
Unit One introduces you the life of Rushdie, his works and the critical reception of
Midnight’s Children. Unit Two discusses the use of English in Midnight’s Children. Unit Three focuses on its themes. Unit Four examines the technique in
Midnight’s Children. Unit Five throws light on characterization, and Unit Six discusses this novel as a literary event and its influence on the Indian English
Novelists of the 1980s and after.
Through the different Units we have tried to provide you an overview as well as to give you the guidelines on how to read the novel closely. If you complete the exercises,
answer the questions set at the end of each unit and do the essential prescribed reading, you will enjoy your study of Midnight’s Children very much. On this note let me
wish you the very best and hope you enjoy reading the units and the book.
From Sixth Part Introduction
Have you ever thought that in order to really live, we make up stories about ourselves and others and about the personal as well as social past. This way we are turning
our lives into stories. Barbara Hardy, Louis M. Rosenbalt, Wolfgang Isex, Frank Smith and Norman Holland have premised that a narrative is constructed or performed
through a series of interactions at any given moment with self-accumulated and self- correcting impressions which get snowballed upto a point. Barbara Hardy has gone
to the extent of saying that narrative is a ‘primary act of mind’ through which human consciousness operates.
Children are the first recipients of stories. These help them to reckon the world- mother’s, granny’s, folk-tales, radio and television, car stereos and later on teachers,
comics, printed books and even advertisements. All these contribute to the conventions of fiction in terms of a constructed whole with a beginning and an end. We
become used to repetitive patterns called Story Grammars (Bower, 76) Stein and Glenn have experimented with children who were familiar with the story grammar of
their respective cultures. They not only made sense of New Stories from different cultures but also added ‘missing conventional elements’ when they re-told these
Psychologists believe that one holds on to stories to make sense of an otherwise confusing world. We not only learn through stories but also see our way through to
maturity with their help. Therefore, storytelling, story making are integrative in nature and help unite disparate bits of information into a whole which helps sustain the
It is, hard to find a common thread which appeals to us most while reading a story. Of course, we shall discuss issues like content, form, meaning or stylistic devices,
but• it is the effect that the stories produce cm us which is what is important. Anton
Chekhov said that reading a short story is like swallowing a glass of vodka. It hits you in the guts. It changes the way the reader looks at the world (Casterton, 86).
Novels, poems and plays too have an impact but in the short story everything is subordinate to the change.
What is crucial for you, therefore, to understand is the developing response of the reader/interlocutor or the responder in the holistic sense. The effect of stories on us is
comprehensive. The response stories trigger off is not just cognitive, but affective and psychometric at the sametime. The mind invokes previous experiences, relates and
responds to new experiences to shape a universally verifiable world,. This process broadens horizons, cultivates empathy and promotes bridges across time and culture.
Therefore, meaning and significance and value are not to be described externally as qualities of a text or ministrations of experts but as events, experiences of
Such a view rests on you, the respondents, and not on teaching, administering instrumentalities of the experts or the written texts. Therefore, discover yourself by
reading the stories in this Block.
The block consists of six units. The stories discussed are all written by Indian writers writing in English. Unit One looks at the history of short story, basic elements
such as plot, characterisation, atmosphere, narrative techniques, point of view. Unit Two examines two stories of R.K. Narayan: An Astrologer’s Day, Engine
Trouble. Unit Three discusses cultural dualism in the stories of Arun Joshi ‘The only American from Our Village and Manoj Das’s A Trip into the
Jungle. Thereafter in Unit Four we have taken up two stories by women writers Subhadra Sen Gupta’s The Fourth Daughter and Raji Narasimhan’s A Toast
to Herself In Unit Five we examine one story each of Shashi Despande – The Miracle and Gita Harihararn’s Gajar Halwa and help you to understand the broad
concerns of Indian women short story writers. Lastly, Unit six identities essential features of story writing for children by introducing you to the art of Ruskin Bond in his
stories NoRoom for a leopard. Copperfield in the Jungle. And Island of Trees.
From Seventh Part Introduction
Welcome to Block VII of your course on Indian English literature. This Block deals with poetry. We are going to look at selected poems from the very beginnings of
Indian English literature in the early nineteenth century to the present. Admittedly, this is quite a large spectrum to deal with in one Block, over 150 years of literature
and culture. So what we have done is to look at some representative poets and poems.
We have eleven poets in all, starting with Henry Derozio (1809-1831), who is considered the first Indian English poet, and coming up to Keki N. Daruwalla (b. 1937), who
is one of our leading contemporary poets. We shall study two or three poems of each of these poets.
Let me now tell you briefly how I have planned this Block. This will help you organize your own studies. In Unit I, which is the introductory Unit to the whole Block, I
propose to examine some key issues that we should bear in mind when we study Indian English poetry. These issues concern not only how the discipline was formed
and grew, but also how it regards and organizes itself now. I shall be concerned with topics like the identity of Indian English Poetry, the conditions for its growth and
decline, its relationship with the other literary genres, its placement vis a vis other Indian literatures on the one hand and with Western, mostly English literatures on the
other, and so on. We will, also examine questions of periodization and thematics as we will the impact of publishing, media, and the market forces on• this literature.
Here’s a summary of what we’ll do in these units:
Unit No. Subject
1. Background to Indian English Poetry
2 Henry Derozio and Toni Dutt
3 Sri Aurobindo and Sarojini Naidu
4 Nissim Ezekiel and Kamala Das
5 A. K. Ramanujan, R. Parthasarathy, and Arun Kolatkar
6 Keki N. Daruwalla and Jayanta Mahapatra
In each unit, I’ll try to tell you something about the lives of the poets we’re studying. In addition, we shall of course discuss their literary careers, major publications,
themes, techniques, and so on, before concentrating on the selected poems themselves. When it comes to reading and understanding the poems, I shall not only try to
explicate their meanings but also explain to you howl read and relate to these poems.
Before going on to our first Unit, I thought we should spend a few minutes reflecting on the importance of Indian English Poetry. Why should we study it? Is there
anything special about it? A simple, rather obvious, answer would be that we’re studying Indian English Literature in this optional paper and poetry is a part of Indian
English Literature, therefore, we need to study it. But this only begs the larger question of why we should study Indian English Literature at all. So, let me try to tackle
this larger question before speaking of poetry more specifically.
We take English rather for granted today. It has become very much a part of our lives, wherever we may live in India. Several English words have entered Indian
languages; many of the sign boards in our towns and cities are in English; we have a vibrant English press; the Government owned All India Radio and Doordarshan,
both, have several English programmes, including major news bulletins; the presence
of English on the cable TV networks is, of course, even more pronounced; English is also used for a variety of official purposes; it is still used in courts and in
Government documents; it is used in the Indian parliament, along with other Indian languages; it is the preferred language of advertising; it is used by our armed forces; it
is also a major language of education, certainly of higher education. Besides this, English is an international language whose power and spread is increasing day by
day. It is the lingua franca of the World Wide Web or the Internet as it is more commonly called.
All this, I realize, seems rather obvious, but is it? How is it that we are conducting this very dialogue in English, and not in any other language? If you give this a serious
thought, you’ll immediately see how remarkable this widespread use and presence of English is in our lives as Indians. The presence, even the dominance of
• English, then, is not some sort of natural fact, but the outcome of several, powerful historical, social, and political forces. At once, it draws our attention to the
colonization and domination of India, first by the East Indian Company, and then by the British Crown. In other words, the introduction and early spread of the language
•in India recalls to our minds our entire history of colonialism. If its introduction reminds us of colonialism, it stands to reason that it’s continuing spread and demand
today is linked to similar forces today. We may call these the forces of neo-imperialism
or of economic domination, which goes by the name of liberalization and globalization, or of the continued ascendancy of a U.S.-lead coalition of advanced countries over
the rest of the world. In other words, English thrives because the countries which use it, are together the most powerful group in the world today. Of course, we must not
forget that there is a genuine need for an international language in a world, which is a shrinking global village and that English fits the bill more adequately than any other
language. But the spread of English in India has another equally vital reason. One reason that English continues its position of pre-eminence in our national life,
contrary-to the pledges and predictions of the leaders of our freedom struggle, is that a certain class, with deeply entrenched privileges, continues to patronize it. This
class, which occupies the top positions in most government and non-government sectors of the Indian life, is closely identified with English and refuses to give it up.
I admit that we could go on debating the position of English in India for quite a long
time. Indeed, there have been some excellent books on this subject, which I shall include in your list of suggested readings. But I deliberately introduced this subject
here so that you begin to think of it, more specifically, to be aware of the cultural dynamics of the way in which this language functions in India. But what does this have
to do with our course on Indian English Literature, you may ask. Well, to put it directly, Indian English Literature foregrounds and problematises this issue better than
any other discipline. Its very existence is dependent on the complex web of historical, social, and cultural forces, which have shaped the destiny of modem India
Therefore, to understand Indian English Literature is nothing short of trying to understand ourselves, who we are, how did we become this way, and where we might be
heading as a culture. But, you may ask, can’t studying English or American literature do the same for us? I would say, yes, but they do so only indirectly. True, we don’t
study these literatures as if they were foreign literatures. But, yet, we don’t study them, as would native speakers of English either. In other words, even if the British had
never come to India, we might still have studied English literature as we do German, Japanese, Russian or any other foreign language/literature, but we wouldn’t be
studying them the way we do today.. It is only Indian English, then, which is the direct offspring of this encounter, or if you prefer, clash of cultures and civilizations. This
is one reason why studying it is so important. As I said earlier, ii holds the key to our identity as modern Indians.
Another objection that you might raise to this argument is that I have stressed only on non or extra-literary factors so far. True, usually, the entire raison d’être of literary
studies is the quality of the texts involved. At least this has been the principle behind the study of great texts. These texts are supposed to be carriers of culture,
embodiments of great literary quality and thereby of humanistic and cultural values. Studying them, then, is considered both entertaining and edifying. But, this has been
precisely one of the arguments against Indian English Literature. Several critics have alleged that it is impossible to produce really great Indian English Literature
because of some of the inherent limitations of the functional domains of English in India. I have deliberately avoided taking on this kind of stricture. No doubt, there have
been some notable achievements in Indian English literature, but even if there weren’t any, I would argue that this literature is still worth studying for the reasons outlined
above. Of course, that it has a valid and fairly rich tradition is today being more and more widely accepted.
Now a few words about the importance of poetry itself. You know very well how for the last several decades, it is fiction which has dominated Indian English Literature.
The spectacular success of Vikram Seth and Arundhati Roy is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. The fact is that fiction sells better than poetry. The result is that
Indian English poetry is much less studied than fiction. But here is where the literary argument must be re-invoked: the quality of a text can obviously not be judged
solely by the amount of revenue it generates. Poetry as a whole has fared badly in this century the world over. In the face of the onslaught of the mass media of cinema
and TV, literature itself is now relegated to a secondary role in a global world order dominated by audio-visual media. But let us not forget that poetry has always played
a crucial role in the preservation and protection of language and culture because poetry is the purest, most concentrated use of language. Besides the inherent and
intrinsic value of poetry, we also need to bear in mind that for nearly the first hundred years of its existence, it is poetry that has led Indian English Literature. Its first
writers were mostly poets. In fact, fiction did not really emerge as a serious literary genre till the 1930’s.
To sum up, then, Indian English Poetry has a special importance for both literary and extra-literary reasons. The extra-literary reasons are ideological, political, historical,
sociological, and cultural. The literary reasons have to do with both the intrinsic value of poetry and of its historical importance in the present case.
I do hope you enjoy this Block on Indian English Poetry. The wonderful thing about literary studies is that it embraces a wide range of concerns and questions. Of
course, the literary text is our primary concern and thus of prime importance. But the text does not exist in isolation. In fact, it bears a close connection with the society
that produces it. The various forces at play in this larger society or culture, thus, find their reflection in that which happens inside the text. That is why, when you study
the poems in this Block, I would like you to always bear these larger issues in mind. What kind of society are we? How have we become this way? What is our
relationship to our past? How are we related to the West? In a word, what is Indian about these poems and what is English. When you keep such questions in mind, I
hope your studies will not only become more relevant to your daily lives, but more interesting as well.
From the Eight Part
In this final block of your course on Indian English Literature, we will discuss Mahesh Dattani’s play Tara. This is the only Indian English play you are studying in this
course and as you know drama is quite different from the novel and poetry because it is a genre which is performed. There are four units in this block. We will first look at
the history of Indian English drama, and the problems faced by the Indian English dramatists the special challenges that they have to overcome. Then, in the second
unit, we will look at Mahesh Dattani’s dramatic world by discussing his other plays and identifying his major concerns and evolving techniques. In the third unit we will
discuss the plot of Tara, and identify the themes of the play. In the fourth and last unit we will study the techniques that Dattani uses in this play including his use of
language. Thus, at the end of the block, we will be able to understand and appreciate Tara fully and be able to place it in Dattani’s oeuvre. We will also be able to
evaluate Dattani’s contribution to Indian English drama and place him in its history.
You will of course have read Tara before you start on the third unit, but I would appreciate it if you read other plays by Dattani as well. Four of them are available in a
published volume, Final Solutions and Other Plays. His plays have been collected in a single volume called Collected Plays published by Penguin. This
includes his radio plays which were not published earlier. Dattani is a contemporary playwright and it is possible that he may have already written another play by the
time you read this block. It would be of great interest and benefit to you not only to read other plays by Dattani, but also to watch his plays in performance. In any case,
watch whatever plays you can and read as many plays as you can.
We have also recorded an interview with Dattani on Tara which you can watch at your study centre. In another video Dattani and Mahesh Elkunchwar chat on their plays
and dramatic art. We are providing a transcription of the interview at the end of our discussion on Tara in this Block. This is a first hand account of what Dattani has to
say on Tara and is going to be of immense advantage to you.
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