America a superpower. American literature not supreme!
In any standard anthology of English literature or world literature there is no chapter, not even a honourable mention of American literature! Why? A question that should engage Indian writers in English as well as those who write in Indian languages which have ancient literatures and literary traditions. American literature puts me off easily. on the other hand,even an obscure writer from some unknown geographical space, even in poor translations excite me.Why?I often wondered! America to me is a barren cultural landscape. There is so much money, sponsoring foundations and galleries and nig halls. But no modesty of scale,no striving,no respect for traditions.A cactus might flower,not the rich luxuriant cultural springs would arise out of a desert landscape. America is a migrant society,so many ethnic minorities,the American English is a language of power and governance, business and military might. America has no long history, no long memory, no great literature would come out of such incongrous society. So too Canada, Australia or New Zealand or even South Africa cannot produce great literature.
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How literature shapes nations and peoples? provocation for writing this piece, however, came my way unexpectedly. First, the latest issue of The Economist magazine carried a page in the “Books and Arts” section a brief writeup on The Abbey Theatre, Dublin. For those who may not know anything about this historic institution, the readers of this journal unlikely to know, it is Ireland’s national theatre which on December 27 celebrated its centenary. For me it was more than just news. Wasn’t it founded by W.B.Yeats, the great Irish-born English poet? Yes it was.Abbey Theatre symbolised the revival of Irish nationalism and Irish culture and Yeats lived and made his reputation by not just writing poetry and plays but playing a crucial role in giving Ireland a nationalist identity and also awakening the nationalist spirit in the Irish people, their cultural identity which was their own. There are so many small details about how Yeats came to be associated it raised some curiosities about Yeats’ own life and work.
A country’s or a peoples’ strengths are derived more from their culture than from their politics or economics. Cultures are a very distinctive character of a people. For Indians,our cultural strengths, specially in modern India, are given by our great writers and poets. Max Weber:” a nation is a community of language and literature”. Tagore’s poetry and songs give modern Indian literature and culture a distinctive uniqueness and flavour strength. Likewsie, W.B.Yeats, the great Irish poet symbolises all that was characteristic of Ireland and the Irish people and their Galic culture.
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Every two weeks a language disappears
I read the other day a column by Mr.H.Y.Sharadaprasad,the longtime press secretary to Indira Gandhi.
The title of the article is: what is the future for Indian languages? He was writing about the Kannada language and literature. Kannada language, among the Indian languages, is considered (by Kannada enthusiast at least)as the most vigorous and powerful language.Reasons? It got, among other things, seven Jnanpeeth awards, its literature, prose, poetry, theatre are as active any other language literatures.
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A great French writer philosopher
1964 on October 22, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, but he declined it. In his novels, essays, and palys, Sartre advanced the philosophy of existentialism, arguing that each individual must create meaning for his or her own life, because life itself had no innate meaning. Sartre studied at the elite Ecole Normale Superieure between 1924 and 1929. He met Simone de Beauvoir, who became his lifelong companion, during this time. Sartre became a philosophy professor and taught at Le Havre, Laon, and Paris.
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Which Indian language will have the distinction?
Kannada or Bengali, Malayalam? Tamil has no chance! So too Hindi & others!
As I finished writing on Tagore and Yeats my thoughts turned to contemporary Indian literature.
The Indian language literature. One of my recent preoccupations has been to promote Tamil, my mother tongue, its current literature to reach an all Indian audience, if not an international audience.
The Tamils are very proud people, proud about their 2,000 odd years of ancient literature, Tamil being a classical language on par with Sanskrit and other languages.
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