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."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dilip Chitre and A Theory of Poetry

In September 2005, I wrote to Dilip Chitre:

"I recently came across "The Anxiety of Influence: A Theory of Poetry" by Harold Bloom which you may well know about.

In this Bloom has likened the modern poet to Satan in Milton's 'Paradise Lost'.

Just as Satan fought to assert his individuality by defying the perfection of God, so must the modern poet engage in an Oedipal struggle to define himself in relation to Shakespeare, Dante and other masters.

The effort is ultimately futile because no poet can hope to approach, let alone surpass, the perfection of such forebears. Modern poets are all essentially tragic figures, latecomers.

Bloom's "strong poets" accept the perfection of their predecessors and yet strive to transcend it through various subterfuges, including a subtle misreading of the predecessors' work; only by so doing can modern poets break free of the stultifying influence of the past.

...I realized how well you have explained this in relation to Marathi literature. Surely Keshvsut, Balkavi are probably not even "latecomers" vis-a-vis Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar. And we struggle to define even Mardhekar and Kolatkar - "latecomers" or not even that?..."

Chitre replied:

"Several years ago (1970), I wrote a monograph on Milton for a Gujarati series of books---Parichay Pustakavali.

I interpreted Milton's epic there in relation with Milton's sympathy and support for Oliver Cromwell, suggesting him that Milton's Satan was a puritan republican rising against the very idea of monarchy.

Your letter reminded me of that.

Thank you for your generous words for my introduction to Punha Tukaram..."