Social Scientist. v 15, no. 164 (Jan 1987) p. 61.

Graphics file for this page

literature of the left must be alert and intelligent, and prepared, at the shortest possible notice, to assume the initiative. Its response to slander cannot be with cliches and arid formalism alone. The attempt to subvert the Bengali psyche and to steer it away from commitment to Marxiat praxis must of course be fought with all means. But it is not enough to come out with curative prescriptions. What is called for is a superior genre of creativity.

Let me explain. The dream of a society purged of exploitation and with opportunities flowing equally to all retains an eternal charm about it Our literary endeavours cannot but continue to be loyal to that beautiful dream. It is however equally a part of social reality that succeeding generations tend to reveal a preference for new modalities of expression^ This is where, in my humble judgment, the left has of latelbeen falling in Bengal. As with much else in Bengali cultural pursuits, literature too has entered a stylised phase. The enemy is smart and aggressive ; he is determined to apply all the dirty tricks of the capitalist trade ; the dazzle of form he deploys is intended to divert attention away from the bankruptcy of bis ideas. Yet, in the short run, the penetrative quality of the dazzle is undeniable. Allow a free run to such short runs, and we may face the spectre of long run retrogression. Such a calamity, we assure ourselves, cannot happen ?that would be a-historical. Inertia, unfortunately, is not history;

it is creative collective action which moulds history. The left must acquire the flexibility to move swiftly against pseudo literature ; it must lea^n to counter superficial dazzle with imaginative brilliance ; it must analyse the changes in external environment as they affect social relations, and consider adjustments in forms of expression which this may necessitate. To argue that because we had arrived at the core of truth a few decades ago through a particular modality, we are not going to discard the old faithful, would be no service to the cause. The correlation of forces may have slightly disturbed the location of the core of truth, making the modality of the past somewhat inappropriate at the present Juncture. This realisation ought to be an integral component of social awareness ; it will be tragic if radical imagination is ordered to shove it aside.

An age of brilliance is followed, Virginia Woolfhad remarked somewhere, albeit in an altogether different context, by an age of endeavour. The forties and fifties witnessed perhaps the peak of progressive cultural movement in Bengal. The left was on the ascendant in all spheres of creative activity, whether it be fiction or poetry, music or drama, journalism or historiography, painting or sculpture. There was of course the unifying focus on content : the vision of a socialist millenium, and total faith in the immutability of the vision. A complementary aspect was however the several creative breakthrough in form. The social system enchaining the nation did not, could not, allow scope in the past for the flowering of proletcult. The lack of historical consciousness was no hindrance though. Marxist practitioners took their art to the people in the fields and

Back to Social Scientist | Back to the DSAL Page

This page was last generated on Wednesday 12 July 2017 at 18:02 by
The URL of this page is: