G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Monday, January 28, 2008

My Letter to NEW Quest on V S Naipaul

"New Quest" is a quarterly journal of participative inquiry into society and culture, launched by the late A.B.Shah. The journal seeks to generate a serious debate on issues ranging across the humanities and social sciences. It also encourages literary contributions in the form of original as well as translated poetry and fiction.

Its hon. editor is Dilip Chitre.

Its latest issue no. 169 July-September 2007 carried my following letter.

Letters to the Editor

Sir,

This refers to "Home truths" by V.S. Naipaul (India Today, September 10, 2007).

As exemplified by his book "India: A Wounded Civilization", Naipaul has understood many facets of our civilization quite well. But his problem, like most Western analysts of India, is that he does not read any native Indian language. That is a big handicap because India's best is expressed in its native languages.

Naipaul has clearly not read Vinoba Bhave's Marathi books. If he had, he probably would have still maintained his view of Bhave as a copycat Mahatma, but would have uttered a few nice words for Bhave as a writer. He would have realized why, along with the saint-poets, Vinoba is a rare 'best-selling' author in Marathi.

Naipaul says "(In India) literary criticism is still hardly known as an art". This is far from the truth. He should take the trouble to read Dilip Chitre's book on Tukaram ("Punha Tukaram", which is also available in English), Durga Bhagwat's commentary on the Mahabharata ("Vyas Parva”) or M.V. Dhond's criticism of B.S. Mardhekar's poetry.

Naipaul says that “Indian writers, to speak generally, seem to know only about their own families and their places of work". This may be true of R.K. Narayan or Vikram Seth but certainly not of Bhau Padhye, the original chronicler of Bombay (long before Vikram Chandra) in all its colours.

I agree with Naipaul that he is getting on. And like most old people he has nothing new to say.

Sincerely,

Aniruddha G. Kulkarni
Pune, India