Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 14-15 (July-Dec 1987) p. 120.


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intention of projecting the king of Mysore as supreme is achieved in the play through the appearance of the king himself at the end. However, the artist in Masti is dominant and the focus of the play is the disintegration of the tribal society rather than the supremacy of the feudal lord, the king.

Samsa's works are difficult to understand, firstly because the plays have a lot of rough edges which makes it very difficult to assess them, and secondly, as already mentioned, because he destroyed most of his plays. But in spite of these difficulties one cannot but admire the genuis of the man. Like Balzac he was fascinated with ihe past and he completely rejected the contemporary life, so much so that he even led a totally secluded life. He was deeply suspicious of the literary community and of his admirers. He wrote page after page of personal appeal to his highness the king of Mysore, pleading with him to protect him from the police spies of the British, by whom he really meant his own friends and colleagues. In fact the names of some very important writers of that period have been listed in those pages as police spies. These appeals, running to nearly three hundred pages, all written in immaculate English, were never mailed. They were found lying next to Samsa's body when they broke open the doors of his room, three days after he died committing suicide. Despite his love for the old order, Samsa was not a conservative man. He was a completely self-educated man, and had run away from home at a very early age to Burma to make a living. It appears that he developed his persecution mania while living there.

His suicide note bears testimony to the extraordinary strength of his character. In the note he says that he has left thirty rupees and four annas in his shirt pocket, to be used for his funeral. He further says that since he does not believe in god, the funeral should be a non-religious one and his ashes should be thrown to the four winds. He committed suicide at the age of forty-one. He was not married and did not much care for his relatives.

What is astonishing and perhaps pertinent from the point of view of our discussion of Samsa is his great urge to create an authentic picture of the life during 'those glorious days' of the reign of Mysore. Because of this urge he developed a whole vocabulary of Kannada with words, phrases and connotations carefully chosen from epigraphs and documents belonging to that period. His use of language in a play like Vigada Vikramaraya for example, is even today considered a landmark in Kannada drama.

The imagery used by Samsa is also very powerful. To illustrate this point I shall describe a scene from one of his plays. A vast dusty hall is depicted, the hall in which during the festival of Navarathri the king is supposed to sit in court with great ceremony. Now the entire hall is dusty and on one side one notices a monstrously big object covered with a dirty cloth. A small boy enters the hall and out of curiosity he pulls aside the cloth. From beneath the dirty cloth, with a great glow, the golden throne of Mysore shows up. The boy is fascinated by the decorated chair and wants to sit on it, but cannot reach it. The throne is too big and he is too small and the steps leading to the throne have been removed. So the

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