14 August 2008

Anand's lost sentences

From Anand's memoir (The Bubble) where Anand describes the process of editing Untouchable:

"I have so far used the language of the mocking bird indeed. I read my garbled, gargantuan rhetorical prose: “He saw giant masses of black bodies, stinking by the foulairtake of each ignoble creature, herdedinchains, to enter the doors of hells, held ajar by the horned doots of Yama, himself in Yab-Yam embrace with yami, sweating the oil of sweat, above the blood that oozed from flesh lacerated by whips, fear-stricken at being pushed into the ocean of filth, which exuded the smell of death,” etc. Bathos! With the smell of Christian hell about it! And the fall! Infected by the neurosis of after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden!"

And here's how Anand described the process of Gandhi's editing of his work (this is from The Little Plays of Mahatma Gandhi):

Gandhi: Mocking bird with a vengeance! Such big big words! You don’t know, that Harijans sigh, moan, groan and say a few words! They never talk in such big words! You want to make them into Dr. Johnsons!

K.C. Azad: (Humbled) I have been following the method of James Joyce. Stream of consciousness of characters! He has coined a new language. With puns! Satirical words! Joined words! Poetic phrases! … I thought if I also use big words, and make puns, English people will think I have mastered the English language …

Gandhi: I thought the same in London! Then an English friend, a Quaker, told me to write simply. I began to translate into English from Gujarati. Why don’t you write in your language?

K.C. Azad: I have no language. My mother tongue is Punjabi. But the Sarkar has appointed English and Urdu as court languages! … Except Bhai Vir Singh and Dhani Ram Chatrath Poets! Few of us write in Punjabi. The only novel writer is Nanak Singh. There are no publishers in Punjabi or Urdu. Even Dr. Muhammad Iqbal writes in Urdu and Persian not in Punjabi! No one can earn a living as a writer in Punjabi. In English—my novel may get published in London

Gandhi: Acha! Write in any language that comes to hand. But say what Harijans say! And the poor say! Translate their speech literally. Don’t use ‘Thees’ and ‘Thous!’ Above all you must be sincere! Truthful! Write of life as it really is! … Of the poor! Few writers have written about the poor! Only Sarat Babu! And Prem Chand! – I hear!

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