Rony George- Subverting the tyranny of the nation state through the Grotesque body imagery: A Bakhtinian Reading of O Vijayan’s The Saga of Dharmapuri

Janardhanan, Prathyaksh. Subverting the tyranny of the nation state through the Grotesque body imagery: A Bakhtinian Reading of O Vijayan’s The Saga of Dharmapuri. RESEARCH HUB – International Multidisciplinary Research Journal. Volume-3, Issue-04, April 2016.Web.

Class and caste struggles of an individual can only be understood by looking into the sociopolitical and economic context of in which he/she lives in. As a novelist, O V Vijayan’s interest lies in bringing under scrutiny the multiple and varied forces that determine the plight of the proletariat. This essay too, is investigating the sam cause using a Bakhtinian lens.

The main argument of the essay is that the subversion of the oppressive system of totalitarianism masquerading as democracy is being carried out by employing repulsive and scary imageries in the primary text. This is done by the help of the concept named grotesque realism. O V Vijayan’s The Saga of Dharmapuri is an exemplary work that is very much suitable to understand these concepts. Haunting images and portrayals of incidents are exaggerated accounts of extreme violence and aggression. The author, by trivializing the serious and vice versa, makes the readers think of the fierce challenges waiting for them. Even international politics becomes the focus when Dharmapuri is shown as a third world country as opposed to the soviet Russia and a capitalist America.

A key point that the essay offers is that, in accordance with the Bakhtinian concepts, the villainous characters are shown as engaging in the acts involving the body and its pleasures. On the other hand, positive characters such as Sidhartha is shown as a saintly person. While we are exposed to the grotesque bodily acts of the former characters, the latter is always associated with more aesthetically pleasing descriptions of the body. In effect, the gran narratives of the nation are being challenged. The subjugated group of people seeks relief in the use of praise – abuse vocabulary. This too, is a Bakhtinian concept. Parallels of this notion can be found in many historical practices that are still in practice.

The limitation of the study is that is argues that the novel is a response to the emergency period in India during 1975-1977. However, this is a factually wrong notion. The author had penned the novel much before the declaration of the emergency period and had published parts of it. However, the novel turned prophetic when the incidents portrayed in the novel started getting implemented in the real life.

Further, there are deeper levels of issues to be probed into in this scenario. Though most of the criticism is being levelled against the flaws of modern day democratic governments, it also talks about the ways in which class struggle eventually leads to revolution and how the existing corrupt systems will get sabotaged. On a closer examination, it can also be found that the bodies and their acts being portrayed sends clear political messages and raises questions of class and caste. This opens up the scope for a study along a different trajectory involving caste and class struggles and their evolution and contexts.

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Rony George- Location of History in a Spiritual Ecosystem: Looking at “Madhuram Gayati” by O. V Vijayan

Vinod, V.B.  Location of History in a Spiritual Ecosystem: Looking at “Madhuram Gayati” by O. V Vijayan. Indian Literature.53.2 (250): 2009. JSTOR. Web. 15 June 2016.

 

The major argument of this paper is that O V Vijayan is basically a historian who is trying to bring about a philosophical and spiritual way of understanding history. To substantiate this point, the author says that a different sense of ecology is employed to show the connectedness of all entities in the universe in a spiritual matrix in the primary text.

The primary text engages this ecosystem on philosophical and spiritual levels. To drive home the point, the author refers to Vijayan’s  path-breaking work, The Legends of Khasak and the ‘Puranam’ about the evolution of plants and animals starting from just two entities. Vijayan laments over the loss of humane values as a result of the intrusion of machines into all spaces around us.

All of his novels are rich with references to folktales, oral histories and stories of evolution. The novels like The Legends of Khasak and Generations are only a few among the many examples. Thus, the objective of locating history in a spiritual ecosystem spans over all the works of the author. In doing this, Vijayan achieves certain key goals. It is a very effective way of resisting western philosophy which is largely incapable of dealing with realities and aesthetics of the orient. This is done by constructing a seemingly imaginary world, flora and fauna and infusing a completely different philosophy into them. Personification is a strong tool in this regard. Departing from the western tradition, what Vijayan creates is an expansive, liberal narrative space, where the western counterpart is imperialistic and manipulative.

In this particular primary text, there are a lot of examples for these arguments. The banyan tree which restores the purity and neutralises the harm done by machines on the other half of the world. Transcendentalism at its best is what the novel offers for the critiques and readers.

However, the article says that O V Vijayan looks at history not as available records but as the content that emerges out of deep meditation and heightened consciousness of connectedness in the universe. This is not completely correct because Vijayan looks into specific historical incidents and major turning points to narrate his tales. In most of his works, things like the world war and freedom struggle becomes very important moments in the unfolding of the events.

Rony George- Postcolonial Criticism and Indian Historiography

Prakash, Gyan. “Postcolonial Criticism and Indian Historiography.” Third World and Post-Colonial Issues 31.32 (1992): 8-19. JSTOR. Web. 9 June 2016.

 

Revisiting and rewriting the social identities formed by the colonial forces is at the core of postcolonial historiography. Marxism and nationalism are popularly perceived as the anti thesis of colonial projects. However, the essay suggests that even these are Europe centred. Bringing out the blind-spots and silences are the keys in deconstructing the colonial versions of historiography. The first world is seen as the last word for not only in the areas of technology and economy but also cultural and artistic production. Using the concepts put forward by Homi K. Bhabha and Gayatri Spivak are helpful in exploring the processes and strategies associated with this project. Ideologies of nationhood requires close analysis. many a times, we fail to identify many elements that are disguised as belonging to the orient.Rereading the popularly held notions of history is essential to demystify the colonial historiography.