21 August 2006

Important backyards

Here's U R Ananthamurthy's apt analogy of the frontyard and backyard of a traditional Indian house applied to literature. Some excerpts:

"... the backyard (was) the most magical space for me. Had I not frequented it and eavesdropped on the gossips there, I would never have become a writer.

"... The two worlds of the front and the back have ever since been meeting creatively in our literary works. The back-yard is inexhaustible. As literacy spreads and more and more people emerge into the frontyard of our civilization they bring their own richness, as memories, and desire to integrate with the mainstream of world literature.

"... When the royal path becomes pompous and loud and artificially rhetorical and, therefore, a voice of public emotion only it loses the flexibility and truthfulness and earthiness of the common speech. It is at such moments of cultural crisis that the traditions in the backyard make a come-back and revitalize the language. This is what Wordsworth, Blake and Hopkins have done to the English language in their own country, and in our country the saint poets like Tukaram, Basava, Nanak and Kabir have done it with much greater consequence for our culture. The Shudras and women were empowered by the great saint poets of India. No one can talk about literature in the Indian bhashas without recognizing its intimate relationship with larger political and cultural questions."

(Immensely homesick, his description of his house makes me.)

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