Social Scientist. v 1, no. 1 (Aug 1972) p. 78.


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78 SOCIAL SCIENTIST

NAMWAR SINGH, KAVITA KE NAYE PRATIMAN, Rajkamal Prakashan, Delhi-6, pp 244 Rs 12.00

FOR more than two decades, literary criticism in Hindi has been particularly lacking in a sense of history. With the exception of the practice of a handful of Marxist critics, the main critical attempts are directed at appreciating individual literary pieces, preparing ground for new trends in poetry, short story, etc., or polemics to denounce some and establish others. It is not a mere coincidence that mostly it is creative writers who also write criticism and enter into vociferous literary debates. In the process, criticism suffers a great deal.1 No effort is done to search for and formulate objective critical standards of judgment against which to assess the value of a piece of writing. Instead, the jwriter-critic keeps on arguing incessantly that art is above any value-udgement or evaluation, meaning thereby that readers at large, as also critics, have got to accept and appreciate whatever writers give them ^ in the name of a literary work.

At the outset, let us not brush aside as trivial and absurd this stand of the critics since it does provide basis for a full-fledged school of thought in literary criticism. Our purpose is to underline the fact that when such a viewpoint is thrown at the face of everybody in season and out of season, critical principles to check anarchy in writing become difficult to realise. The realities of life of a given time as a stage in the process of historical development are not allowed to interact with literature so that the latter should operate under some regular discipline from concrete life-conditions.

In this context, Namwar Singh's book Kavita Ke Naye Pratiman should be welcomed as it pinpoints the need for evolving objective standards of judgment in literary criticism. No doubt, Namwar Singh seems to understand the manifold implications of such an effort being done. His plan to first go deep into the debates on literary issues in the post-'chhayavadi' era and to raise from within them new questions for their resolution is, though high-sounding, a step in the right direction. Only when a critic has acquainted himself well with the interplay of diverse attitudes in a particular historical phase in criticism and thought of building up his viewpoint on the basis of and through such an acquaintance can he avoid abstractions and contribute something specific and meaningful to literary appreciation and evaluation.

Divided in two broad sections, one containing articles on widely-debated questions in contemporary literature and the other on deeper aspects of literature and creativity, the book poses fundamental issues in a fairly large frame-work. In fact, the journey from ^what is poetry" through the relevance of "rasa siddhanta" to current writing and revaluation of 'Kamayani5 down to the concepts of poetic image, complexity and tension of feelings, genuineness and authenticity of emotion, and finally to the analysis of Muktibodh's poem "Andhere mein59 is long



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