REVIEW ARTICLE / P.K.DUTTA*
Studies in Heterogeneity: A Reading of Two Recent Indo-Anglian Novels
Amitava Ghosh, The Shadow Lines. Ravi Dayal Publisher, Delhi, 1988, Rs. 90.
I.Allan Sealy, The Trotter Nama, Viking, London, 1988, £ 12.95.
I.A Sealy's The Trotter Nama and A. Ghosh's The Shadow Lines are the most recent testaments of what is being regarded as a major phenomenon: the consolidation and creativity of the English Novel in India. There is a fairly stiff measure of surprise irfvolved here. It springs from the fact that the English Novel in India (certainly before the publication of Midnight's Children) had only occasionally laid claims on our seriousness, being institutionally marginalised by English Literature Studies and rather shamefacedly carrying the burden of its colonial connection when counted among the creative literatures of the country. There is yet another dimension to this wonder, that lies in the sense that the English Novel in India has "come of age." In short, that it has successfully negotiated what appeared, some years ago, an unre-solvable critical problem in the use of English for creative writing in our country.
The quandary arose from the sense ot externality that the English language left when describing its narrative object. It is as always difficult to generalise, but the use of the language in the novels of Narayan, Bhattacharya, Anand, Mehta and Hossain (among many others, though with exceptions like Desani) seemed to possess a built-in alienation (and not always a productive one) from their description of highly specific social circumstances. Clearly this was not a matter of style alone. The instance of Narayan is sufficient to persuade us that facility of language was not a weakness. The problem seemed more fundamental. Partly it appeared to lie in the peculiar situations of the English language itself, in India. Indian-English has had a multiple location, being interanimated by its relationships with other Indian languages (especially after the adoption of the triple language policy)
* Sri Venkateswara College, Delhi University, Delhi.