Social Scientist. v 15, no. 164 (Jan 1987) p. 19.

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Problematics of Middle Class Consciousness in Jivanananda Das Novels

TO CLASSIFY certain works of art as 'political novels', is not to suggest that the works belonging to the complementary set are devoid of political content. On the contrary, it may be argued that 'the convenient working distinction between cultural texts that are social and political and those that are not is something worse than an error : namely a symptom and a re-inforcement of the reification and privatization of contemporary life'.1 Therefore, if we still wish to retain the term 'political novel' to signify a particular body of fiction, then it must be defined in a way that can both relate and separate it from the category of the 'non-political novel'. Only then, works belonging to both the categories will remain open to political interpretation.

Since the business of a novelist is to deal with social situations, every novel, whether ^political' or 'non-political' has to embody a certain specific form of social relationship. The criterion that sets apart the 'political novel' from the ^non-political' is grounded on the nature of that embodiment in the novel. The political', as opposed to the ^non-political' novelist, is not content with the knowledge that a particular form of social relationship is implicit in the construction of his novel, but instead, wishes to make an explicit survey of social relations, i.e., he treats that specific form of social relationship as the very subject of his novel, he takes up for study the very soul of the novel.

Without disregarding the specificity of a given social situation, without minimising the autonomy of the material, we may still safely assume that the manner in which the political novelist organises and structures his material, the particular way in which he perceives the nature of social relations becomes a factor in determining the political character of the novel.

By exploring, analysing or performing a critique if necessary of a form of social relationship, the political novelist finally aims at a re-orientation in the perspective of the reader ; he tries to make the reader accept the validity of the version of reality as projected by him, to make the reader perceive as he has perceived, to radicalize the consciousness of

*Jadavpar University, Calcutta.

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