If some future novelist were to create, out of his own imagination, characters like Gil Bias, Sinbad, Don Quixote and Gargantua—characters whom the sensitive reader will recognise and respond to as belonging to his own world of fantasy, the level of entertainment, edification and inner satisfaction which the reader gains, would far exceed anything he might experience with these foreign characters.
However, the fact remains that most novels written in Marathi belong to this class. There are, of course, some novels which are original. Of these some are Realistic and other Romantic. Of the latter, Muktamala, Ratnaprabha, Man-jughosha, Vichitrapuri, etc. are well-known. Of the first Aakalchya Goshti, Pan Lakshat Kone Gheto, Venu, Narayanrao, Godavari etc. are the best known. Let us look at the Romantic novels first.
Imagination—The Source of Fantasy
For millions of years man has been trying to understand his natural surroundings. As his understanding grew, he realised that all natural phenomena were firmly bound in a chain of cause and effect At the same time, he also realised that his own knowledge was confined to a couple of links in the chain; of the rest he was largely ignorant It was clear that he would not meddle with phenomena he knew nothing about. He could see he had no control over them at all, whether they were tengible natural phenomena, or intangible. It was this sense of impotence that gave rise to fantasy. When man realised that he was powerless in the world of reality, he began to seek and wield power in the world of his own imagination—the world of fantasy.
Man, a slave in the real world, is a lord in the world of imagination. There he makes possible what is not only imporbable but impossible in the real world. This is the world of the Romantic novel—a world where people walk in the air, women are endowed with perfect beauty, princes are paragons of all virtues and in whose kingdoms peace and happiness reign.
Whatever is incomplete in nature becomes whole in the imagination. The imperfect is transformed into the perfect.
The World of Imagination and Literature
The world of imagination touches the institutions, attitudes and literatures of all countries. It pervades religion, morality, philosophy, history, mathematics, deama, the novel, painting, sculpture, poetry, the law and all other spheres of human thought and creation.
The idea of God in religion, the idea of extreme bliss in morality, the idea of a well-governed state in history, the idea of the zero in mathematics, the idea of beauty in painting, the idea of rights in law, the unexpected happening in drama, are all ideas that belong not to the real world, but to the world of fantasy. And yet they are more real than reality.
This is why the fantastic is present to greater or lesser degree in every form of literature from the great epics and philosophical treatises of old to the most
78 July-September 1984