( Note : To be published in the Annual Number of ‘Mainstream’)
In this conversation academician, writer and social activist Zaheer Ali talks about his latest book ‘Romancing With Revolution : Life and Works of Faiz Ahmed Faiz’ (Aakar Books, Delhi, 2019) and why Faiz is ‘ extremely relevant in today’s India’
This is the hour of madness, this too the hour of chain and noose You may hold the cage in your control, but you don’t command The bright season when a flower blooms in the garden. So, what if we didn’t see it? For others after us will see The garden’s brightness, will hear the nightingale sing
(This Hour of Chain and Noose (Faiz, Tauq o dar ka Mausam, 1951)
Continue reading Talking Faiz: ‘In This Hour of Madness’
Guest post by PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY
Harold Bloom had made it clear many times that his investment in the Greek literary critic Dionysius Longinus, writing in the first century AD, was a way to address and revisit the fundamental encounter of the sublime in our living. Commentators have noticed a remarkable ‘agon’ being played out in Bloom’s career: between his idealizing enthusiasm in romantic-messianic visions and his equal investment in gnostic wisdom and stoic classicism. This agon, or contestation, was his way of addressing a certain space of the uncanny in dealing with art and literature, in contrast to the modernizers and tropologists who, he believed, rejected subjectivity itself as a fallacy. Not Bloom—who had always claimed that the ‘strong critic’ is a kind of poet. As he saw it, literary criticism is an ongoing tussle between the pathos of the heroic will and the ‘literalizers’ who deal in tropes and textual juggleries. But has he been successful in strictly distinguishing the daemonic from the analytic? Are the uncanny and surpassing moments entirely separable from the sensory and the figurative?
Here is a singular song, penned and sung by Suman Chattopadhyay (now Kabir Suman) decades ago. Continue reading Still Life, Aflutter – Harold Bloom and an Old Incantation: Prasanta Chakravarty
Guest post by TAMOGHNA HALDER
“It was the unlikeliest setting for a ‘literature festival’. A run-down auditorium with rickety chairs secured with rope. Noisy ceiling and pedestal fans. Battle scarred tables covered with threadbare cloth. But the first edition of the People’s Lit Fest, held in Kolkata, was designed to be just that – a radically different interpretation of literature and its role in modern India”
These were the opening lines of a report by Scroll.in, on the 1st edition of People’s Literary Festival, 2018. In less than a couple of weeks, the 2nd edition of People’s Literary Festival (henceforth, PLF) will commence, once again at that run-down auditorium with rickety chairs, namely ‘Sukanta Mancha’ in Kolkata. The present article hopes to shed some light on the reasons why those rickety chairs or the noisy fans are related to PLF, but before that, as a member of Bastar Solidarity Network (Kolkata Chapter), I feel compelled to explain why we even organize PLF in the first place.
Continue reading In Imagination, in Resistance, in Solidarity and Rage – People’s Literary Festival in Kolkata: Tamoghna Halder
Guest post by PRASANTA CHAKRAVARTY
Stephen Greenblatt has struck upon a sheer and stupendous idea: to retell the tale of the first couple of the Christian world, Adam and Eve. The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve is a sweeping work with a remarkably ranging scholarship, galloping through centuries in minutes. The tone and the expanse of the book successfully hide the vertical depth of laborious research that has gone into bringing such an ambitious endeavour into culmination. This is also a book of reliving an ancient art: the bare act of telling a story, holding up the full panoply of its rich narrative contours. The book jauntily speculates as much as it reveals. The very subject matter allows Greenblatt to do so. But there is yet another dimension to this project— a life-long, intense personal engagement with the idea of how conscious human intervention may have altered man’s relationship with whatever is cosmic, mythical and animistic. To that end it is also an ideological book that tells the story of Adam and Eve as it tries to grapple with our modern condition.
Continue reading Adam, Eve, Art – Neither Belief Nor Unbelief: Prasanta Chakravarty