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Unknowable or Comprehensible: Two Attitudes to Life and Death inModern Hindi Prose
University of Moskow, Russia.
2012 (English)In: Orientalia Suecana, ISSN 0078-6578, Vol. 60, 71-82 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The paper deals with the approach of Hindi literature to understanding the nature of God through the realization of the nature of Life and Death. The focus is on two novels by two prominent novelists: Apne–apne ajnabī (To Each His Stranger, 1961) by Sachchidananda Hirananda Vatsyayana “Ajneya” (or “Agyeya”, 1911–1987) and Ai, laṛkī (Hey, Girl!, 1991) by Kṛṣṇā Sobtī(b. 1925).

The main characters in Ajneya’s prose are often people who oppose conservative society and experience a feeling of exclusion and detachment from the common world. In his early stories the characters are based on events from the Russian revolution, and in his later creations are lonely heroes. Some of Kṛṣṇā Sobtī’s heroines could also be understood as marginal characters, but they try to overcome this marginality and sometimes work actively to reach their goal. As a rule, they finally succeed. The reader is left with a feeling that Kṛṣṇā Sobtī’s heroines’ attitudes to life on the whole are very positive.

In my paper I proceed from the assumption that the creations of both writers combine a western and an Indian approach to understanding and representing the world. The novels look very similar in composition, in the construction of the main characters, and in the way they highlight key elements. But Ajneya and Kṛṣṇā Sobtī in these novels reached practically opposite results depicting their protagonists in the margin between Life and Death, in search of God, attempting to understand the meaning of their existence. For Yoke, one of Ajneya’s heroines, rebellion against the world and against God is practically the only way to realize Truth. Rebellion is her existential choice. At the same time the writer presents Selma as an alternative heroine.

The novel by Kṛṣṇā Sobtī, written about 30 years later than Ajneya’s, might be viewed as a woman writer’s attempt to subvert Ajneya’s existentialist pattern. The interplay between the two texts seems to me very important for understanding the attitude of both writers to the challenges that life and death pose to human beings.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Uppsala universitet, 2012. Vol. 60, 71-82 p.
Keyword [en]
Hindi novel, women’s writing, Hinduism, existentialism, Life and Death, Ajneya, Kṛṣṇa Sobtī
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
Indology with Classical Sanscrit
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-177288OAI: diva2:540018
Available from: 2012-07-06 Created: 2012-07-06 Last updated: 2012-07-06Bibliographically approved

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