January 2016 ~ All About English Literature

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Saturday, 30 January 2016

English as a World Language

English as a World Language

Language is the medium by which a person communicates his thoughts and feelings to his fellow men. It is the tool, with which he conducts his business in the society. It is a vehicle, by which different subject matters are transmitted. A person must know something of the structure of his language, its position in the world and its relation to other tongues. A language lives in a society so long as people speak it and use it as their native tongue. A language is important because the people who speak it are important -- politically, socially, commercially, economically and culturally. Importance of English language is doubtlessly great.

According to A. C. Baugh, “In the number who speaks it (English Language), is the largest of the Occidental language.” English speaking people constitute merely one tenth of the population of the world. The number is increasing day by day. The English language holds a very prominent position in the world today. It is not merely the language of the English people but it is extensive in different country in Asia, Africa and Oceania and it is the language of the U.S.A, the most powerful nation today. In fact over 350 million speak in this language. If we consider spoken variety of language in terms of comparison we can formulate the following table:
Chinese (Mandarin)
1113 million
350 million
150 million
140 million
95 million
65 million
65 million
50 million
                                This data is taken form Christopher Harris's The Global Tongue.

The cosmopolitan character of the English language is an undoubted asset for it to attain international uses. It holds a very important position in the world for more than one reason. It is not merely the language of English people but spoken daily by several hundreds of millions in four continents. As a matter of fact English language is being used in all the spheres of life, geographically from a tiny island of folk land to the vast land of Australia.

According to Cohen (2000, p.2), the dominance of American popular culture has influenced many young Europeans who aspire to the "unfettered, dynamic, creative culture of California" rather than the "rigidity" of many European societies. Volkwagon in Germany called their car the "new beetle" rather than the German equivalent neuer Kafer because advertisers believed it sounded more "hip". Similarly in Asia, English is associated with the glamour of block-buster movies and the pop industry.

English language is used internationally as “a library language”- through which journals and magazines are written for the purpose of research and higher learning study. The popular print media is infested with the English language as the “lingua franca.”  

The English language possesses a rare vitality and there is not the least doubt about its further popularity. It is hoped that English language someday becomes the only language of the world or at least to the highly civilised portion. The vitality of English language is the mark of growth. Prof R. E Zachrison of the University of Uppsala declares “Among national languages English has the strongest claim. It is spoken regularly by several hundreds of millions in four continents, and is the official governing language of many more. It is taught as a compulsory subject in most of the higher schools in Europe and in numerous schools in Asia. For simplicity of grammar and a cosmopolitan vocabulary, it has no rival among living language.” Its other related virtues like flexibility are highly commendable.

Although English language is classified as a Teutonic language, more than half of its vocabulary is derived from Latin. Some of the borrowing of the language have been directed a great many through French, Greek, Italian, Scandinavian, Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and other prominent languages in the world. The remarkable thing is the assimilation of these heterogeneous elements. Otto Jespersen in his book Growth and Development of English Language put emphasis on the omnivorousness of English language. John Galsworthy, the famous dramatist has remarked, Any impartial scrutiny made at this moment of time must place English at the head of all language...”

According to Crystal, (1987, cited in Pennycook, 1994, p.8) "English is used as an official or semi-official language in over 60 countries…it is the main language of books, newspapers, airports and air traffic control, international business and academic conferences, science, technology, medicine, internet, sports, international competitions, pop music and advertising…". It is the working language of ASEAN, the Asian trade group, and the official language of the European Central Bank, even though none of the member countries has English as its first language (Wallraff 2000, p.3). The extensive economic power of the United States has also influenced many countries to view English as the "key to economic empowerment" (Guardian weekly 2000, p2).

Finally, in a world of rapid technological change and increasing political instability it is difficult to predict what the future may hold. Even today, it is in full vague in the world by its territorial controls, and in near future, let us hope so, it will be the language of the world, since “wish is father to the thought.”


Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Salman Rushdie and his Midnight's Children

Salman Rushdie and his Midnight's Children

Title of the Composition:  Midnight’s Children

Author: Salman Rushdie

Type of work: Novel

Genre: Bildungsroman; satire; farce; magic realism

Language: English

Time and Place Writing: England, late 1970s and early 1980s

Date First Appeared: 1981

Publisher: Penguin Books (Jonathan Cape)

Narrator: Saleem Sinai

Point of View: This novel is narrated in the first person. The narrator is subjective, though he claims omniscience as he speculates on the motives and thoughts of all the major characters

Tone: Urgent; ironic; satirical

Tense: Saleem, age thirty, generally narrates in the present tense. Most of the events he describes, however, occur in the past, at which point Saleem switches to the past tense.

Setting (time):  From 1915 to 1977

Setting (place): India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh

Protagonist: Saleem Sinai

Major Conflict: The battle between Saleem, who represents creation, and his archrival, Shiva, who represents destruction, encapsulates the major conflicts of the novel.

Rising Action: The birth of Parvati and Shiva’s son, which occurs at the same moment that Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declares a State of Emergency.

Climax: Shiva and the army’s destruction of the magicians’ ghetto, where Saleem has been living with his wife and her son

Falling Action: After his home is destroyed and his wife is killed, Saleem is taken to the Widow’s hostel, where heand the rest of the midnight’s children are sterilized.

Themes: The single and the many; truth of memory and narrative; destruction vs. creation

Motifs: Snakes; leaking; fragmentation

Symbols: Silver spittoon; the perforated sheet; knees and nose

Foreshadowing: Ramram’s prophesy of Saleem’s birth; Saleem’s fever induced dream of the Widow.


Salman Rushdie was born on June 19, 1947, to an affluent family in Bombay, India. Rushdie’s birth coincided with a particularly important moment in Indian history: after nearly one hundred years of colonial rule, the British occupation of the South Asian subcontinent was coming to an end. Almost exactly three months after Rushdie’s birth, Pakistan and India achieved their long-awaited independence when, at the stroke of midnight on August 14 and 15, respectively, power was transferred from Great Britain to the sovereign governments of each country. The period that immediately followed independence proved tumultuous. Political and social tensions between Hindus and Muslims caused not only the division of India into two separate countries—a calamitous event referred to as Partition—but also wide-scale riots that claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The violence that accompanied independence was a prelude to the multiple wars, coups, and governmental abuses that plagued the area in the years that followed.

The political upheaval and constant threat of violence that marked the first three decades of independence forms the backdrop for Midnight’s Children, Rushdie’s most celebrated novel. Like Rushdie himself, Saleem, the narrator of Midnight’s Children, is born on the eve of independence, and the events of his life closely parallel events in the development of both India and Pakistan. Most of Rushdie’s novels concern themselves, to some extent, with the character and history of these two major South Asian nations and describe the various, often violent struggles between different religions, classes, languages, and geographical regions. In the thirty years following independence, India and Pakistan fought three separate wars: two over Kashmir, and one over the creation of an independent Bangladesh. The wars produced millions of refugees, claimed thousands of lives, and led to a nearly permanent state of tension between the two countries.

Raised in a well-to-do Muslim household, Rushdie was given an excellent education. After graduating from the University of Oxford in 1968, he moved briefly to Pakistan, where his family had immigrated after Partition, before returning to England to work as an actor and copywriter. Soon after, Rushdie published his first novel, Grimus (1975). A blend of science and literary fiction, Grimus, though generally ignored by critics, nonetheless marked the debut of a new literary talent that incorporated myth, magic, and fantasy into his narratives. Six years later, Rushdie published Midnight’s Children, which won the Booker Prize in 1981, and was later deemed the best Booker-winning novel from the first twenty-five years of the competition, earning the title “Booker of Bookers.” Heralded by critics as an enormous literary achievement, the novel instantly earned Rushdie comparison with some of the world’s greatest contemporary writers. However, Rushdie’s great international fame is mainly owed to his 1988 novel The Satanic Verses and the controversy that followed its publication. Muslim religious clerics and politicians deemed The Satanic Verses sacrilegious and offensive for its harsh, critical portrayal of Islam and for its less-than-reverent treatment of the Prophet Mohammed. The novel was banned in Rushdie’s native India and prompted the theocratic Iranian government to issue a fatwa—a religious ruling—calling for his death in 1989.

Rushdie spent the next nine years living in secrecy, under the protection of bodyguards and the British government. Fearful for his life, Rushdie nonetheless continued to write and publish books, most notably Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990) and the Moor’s Last Sigh (1995), as well as two works of nonfiction, The Jaguar Smile (1987) and Imaginary Homelands (1991). When the Iranian government lifted the fatwa in 1998, Rushdie was able to enjoy a return to a moderately normal life and eventually settled in New York City.

Rushdie’s work, and Midnight’s Children in particular, is often associated with several categories of literary fiction, including magical realism, postcolonial fiction, and postmodern literature. His work is often compared to, and admittedly influenced by, novels like Gunter Grass’s Tin Drum and Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Equally significant as the incorporation of mythical and fantastical elements into his fiction is Rushdie’s uniquely Indian perspective on the English language. Rushdie’s novels hum with an eclectic mix of prose styles, which echo the rhythm and slang of English as it is colloquially spoken in India. Familiar English words get combined in new and unusual ways, and long, unbroken sentences run on freely, sometimes spanning a page or more. The inspiration Rushdie draws from both ancient and contemporary Indian culture is also notable in his fiction. Elements taken from traditional Indian mythology and religion thread themselves through the novel, as do the artistic conventions of modern Bollywood, the vigorous, populist cinema industry based in Bombay. In its sheer exuberance and sprawling range of cultural sources, as well as its attempt to include as much of India’s vast cultural identity and contemporary history as possible, Midnight’s Children is as complete a reflection of the life and character of the subcontinent as any single novel could possibly provide.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Download E-Book of Dicken's Monumental Novel Oliver Twist

Download E-Book of Dicken's Monumental Novel Oliver Twist

Oliver Twist, or The Parish Boy's Progress, is the second novel by Charles Dickens, and was first published as a serial 1837–9. Wikipedia
Originally published: February 1837
Genres: Novel
Adaptations: Oliver! (1968), Oliver Twist (2005),

Book Review  

Like most of Dickens’s works, Oliver Twist is a novel that encompasses many genres. It is a novel that talks about serious issues, it is a mystery story, and some chapters can even seem to belong to horror-fiction. The plot of the story, extremely famous and familiar to many, revolves around the life of a young orphan boy named Oliver, who embodies saint-like purity and incorruptibility. He falls into the hands of an evil thief-trainer called Fagin and his gang of petty criminals. Oliver faces many obstacles and lives through many horrors throughout the novel.

Dickens’s writings are always political and social commentaries. They provide a powerful insight into the social injustices and the political oppressions that the poor people were subjected to in the England of the nineteenth century. Oliver Twist began to be published in a magazine in the year 1837 under Dickens’s pseudonym, Boz. It was the author’s second novel. It is a vehement protest against the Poor Law of 1834 – the main function of this law was to punish the poor for being poor and ensure that they never could rise out of their poverty. Oliver Twist is a ruthless satire; it effectively pierces the middle class’s veil of complacency and snobbery and reveals the hypocrisies that plague society. Though the novel deals with the England of the Industrial Revolution, it is as valuable a political critique today as it was during Dickens’s own lifetime.

Oliver does not always come across as a very real person, but at certain points one can identify with him completely. Every day we see young children, orphans or otherwise, being exploited and ill-treated. But we are mostly immune to pangs of guilt or pain. Oliver Twist gives voice to the people who are perpetually ignored and forgotten. For the space of the novel we can see society from their perspective.
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Download E-Book of Dicken's Monumental Novel Oliver Twist

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Indian Writing in English Poetry : The Best Essay

Indian Writing in English Poetry : The Best Essay
Indian Writing in English Poetry

“The best Indo-Anglican poets have given us something which neither English poetry nor any of our English literature can give: in other words, they have effected a true marriage of Indian processes of poetic experiences with English formulae of verse experience.”
                                                                                 -Shrinivasa Iyenger

The introduction of English education in India caused a tremendous ferment in the life and literature of the people. A whole world of new ideas was opened to them through the portals of English literature. Lord Bentinck’s decision to make English the medium of education in india was a momentous one. The inauguration of the Universities of Bombay, Calcutta and Madras in 1857 was the next landmark. As the new generation of India came out of the colleges and universities, English became the medium of thought and expression among the Indian Intelligentsia. It entered straight to the soul of Indian people. The first sign was found in the writing of English verse.

The growth of Indian poetry in English was a direct result of the British influence and rule of India. Early Indian poetry in English was a borrowed plume in every possible way. Right from syntax to sentiments everything was so imitative that it looked a perfect alien bride. Both in its inspiration and guidance it depended on England. Even the imagination was slavish.

The first among the Indo-Anglican poets was Henry Louis Vivian Derozio (1809-1831). Curiously enough, Derozio was not an In­dian in the real sense of the term, for his father was a Portuguese and if he had inherited from his Indian mother a love of India and a strong patriotic fervor, he had also inherited
Indian Writing in English Poetry
from his father’s side an equally strong prejudice against Indian culture and Hinduism. At the age of only nineteen he became the professor of poetry in Hindu College (Today’s Presidency College).He is being regarded the father of Indo-Anglican sonnet. His sonnets, The Harp of India and To India- My native Land, are regarded as fine examples of India’s earliest nationalistic poetry. His long narrative poem, The Fakir of Jangheera, describing the ill-fated life and adventures of Brahmin widow, Nuleeni. Derozio’s poetry shows a strong influence of the English Romantics, notably Byron and Scott.  

Another pioneering Indo-Anglican poet was Kashiprasad Ghosh (1809-1873), who published Shair and Other Poems in 1830. The Shair relates the tragic story of a poet whose lady love dies and who, unable to bear the separation, throws himself into the sea. The poem is full of conventional description of nature and tedious moralizing.

Indian Writing in English Poetry
Michael Madhusudan Dutt
Michael Madhusudan Dutt was more original and more spontaneous than Kashi Prasad Ghosh. He was a passionate admirer of Byron and sent poems to Blackwood’s Magazine dedicating them to William Wordsworth.  Two longer pieces, The Captive Ladie and Vision of Past and some sonnets and lyrics form his only writing in English verse. The Captive Ladie deals with the story of Prithvi Raj, the most romantic figure in the Rajput history. Vision of the Past is a slight sketch in the blank verse. It describes the primeval innocence, the Temptation of Man and his Fall in the form of visions.

Romesh Chander Dutt, civilian and economist, translated the Ramayana and the Mahabharata into felicitous English verse. He also published his Lays of Ancient India in 1894.

Indian Writing in English Poetry
Toru Dutt
With Aru Dutt and Toru Dutt we reach the first truly significant chapter of fulfillment in the history of Indo- Anglican poetry. Both the precious sisters are gifted singers, but unfortunately fated to die an early death, when they were still hardly more than girls. Aru died in 1874 and Toru in 1877, aged twenty and twenty one respectively. The most significant aspect of Dutt's literary career was her use of the rich Indian heritage of myth and folklore. In Ancient Ballads she converted popular stories from the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas into English verse. In this, she pioneered a way for several later Indian writers in English who had similar problems regarding their poetic identity. The best of these, probably, one of the best individual compositions in Indian poetry in English is Our Casuarina Tree. This poem, reminiscent in both form and content of Keats' odes, is about memory, imagination and transcendence. The stories of Savitri and Sita, Dhruba and Prahlada, told so often before, are told again with new freshness and charm. Both Our Casuarina Tree and Baugmaree show Toru Dutta reaching a riper perfection. Edmund Gosse paid a glorious tribute to her when he wrote:
                                “When the history of English literature of our country comes to be written, there is sure to be a page in it, dedicated to his fragile exotic blossom of song.”

Manmohan Ghosh is unique among Indian writers of English verse. He buried himself in the study of classical European art and literature with the result that his poetry entirely Western in taste an allusion. During his lifetime just one collection of his poems, Love Songs and Elegies, was published in London by Elkin Mathews in the Shilling Garland series in 1898. He remained a dedicated poet and wrote a number of longer, more ambitious works including 'Perseus', 'The Gorgon Slayer', 'Nala and Damayanti', 'Orphic Mysteries', 'Immortal Eve' and 'Adam Alarmed in Paradise'.

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Indian Writing in English Poetry
Sri Aurobindo Ghosh
Manmohan’s younger brother Aurobindo Ghosh was more than a poet; he was a patriot, philosopher, and yogi rolled into one. Sri Aurobindo had a record of poetic achievement without a parallel in our day. Urvasie and Love and Death are nobly articulate narrative poems, while Baji Prabhou is a first- rate poem of action. The Rose of God, The Golden Light, and Thought the Paraclete are among the finest mystical poems. His supreme achievement was Savitri, a colossal epic running to about 20000 lines. In Savitri he used the story of Savitri's conquest of death in the Mahabharata - a story which has influenced Indians for centuries as an exposition of perfect womanhood - and expanded it to create his epic. A mystic and a seer, Aurobindo claimed to have described his own, palpable experiences in writing the poem.

Indian Writing in English Poetry
Rabindra Nath Tagore
Rabindra Nath Tagore is regarded as the Titan among the Indian writers of English verse. Though strictly speaking, Tagore wrote only one poem, 'The Child' (1931), in English, his own English renderings of his famous poem, Gitanjali (Songs Offering) (1912) won him the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 and world - wide renown. After that, Tagore continued to "translate" several of his works into English, deviating considerably from the Bengali in the process. Tagore bestrides the world of Indian culture like a colossus.

Indian Writing in English Poetry
Sarojini Naidu
Sarojini Naidu (1879 - 1949), the Nightingale of India, is among the most popular and accessible of Indian poets in English. Naidu's poems are deliberately grounded in an anti - intellectual aesthetics of ephemeral beauty. She was primarily a lyric poet whose mastery of rhyme and meter is unmatched. Her poetical output contained in the volumes called The Golden Threshold (1905), The Bird of Time (1912), The Broken Wings (1917). These volumes are full of poignant feeling and picturesque Indian imagery. The chief quality of her poetry is melody - sound and sense combine to produce an emotion, as in music.

Harindranath Chattopadhyaya (1898 - 1989), brother of Sarojini Naidu showed great promise in his first collection, The Feast of Youth (1918). Both Tagore and Aurobindo were impressed by his talent. His another volumes are The Magic Tree, The Perfume of Earth, Grey Clouds and Coloured Garden etc.

Indian Writing in English Poetry
Kamala Das
There is no doubt that during the 1950's the dominant tone in Indian poetry in English shifted. The impact was swift and sweeping. What had been a minority voice suddenly became that of the majority. A ready made aesthetic was available to the new poets – the modernism of Eliot and Pound, of Richards and Leavis and of Picasso and jazz music. This aesthetic found rapid acceptance in the disillusionment of the post - independence era. Instead of ushering in the promised golden age, independent India became a typical third world country,
Indian Writing in English Poetry
backward, corrupt and hypocritical. The new generation which had come of age in the 1950's and 1960's found itself betrayed by its elders.

The major post - independence Indian English poets are : Nissim Ezekiel, Dom Moraes, P. Lal, Adil Jussawalla, A. K. Ramanujan, R. Parthasarthy, Gieve Patel, Arvind Mehrotra, Pritish Nandy, Kamala Das, K. N. Daruwalla, Shiv Kumar, Jayanta Mahapatra, Dilip Chitre, Saleem Peerdina, Santan Rodrigues, Eunice De Souza, Silgardo, Meena Alexander, Agha Shahid Ali, Vikram Seth, Manohar Shetty, Bibhu Padhi, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, Hoshang Merchant, Imtiaz Dharker, Jeet
Indian Writing in English Poetry
Arundhati Sudhramonium

Thayil, Makarand Paranjape, Rabindra K. Swain, Vijay Nambisan, Arundhati Subhramaniam, Anjum Hasan, Mamang Dai etc.

Moraes chooses Babur as a persona to suggest his own sense of alienation from India; Jusawalla finds himself filled with revulsion and pain upon Approaching Santa Cruz Airport, Bombay, in Kamala Das' The Sunshine Cat, An Introduction, the speaker castigates all the men who abused her, Ramanujan wonders if he is really himself in a characteristic self-reflexive "Self - Portrait". Mehrotra resorts to a surrealistic subversion of meaning in very discontinuous “Continuities”; Parthasarthy's Homecoming is loaded with self - criticism and loss; in Daruwalla's Routine the police officer
Indian Writing in English Poetry
Anjum Hasan

cynically prepares himself for another riot; Mahapatra's Dawn at Puri links the temple at Puri with crows and skulls' Chitre's speaker regards his Father returning Home with dispassionate and ironic detachment. Kolhatkar turns the whole idea of the traditional pilgrimage inside out in Jejuri. The publication of, in 1976, of Arvinda Krishna Mehrotra’s Nine Enclosures, Gieve Patel’s How Do You Withstand, Body, and Adil Jassawalla’s Missing Person by a Bombay Clearing House shows promise that high quality of Indo- English poetry is being produced still today.

The firmly rooted in their own cultural milieu and conscious of their poetic identity, the new Indian writers of English poetry delve into the myths, legends, superstitions and folklore of English poetry to express the contemporary social reality. Indian poetry in English is thus only occasionally poetry and only sometimes poetry. This leads to another strain of thought that - why must Indian poetry in English be always "Indian" to establish a nationality.  According to H.W. Longfellow “Nationality literature is good, but universality is better.”

It is always easy to tear a poem to pieces or deconstruct it but to understand a poem, or respond to it at several levels calls for approaches which are more constructive or creative and this should be the guiding principle of one’s approach to the study of Indian English poetry old or new.

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