Social Scientist. v 13, no. 141 (Feb 1985) p. 61.

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Sharacchandra Muktibodh

SHARACCHANDRA MUKTIBODH (brother ofGajanan Muktibo^h) died on 2) November 1984. The event passed almost unnoticed. This neglect of an important Marathi writer on the part of the Press can, however, be readily explained if we bear in mind that all events and things were overshadowed by the great national calamity that had overtaken us three days earlier and the holocost that followed. But this was not the first time that Muktibodh was neglected. This had happened all through his career as a writer. The explanation lies partly in the literary atmosphere in Maharashtra during the last thirty/forty years, and partly in what Muktibodh was doing during this period.

We shall first have a look at the literary-intellectual milieu in the post-independence Maharashtra. Pessimism and nihilism dominated the literary $cene. There is something paradoxical about this. Why should this negative attitude to life flourish at a time when the nation was awakening, after a long sleep of colonial rule, to the new tasks of national reconstruction; when the value-structure created during the anti-imperialist movement dominated mainly by Gandhi was still alive; when the national development plans were evolved and had started yielding positive results ? This is evidence enough to show that at least in Maharashtra the literary elite had lost contact with the mainstream of national life. It appears to have been swept off its feet by Mardhekar, a writer who dominated the literary scene for more than two decades in various ways.

It may be conceded that the pessimism which informed Mardhekar's poetry was authentic, and that the new imagery, diction, syntactical devices he used so powerfully were genuinely warranted by the peculiar content of his pofctry. The question that should concern a serious literary critic is : how did the personal vision of one poet, however powerful he might be, come to be universalized with such ease and speed ? How did it happen that a whole generation of poets began to write in the Mardhekarian idiom ? The only plausible explanation is that such things constantly happen in colonised countries. Mardhekar was imitated so universally and uncritically primarily because he brought to Marathi a fresh consignment of what was latest in the West A country that had attained freedom after a century and a half of all-round slavery cannot help lapsing into cultural parasitism; it is predisposed to import on a large scale Western ideas, attitudes, and forms, whether they

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