Book Review by Namrata
Title: The Doctor and Mrs. A.: Ethics and Counter-Ethics in an Indian Dream Analysis
Author: Sarah Pinto
Publisher: Women Unlimited
Year of Publication: 2019
“How does one remember the future?”
Thus, begins The Doctor and Mrs. A by Sarah Pinto. Based on ethics and counter ethics in an Indian dream analysis, this book is an inspired example of thinking beyond the known.
Just before independence, somewhere in early forties, a young Punjabi woman identified only as Mrs. A decided to be a part of an experiment by a psychiatrist, Dev Satya Nanda, for his new method of dream analysis. Unbeknownst to him, she was in an unhappy marriage with a strong urge for freedom from all the bondage. Through this experiment they discovered hidden layers of her personality which included different reflections on sexuality, trauma, ambitions and marriage. Pinto revisits this conversation and explores it in the context of late colonial Indian society. Juxtaposing the past with the present, she delivers a thought-provoking analysis on gender and power.
The author, Sarah Pinto is a Professor of anthropology at Tufts University and has also authored a few books on women and inequality in contemporary India. She won the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize from the Society of Medical Anthropology for her work Daughters of Parvati: Women and Madness in Contemporary India published in 2012. Read more
By Ratnottama Sengupta
Steven Spielberg’s ET
Satyajit Ray’s Book Travails with the Alien
Sketch by Satyajit Ray, Bonkubabur Bondhu
So much of sci-fi uses science as a starting point and then uses fiction to fill up the gaps in our present knowledge. We use what we know today to imagine a different tomorrow –- a better tomorrow — for the world. Still, sooner rather than later, sci-fi that looks out-dated as science fiction becomes a scientific fact. Don’t we all know that Sage Valmiki wrote in Ramayana of the Pushpak Vimana ( mythical flying chariots in Hindu lore) and the giant bird Jatayu that clashed in mid-space aeons before the Wright Brothers wrote their names into aviation history or before the Central Science Laboratory in UK estimated that worldwide, the cost of bird-strikes to airlines had soared to US$ 1.2 billion annually!
But why does this possibility of fiction becoming a fact excite me? Admittedly because of my association with Me and I, which my father, well-known author and scriptwriter Nabendu Ghosh, had written for his two grandsons, and was translated by my son Devottam Sengupta for his grandpa’s birth centenary. Published by Hachette India, the novel breaks the barriers of space and time. Let me quote from the synopsis to give readers a glimpse of this. “They all had the same question for Mukul: ‘Why didn’t you recognise us? And why did you look so dark?’ Mukul was perplexed. The day had started as any other Sunday morning would, with him going out to meet his aunt, his friends and his mentor Noni Kaku of the Telescope. But when everyone, including his own parents insisted that he was lying about his whereabouts, Mukul had to look around for this imposter. And he found Lukum, who had travelled light years to meet his intergalactic ‘twin.’ Little did Mukul know that he had set out on the longest Sunday of his life…” Read more
(From Open Magazine. Link to the complete article given below)
What does the expression ‘Elysium Bower’ remind you of? I wonder how many people will think of John Keats and Endymion, a poem published by Keats in 1818. One of India’s greatest translators was Manmatha Nath Dutt (Shastri), 1855-1912, who translated from Sanskrit to English and did much more. Chronologically, he translated the Valmiki Ramayana (sequentially from 1892 to 1894), Markandeya Purana (1896), Bhagavata Purana (1896), Vishnu Purana (1896), Hari Vamsha (1897), Mahanirvana Tantra (1900), Agni Purana (1903-04), Mahabharata (1895-1905), Kamandakiya Nitisara (1896), several samhitas anddharmashastra texts (1906, 1908-09), Garuda Purana (1908) and Rig Veda Samhita (1906-1912). Compared to Kishori Mohan Ganguli (the translator of the Mahabharata), Manmatha Nath Dutt was much more prolific. (Ganguli did not translate any of the other texts—not Puranas, not Hari Vamsha, not Valmiki Ramayana). But compared to Manmatha Nath Dutt, Ganguli is much more known, probably because the Ganguli Mahabharata translation is available online, while the Dutt one isn’t. (The language used in the two Mahabharata translations present an interesting contrast, but that’s a different story.) Apart from this remarkable body of translation work, Dutt wrote a biography of the Buddha (1901), retold stories from the Puranas (1893-94, the four volumes titled Gleanings from the Indian Classics), retold stories about famous women in Hinduism (1897), wrote a book on Hindu metaphysics (1904) and wrote another book on the dharma of householders (1905). These were also in English. I have not been able to track down anything by Manmatha Nath Dutt written in Bengali, or in any other language. (In compiling a list of his works, I came across a stray reference to a monograph in Bengali known as Banglar Meye (Women of Bengal), but I am not sure what this was.)
The Ganguli translation was funded and published by Pratap Chandra Roy. Thanks to Pratap Chandra Roy and Pratap Chandra Roy’s wife, we know something about Ganguli. (P. Lal compiled an annotated Mahabharata bibliography in 1967). The negative reference to the Dutt translation in this annotation may also have something to do with Dutt receiving less attention than he deserves.) We know almost nothing about Manmatha Nath Dutt and about this amazingly productive period from 1892 to 1912, a period of 20 years. There is a piece written by Shashi Shekhar in The Pioneer in 2011 and there is a German website with some information. That’s about it.
Read more at this Open link
Benevolent kings and their beauteous queens stroll in palace gardens or verdant forests while loyal servants eavesdrop and evil enemies plot. Meanwhile, marauding armies scale impossibly high walls and are beaten back by animals that can miraculously talk. A courtier outwits his king every single time and a poet brings strong men to their knees with his intelligence.
This complex cast of characters operating in a fantastical world held us in thrall every single issue of Amar Chitra Katha that we devoured eagerly. As the legendary comic brand reaches its 50th year of production, with over 450 titles to its credit and an astounding 100 million copies sold in over 35 languages, like any 50-year-old, it is emerging from its own version of a mid-life crisis.
Although adored by two generations of Indians, in the last 10 years, some of the adulation has been countered by scepticism bordering on outrage about what has been labelled Amar Chitra Katha’s ‘regressive’ content, both in its art and script.
A number of scholarly writings have come up, criticising and condemning the comics for reinforcing stereotypes: women characters are too subservient, caste hierarchy is established by skin colour, with upper caste characters invariably lighter toned, and its religious biases are clear. The controversy has been similar to what the Enid Blyton pantheon faced, forcing it to rethink its golliwogs and dwarves.
Beards and saris
If all this had happened in an Amar Chitra Katha, a single word from the superhero (placed in a spiky speech bubble) would have reduced the grumbling detractors to tiny, powerless creatures to be borne away on a tidal wave of nostalgia and affection. But real life is less forgiving. Thus, recently, when young artists in the comic house’s studios pointed out that there were no women in the crowd scene in a new title on Sardar Patel, Reena Ittyerah Puri, Executive Editor, immediately had it rectified by removing beards and adding saris for some of the crowd.
Indian-American author Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, who had used Draupadi as the narrator for her novel based on the Mahabharata, is now writing a book which is a retelling of the Ramayana from Sita’s point of view.
Writing about women has been very important for the McDavid professor of Creative Writing at the University of Houston and many of her books have women protagonists.
Her latest work “Before We Visit the Goddess”, published by Simon & Schuster, is about three generations of mothers and daughters who discover their greatest source of strength in one another. Read more
Source: The Indian Express
He spotted her immediately. He could not tear his eyes away from her distant figure. Leaning against a roadside tree, she stood out in the thronging crowd on the streets of Mathura. Krishna stared at her for a long, thoughtful minute before he started to move towards her.
‘Where are you going?’ asked Balram, perplexed. He looked at his younger brother, a darker version of himself. ‘We will be late. King Kamsa is waiting to meet us at his palace.’
‘Just a moment…’ replied Krishna, his eyes still seeking the woman. She was still standing near the tree, watching the bustling crowd around her, as if enjoying the street scene. She ignored the young street urchins giggling at her. One attempted to throw a stone at her.
She looked distinctly surprised as she saw a young, dark, handsome boy approach her. He could not be more than seventeen, his face boyish, with a wide, warm smile but there was a quaint air of maturity about him. It was his eyes—smiling yet mocking in their solemnity. He looked eerily familiar but she could not place him. Not that she could have forgotten such a good-looking face, she reflected, feeling a strange emotion rise within her.
‘Do you live here?’ asked Krishna politely, smiling.
For a decade, Indian authors have been capturing readers’ mind space with reinterpretations of mythology. What keeps this genre ticking?: The Hindu
There was a time when bookstores were filled with campus love stories set in IIT and IIM campuses. Chetan Bhagat’s Five Point Someone – What not to do at IIT (2004) spawned many campus capers until readers were fatigued by the genre and the stories had little recall value. Read more
Devdutt Pattanaik, the author of Sita: An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana, on the great epic Ramayana: Tehelka
The story of the Ramayana is simple enough: once upon a time there was a king with three wives and four sons; palace intrigues force the eldest son into exile in the forest where his wife is kidnapped by a demon; he rescues her with the help of monkeys, and returns home to reclaim his throne; eventually he abandons his wife whose sojourn with the demon-king becomes the subject of street gossip. The simplicity is deceptive for the narrative creates a framework to explain key social concepts such as kinship, fidelity, property and self-image, which is why it is retold constantly, each retelling focussing on a particular theme or point of view. My book Sita, for example, evokes the Ramayana by bringing the Goddess to the forefront. Read more
There are no less than 23 Ramayanas in Indo-Persian Literature, writes Rana Safvi in Tehelka
The Ramayana, one of the most ancient and sacred stories of India, was originally composed in Sanskrit by Valmiki and later translated to Awadhi by Tulsidas. However, besides the famous Sanskrit and Hindi versions, there are no less than 23 Ramayanas in Indo-Persian Literature. Some of these were translated from the original Sanskrit, while others were based on the Ramayana of Tulsidas. According to Abul Fazl, these translations were ordered by Emperor Akbar to dispel the fanatical hatred between Hindus and Muslims as he was convinced that it arose only from mutual ignorance.
This statement is as relevant today as it was then for all communities. It is important we read each other’s scriptures and make an effort to understand other religions, cultures and beliefs. Ignorance makes one more susceptible to hatred and propaganda by bigots and fanatics.