Sharad Chandra's collection of eleven short stories brings a whiff of fresh air to the Indo-Anglian literary scene. Her deep interest in French Literature led her to a doctoral Comparative Study of Camus and Indian Philosophy and it is plain to see the influence of the French masters in her style and technique. Moliere's irony, existentialist angst and special empathy for the underdog come out very clearly in titles like The Visit, The Deprived and Le Chagrin. At the same time, the stories are firmly placed in the Indian setting and delineate Indian problems.
In The Visit, Chandra slowly and penetratingly analyses the sense of futility and helplessness a dutiful son feels when he is torn by conscience to look after his aged mother.
The Other Class examines the feelings of existential despair of a servant boy who becomes acutely aware of the limitations of his situation, the justice that had been denied to him and the consequent humiliation he had to bear. Le Chagrin delineates the acute remorse felt by a faithful old servant who is replaced by a younger, more efficient nephew he himself unwittingly brings from the village.
Chandra's theme of the luckless protagonist finds another expression in the persona of an eighteen-year-old Rajput bride in The Beast, who finds herself widowed and in the unenviable position of being economically dependent on suspicious in-laws. The inhumanity and cruelty of society at its most bestial is depicted in the first person account of the girl who survives sati.
A quotation from the story No Hubo Remedio could be a comment on Chandra's writing itself. She says of the talented boy artist's drawings : "They were specific incisive portraits of human corruption, of immorality, degeneracy and depravity in character brought to light by a penetrating eye, or they had incriminating exposure of social evils, administrative incompetence, the kind one finds in the works of Moliere, La Fontaine or George Orwell."
Born in 1943, Sharad Chandra has a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature with Camus and Indian Philosophy as her special field. Fond of writing from her student days, she published her first short story in 1960 but took up writing in real earnest while coordinating a University Diploma Course in Creative Writing. She has travelled widely and has participated in several seminars and conferences abroad. Her work on Camus earned her the prestigious Grand Prix du Rayonnement de La Langue Francaise from the Academie Francaise in 1992. Other distinctions include the Best Translator's Award (1993), Writer's Fellowship from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon (1995) and Resident Translator's Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture, France (1996). Equally at home in Hindi and English, Sharad Chandra's poems, short stories and articles have appeared in various Indian and foreign periodicals and anthologies. She has translated several French and Portuguese writers and poets in Hindi.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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