62 SOCIAL SCIENTIST
are really required or not, for sieving its own problems.
The second salient feature of the period we are considering is the inexplicably great importance that came to be attached to Idealist autonomist theory of an as presented by Mardhekar. Mardhekarian aesthetics is a particularly weak branch of the mighty Kantian-Hegelian tree, decked out in flashy finery indiscriminately borrowed from sources as different from each other as Russell and Taylor/F.H. Bradley, with no consideration for relevance or accuracy. After the appearance of this vacuous theory, aesthetic kite-flying became a popular game and very few writers and critics could resist the temptation to join it; it is unfortunate that Muktibodh took this game seriously enough to undertake a detailed refutation of Mardhekar. This does not mean that people became autonomists on the plane of practical criticism. Many remained non-autonomists; a few were seriously concerned with moral and social problems; a large number continued to provide light entertainment through superficial biographical or autobiographical tit-bits and literary gossip.
The third important feature of the period is the emergence of the 'shot stor/ as the most popular form of literature. This was pardy on account of the demands of the new publication medium which was fast gaining popularity : the Diwali number of magazines. Although the number of literary magazines was always small, and they were ever living a precarious existence, there used to be, and still is, a spate of Diwali numbers of magazines of all sorts; a harried reader torn as he is between arrears of office work on the one hand and crackers and laddus on the other, finds most suitable cultural fare in a Diwali number, richly studded with about a dozen short stories by star writers. This ideally suits the short story writers, for almost identical reasons. It is not unlikely that writers who were after quick popularity and/or quick money did not have, and did not feel, the need for imaginative and intellectual stamina for sustained work in any direction. Short story as a form can of course be used for a continued and serious quest for values. But only ji few short story writers showed a sustained concern for moral, psychological, social or metaphysical problems. An important short story writer of the period very complacently and somewhat proudly told me once that there was little self-consistency in the moral judgements strewn in his stories.
Anyone who is acquainted with the writings of Muktibodh, a serious committed writer preoccupied with some of the major problems of life, can easily see why he mu^t have been neglected by his contemporaries. He was, frankly, somewhat agressively non-autonomist with pronounced Marxist leanings. Muktibodh's work in three different fields—novel, poetry, criticism—was one integrated attempt at discovering and/or asserting a viable cognitive-cum-valuational structure. In his elaborate discussion of D.G Godse's work, Pot (Texture), Muktibodh, while paying a handsome compliment to the author for his efforts to provide a social context to art, attributes the shortcomings of the book primarily to Godse's non-Marxist sociological treatment of the subject. Though acutely aware of the almost overwhelming difficulties of modern life, Muktibodh refused to take the defeatist, nihilistic