Friday, October 5, 2012

Out of Print 9

Out of Print 9 features a single work by U R Ananthamurthy. The Hunt, The Bangle and The Chameleon, has not been published in translated form before.

The cover is an image from a collaborative community project by N S Harsha.

Chandrahas Choudhury in his review of the recently translated Bharathipura (translation, Sushila Punitha, Oxford University Press, 2011) comments that ‘Mr Ananthamurthy … takes as his great theme Hinduism's relationship to modernity.’ Professor Anathamurthy’s work, Tim Parks says ‘has the all difficulty and rewards of the genuinely exotic, … [in comparison to] the far more familiar Indians writing in English ... who have used their energy and imagination to present a version of India to the West where exoticism is at once emphasized and made easy.

One of Professor Ananthamurthy’s most acclaimed novels is Samskara: A Rite for a Dead Man (translation A K Ramanujan, Oxford University Press, 1976) later made into an award winning film by Pattabhi Rama Reddy. In India: A Wounded Civilisation (Andre Deutsch 1977, Penguin, 1979), V S Naipaul sees the novel that in his view captures ‘the Indian idea of the self’, as ‘a form of social inquiry’ which highlights the decay of Indian civilisation. Refuting this as too limited an interpretation, R K Gupta in his article, The ‘Fortunate Fall’ in U R Anantha Murthy’s Samskara (International Fiction Review, 7 (1), 1980, pp. 20-28) suggests that the ‘moral and spiritual growth’ of the protagonist, the Brahmin Praneshacharya ‘through what might be called his "fortunate fall" defines the theme and controls the form’ of the novel. The critical event of the acharya’s ‘felix culpa’ is his encounter with Chandri, a woman of low caste that leaves him recognising that ‘he has lost his virtue. At the same time ... he has ... [a] sense of having attained ... not only physical and emotional fulfillment but also an increased moral awareness as well as a broadening and refining of his human perceptions.’ 

We offer that The Hunt, The Bangle and TheChameleon explores both the social themes of transition and modernity that occupy Professor Ananthamurthy, as well as the transformation of the individual, although here, the defining change in the protagonist, Krishnaswamy comes not from an encounter with sin, but rather with innocence.

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