Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Savitri vs. Savitri

[Like some other recent accounts concerned primarily with western locations, this reversion approaches modernism as an open-ended, still continuing global process rather than as a circumscribed aesthetic superseded by postmodernism.
The space-clearing gestures developed in recent modernist studies offer an enabling theoretical and interpretive context for my discussion of Mohan Rakesh (1925–1972), the iconic post-independence playwright in India's majority language, Hindi, and one of India's leading twentieth century authors, across the spectrum of genres and languages. As a member of the first generation of Indian-language writers whose careers unfolded after political independence in 1947, Rakesh exemplifies many of the larger literary, political, and cultural relations (and ruptures) that are seminal to any discussion of Indian modernism—those between colonial and postcolonial modernities, indigenous traditions and western influences, Indian languages and English, bourgeois-romantic nationalism and ironic individualism, Left ideology and a skeptical humanism, nationalism and cosmopolitanism, center and periphery, village and city. His conscious and unconscious self-fashioning as a postcolonial modernist appears in the wide range of literary and "personal" genres he practiced, including short stories, novels, plays, essays, interviews, conversations, reviews, diaries, and letters. In the specific case of drama, Rakesh's three full-length plays show a radical sensibility working through the matter of the remote historical past as well as the immediate present. Ashadh ka ek din (A Day in Early Autumn, 1958), and Lahron ke rajhans (The Royal Swans on the Waves, 1963) place their historical protagonists—the canonical fifth century Sanskrit poet Kalidasa and the Buddha's stepbrother Nand, respectively—in largely invented actions that underscore the intensely human drama of separation and loss elided in the metanarratives of history. The third play, Adhe adhure (The Unfinished, 1969) returns to the postcolonial urban present to portray the collapse of a middle-class family unable to cope with its declining material circumstances and fractured relationships.
Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker - Mohan Rakesh, Modernism, and the Postcolonial Present
Aparna Dharwadker University of Wisconsin-Madison]

Savitri’s engagement with the other in Adhe adhure resonating the seven facets of syadvad or the seven blind men apprehending an elephant is in stark contrast to Sri Aurobindo's Savitri proclaiming "Once my heart chose and chooses not again." [TNM]

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