Narrative technique of River of Stories

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River of Stories by Orijit Sen

‘River of Stories’ is considered as one of the first instances of Indian graphic novels written and illustrated by Orijit sen in 1994. The story is the result of Sen’s participation in the Narmada Bachao Andolan, a protest by the tribal communities against the construction of the Sardar Sarover Dam on the Narmada in Madhya Pradesh. In the hands of Orijit Sen emerges the new genre of graphic novel in Indian context which acts as a resistance against the destructive government policies. Orijit Sen had his influences from his childhood’s comic books like Phantom, Tintin, Amar Chitra Katha, Nonte Phonte . Later he
came across Art Spiegelman and Robert Crumb. He learnt a lot from reading their stories, observing their styles and even copying them. His style of depicting stories is inspired by Mughal miniature painting as well. But it was his travels with his cartographer father that had an enduring impact on his narrative technique of River of Stories.

The story depicts a beautiful amalgamation between the protest of the tribal community against the government and the story of their myths. The narration continously goes back and forth in time, strating with the invocation of the deity Kujum Chantu who according to their myth holds the earth and the creation. And then it jumps into the contemporary time
portraying Vishnu, a young journalist from Delhi, going on a journey to Ballanpur to become the voice of the protesters and the locals, following the way that Sen himself may have taken while researching.WIth black and white visual images Sen brings in the tribal tradition of oral storytelling by the character Malgu Gayan holding the musical instruments like the rangai who sings the story of the creation of the river Rewa. Malgu represents an omnipresent moral character for the story, a magnetic presence spearding the worlds of myth and reality. As we realise the full scope of theoppression of the locals, justified in the name of vague-sounding visions of progress; the importance of Malgu’s initial story about the deity Kujum Chantu and the creation myth dawns upon us. The farcical confrontation
between Malgu and an politician at the end of the book depicts the distinction between the modern industrial world with its complexities and the simple life of the indegenous people in the midst nature.

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Rhythmic word in The Essence of Poetry

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In the literary history and critical theory of poetry Sri Aurobindo’s ‘The Future Poetry’ is one of the most vital and unique documents. In this book he directly and candidly refers to his reading of James Cousin’s ‘New Ways of English Literature’ where he finds a clue to the poetry of the future, poetry of enchantment, of magic and prayer, poetry of vision and revelation, and the poetry of the inner self. After reviewing Cousin’s book Sri Aurobindo serialized ‘The Future Poetry’ in a journal called ‘Arya’ between 1917 to 1920 where he gives the idea of a ‘soul-poetry’ through the Rhythmic word in The Essence of Poetry. This theory of poetry also acts as a post colonial resistance on the level of history of English poetry.

In former times poetry was a way of ascending human consciousness. It was a part of man’s spiritual and psychic practice. In the ancient time this rhythmic word was called Mantra that came as a song. With the evolution of human consciousness and intellectuality poetry gradually started loosing its true function. Intellectuality and objectivity became an obstruction in the way of poetry of vision. In the chapter, ‘The Essence of Poetry’ Sri Aurobindo discusses the highest function of real poetry that is to search for the human self and connect it with the cosmic consciousness. This kind of Mantric poetry comes from the supreme height, from the deepest corner of the heart or from some divine. According to him intelligence, intellectuality are not required for creating this rhythmic word, “for neither the intelligence, the imagination nor the ear are the true or at least the deepest or highest recipents of the poetic delight..”. These are not its creator, these are its channels and instruments only. He also says that the rhythmic word has two elements, the sound value and the thought value. And both sound and thought separately and together bring a soul value which is a direct spiritual power and thus making the poetry immortal. “..the more directly the word reaches and sinks deep into the soul, the greater the poetry”. This message can only be realized in the way of a rhythmic word because it’s the most characteristic power of poetry since it goes deep into our secret selves and connects us with the universe.

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Woman question in The Home and the World

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The Home and the World

Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Ghare Baire’ or ‘The Home and the World’ , first published in 1916 portrays a multi-dimensional portrayal of the contemporary Indian society. It raises many debates regarding politics, nationalism and especially gender issues. Tagore through his novel tried to analyse these problems inherent in Indian society in the early twentieth century. In the backdrop of freedom struggle, Tagore’s purpose was to bring to the fore the society and women’s condition, role and importance in it, and at the same time Tagore’s own view regarding women’s freedom. Thus through various facets the shades of woman question in The Home and the World can be seen.

In the swadeshi movement lies the origin of a dichotomy between ‘the home’ and ‘the World’ or ‘spiritual’ and the ‘material’. ‘The World’ represents the outer public life while ‘the home’ is one’s own spiritual self . It may be said that the material world is for male as it deals with reality and harsh objects. Whereas the spiritual world can be represented by women as it holds India’s superior culture, requires conservation. This analogy re-establishes women’s roles as care-givers for the society .

In ‘The Home and the World’ Bimala, the protagonist of the novel, gets married in a house long rooted in the old traditions and customs where women were never allowed to cross the threshold of the house. Bimala, who is brought up in an environment like this, it’s quite obvious for her to conform to the traditional values and believes that husband is the god for women and he should be worshipped. Hence in the very beginning of the novel we can see she takes the dust of her husband’s feet while he is asleep. She wants to worship him as it will be her salvation. Being highly influenced by her mother’s role as a wife Bimala wants
to carry the same legacy of selfless service in her own conjugal life. In fact as she is not much beautiful she wants to uphold her chastity as the replacement of her beauty. This is the very scenario we can see in the beginning.

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Absurdity and menace in The Birthday Party

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Zoë Wanamaker and Toby Jones in Ian Rickson’s production of The Birthday Party. Photograph: Johan Persson

The source of grotesque in art and literature is man’s capacity for finding a unique and powerful fascination in the monstrous. At the dawn of the twentieth century , a definition of ‘ grotesque ‘ in literary criticism began to take shape. The critical word ‘ grotesque ‘ appeared in a 1906 dissertation titled , ” The Grotesque in the Poetry of Robert Browning ” by Lily B . Carmpbell. Grotesque fell into a kind of ‘ border – land ‘ between the comic and the ugly and fearful things. In 1970 Michael Steig made an attempt to give a psychological definition to the grotesque in his article “Defining the Grotesque: An Attempt at Synthesis” saying “The grotesque involved managing the uncanny by the comic. More widely: a) When the infantile material. is extremely threatening .comic techniques, including caricature, diminish the threat through degradation or ridicule; but at the same time, they may also enhance their anxiety through their aggressive implications and through the strangeness they lend to the threatening figure…” The term absurd which has now shed its constricted meaning to oppose to reason comes very close to the grotesque so that the ‘Theater of the Absurd’ of which Brecht, Beckett and lonesco are members, could almost be called the theater of the grotesque. This admixture of absurdity and menace in The Birthday Party is found quite very well.

There is a beautiful blending of comedy, terror, absurdity and menace in The Birthday Party by Pinter. It’s his second full-length play written in 1957 and published in 1959. These opposing elements of fun and terror have greater operation areas in this play. It extends to engulf all relationships, all sequences, and all actions. One remember Pinter’s own words in this context: “Everything is funny; the great earnestness is funny; even tragedy is funny”. But among the comedy there is the terror, terror of unknown things.

In ‘The Birthday Party’, Meg and Petey run a boarding house in their small, sleepy seaside town. They have only one lodger: the reclusive, bitter Stanley, hiding away from the world outside. All changes, though, with the arrival of two mysterious visitors, the charming Goldberg and the menacing McCann. Stanley is immediately on edge, suspicious that the men are there for him, but Meg is too delighted by her new guests to pay him any heed. Goldberg convinces Meg to throw Stanley a birthday party, though he insists it isn’t his birthday. As the festivities barrel forward, out of anyone’s control, the celebration turns dark and a game of blindman’s bluff grows violent as Stanley’s past catches up with him, threatening to shatter him inside and out.

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Symbols in Red Oleanders

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Red Oleanders

Symbols are the very soul of Tagore’s plays. His philosophy towards life is expressed through different symbols. As K.R.Srinivasa Iyengar says it is “not the logic of careful plotting , but the music of ideas and symbols is the ‘soul’ of his drama” . A symbol works through suggestion or association that can have layer after layer meanings. It expresses even the inexpressible sensation in a very convenient way. Thus, a symbol is a vital literary tool to make a drama highly meaningful. And the symbols employed by Tagore in his plays like ‘The Post Office’ , ‘Chandalika’ , ‘Chitra’ and ‘Red Oleanders ‘ not only appeal to our intuition, they also touch the soul. Tagore’s ‘Red Oleanders’ , originally written as ‘Raktakarabi’ is a powerful and intense play in one act, published in 1925. The conflict between free human spirit and machine like existence; juxtaposition of rural and urban life which shows the social, political and economic effects of the scientific and industrial development are delineated in this play. It also portrays elements of Tagore’s idea of nation and political freedom as against the British rule. However symbols in Red Oleanders are often found and hence considered as a symbolic drama in the true sense of the term as it contains a plethora of symbolism merging one another.

In its first appearance the play had the title ‘Yakshapuri’ – an imaginary city full of wealth. Later on,Tagore changed the title to ‘Nandini’ after the name of the heroine who challenges the system in Yaksha town. In 1923, when the play was published for the first time in the magazine ‘Probashi’ , the title was changed to ‘Raktakarabi’ – a red flower. Tagore himself took on the task to translate the play into English and gave it the title of ‘Red Oleanders’ . It can be suggested that this reconstruction of the play’s title gives the play a more symbolic temperament than the preceding ones as it indicates the beautiful and toxic nature of the flower and its association with beauty and death in the play.

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Gender Identity in Twentieth Century Literature

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Gender Identity

The term ‘gender identity’ means a person’s self conception of his or her own masculine or feminine identity. The term was first used in 1965 by John William Money and was first introduced by J. Stoller in his book ‘Sex and Gender’ in 1968. It not only defines male or female but also it’s an umbrella term for people whose gender identity or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth. For centuries human society has tended assign certain roles, behaviour, morality and even feelings and emotions to certain gender. By doing so they used the biological distinction of sex between male and female to construct social distinction of gender. As Judith Butler argued in her essay ‘Performative Acts and Gender Constitutions’ (1988) that we don’t invent these social roles, they are invented for us. Gender identity “is a performative accomplishment” , The technical term ‘performative’ means for Butler an act that not only communicates but also creates an identity. So through performing certain acts as mentioned by the society man not only communicating to others some aspects of identity but also constructing that very identity. And gender studies promotes a neutral view of gender and identity. Thus the 20th century witnesses the emergence of gender consciousness.

Female identity as represented in 20th century literature

Simone de Beauvoir in her ‘The Second Sex’ (1949) wrote “one is not born, but rather becomes a woman” . The role of ‘woman’ comes from a collection of behaviours imposed upon them by society and into which they are socialized. But in the 20th century women were much more educated and self empowered. Identity became the key issue as more and more woman became aware that stereotypes and conventions of femininity to which they were expected to conform was positively damaging their own development.

In 1963 Betty Friedan published her ‘The Feminine Mystique’ (1963). American wives present their symptoms of frustration and depression to gain recognition as an identifiable syndrome. Betty Friedan diagnosed the problem as essentially one of personal identity, a schizophrenia caused by conformity to the accepted notion of femininity.

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Yeats’s symbolism

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William Butler Yeats is regarded as one of the most important symbolist of the modern period of English literature. Yeats’s symbolism is the way of conveying new ideas which want to say more than what sees the eye and which wants to suggest something beyond the familiar. It is Yeats’s symbolism that helped him to express the richness of man’s deeper reality, something mystical in essence. As he himself said that as a poet his purpose is that “i have no speech but symbol, the pagan speech I made/ Amid the dreams of youth”( Upon a Dying Lady,1917). So in order to comprehend his symbolism, one has to be acquainted with his own version of myths, legends, occultism, theosophy, magic and history which he created through his lifelong study and quest.

Yeats had a great interest on mysticism, occultism, symbolism and he widely read books on these subjects. In 1887 he joined the Theosophical Society and Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1890. The purpose of this associations was to experiment with the spirit world through occult researches. The Golden Dawn was however more active in its research for symbols. According to them certain symbols evoked certain kinds of visions or dreams. Yeats with his friends made many experiments to see if same kind of dreams would result in many people from similar symbolic stimulus. This society believed in “two pillars”, one symbolized water which in other ways stood for peace, night, silence and indolence; and the other, fire represents passion, energy, music and day. This study gave him a vast bucket of symbols stocked with multiple antithetical and secret meanings. Yeats also delighted in creating puzzles through symbols which would be interpreted in unlimited number of ways. Yeats’s study on Cabalism, Neoplatonism and oriental philosophy also helped him to draw symbols. Thus in articulating the pattern of his own symbolism Yeats heavily relied upon what he learned in this organizations.

Yeats was also influenced by the French symbolist movement. Although Yeats later questioned great many techniques of the French symbolists, and also abandoned certain ideas but he seems to have accepted the basic symbolist proposition which is that “the great symbol is not contained in the poem but is the poem itself”.

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WB Yeats’s Irish Nationalism

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WB Yeats’s Irish Nationalism in his autobiographical writings.

WB Yeats

William Butler Yeats is the famous Anglo-Irish poet of the modern period and the pillar of the Irish literary establishment. He is not only a poet but also has an immense contribution in Irish nationalism. Although he lived the longer part of his life in England yet he was deeply rooted to Ireland and never ceased to be an Irish poet. His spirit of nationalism never led him to forget his land. He wanted to build an Irish nation through the revival of their own tradition and culture by means of creating their own identity as a nation. It’s rich source of legends, myths, Gaelic culture, landscapes were his constant companions. All these national characteristics made him to create a heroic Anglo-Irish literary culture that would awaken the soul of his country.

Yeats was being raised through a time of profound political turmoil and transformation. He witnessed the period of the Land War in the early 1880s and the rise and fall of the great parliamentarian, Charles Stewart Parnell. And in Yeats’s family political discussion was intermittent that moulded his idea of nationalism from childhood. Although he was born in Dublin, the mountains and lakes of Sligo always attracted him where they used to go in the summer. He called Sligo ‘the land of heart’s desire’. In 1890 when he was in London walking along Fleet Street he heard ‘a little tinkle of water’ , his imagination took him back to the place of lost childhood, the isles of Innisfree in county Sligo and he wrote the poem, ‘The Lake Isle of Innisfree’ . As he wrote in ‘Reveries Over Childhood and Youth’ he wanted to create “a national literature that made Ireland beautiful in memory, and yet had been freed from provincialism by an exacting criticism, a European pose”.

In 1885 Yeats comes into contact with John O’Leary, a Fenian who returns to Ireland after five years of imprisonment. He introduces Yeats to a number of people like Maud Gonne, Douglas Hyde. It was O’Leary who inspired him to study Irish literature and folklore and Hyde who gave him access of the oral folk to create a literature of their own, thereby shaping Yeats as an advanced nationalist. O’Leary also introduced him to the poetry of Thomas Davis and to the Young Ireland Society. He even joined the secret Irish Republic Brotherhood in 1896. WB Yeats’s Irish nationalism can be seen in his autobiographical writings where he passionately called himself “a nationalist of the school of John O’Leary”.

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BHU MA English Entrance Exam Question Papers With Answer

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Banaras Hindu University

Well, after completing the graduation Master degree in English Literature in a good university is the most popular degree and career option. And Banaras Hindu University is one of the most renowned universities in India. So here are the BHU MA English entrance exam question papers with answer from 2010 to 2017 in pdf form. Question papers of the previous year will help you to crack the entrance exam easily. Almost 50% of the questions come from the previous year papers. Practicing through the BHU sample papers will make the candidate get in tune with the structure and the marking scheme of the question papers. Thus aspirants will get to prioritize certain topics which are very important for the entrance exam.

However, apart from these question papers you need a full coverage of the History of English literature starting from the Old English to the Post Modern period. Read the texts in your syllabus in its historical context . You should have a basic knowledge of the socio-cultural background, major literary works and the literary movements of the particular ages. The Indian and American literature, literary theories and criticisms are also important.

These BHU MA English entrance exam question papers with answers will help you to understand the syllabus. All you have to do is to click on the download button. Several important points have also been discussed on the below of the question papers and some of the names of the authors are written beside the particular work.

BHU PET will be conducted by the Banaras Hindu University in online mode. This year it will be held from August 16 to 31.

10 Shakespeare Facts You Never Knew

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Shakespeare facts

William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English artist, dramatist, and and actor broadly viewed as the best author in the English literature and the world’s most noteworthy dramatist. He is regularly called England’s national artist and the “Bard of Avon” (or basically “the Bard”). Here are some interesting Shakespeare facts.

  1. Shakespeare wrote a curse for his grave, challenging anybody to move his body from that last resting place. His inscription was:
    “Good friend for Jesus’ sake forbear,
    To dig the dust enclosed here:
    Blest be the man that spares these stones,
    And curst be he that moves my bones.
  2. In 1592 he abruptly turned up in London as an actor and writer. Be that as it may, poor William didn’t have it simple – his envious adversaries, known as the ‘University Wits’, criticized and ridiculed his work. One author, named Robert Greene, alluded to him as ‘an upstart crow’!
  3. There are the individuals who question whether William Shakespeare was really the creator of the plays or credited to him. Different contenders incorporate the ‘Oxford school’ – recommending Edward de Vere, seventeenth Earl of Oxford was a superior contender.
  4. Shakespeare used to wear a gold loop stud in his left ear – an imaginative, bohemian look in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. This style is prove in the Chandos representation, one of the most popular delineations of Shakespeare.
  5. Shakespeare wedded Anne  Hathaway when he was 18. She was 26 and three months pregnant with Shakespeare’s youngster when they wedded. Their first youngster Susanna was born six months after their marriage.
  6. There are more than 80 varieties recorded for the spelling of Shakespeare’s name. In the couple of signatures that have survived, “Willm Shaksp,” “William Shakespe,” “Wm Shakspe,” “William Shakspere,” “Willm Shakspere,” and “William Shakspeare”. There are no records of him consistently having spelt it “William Shakespeare”, as we know him today.
  7. By 1592, Shakespeare was accepting his first artistic analysis with dramatist Robert Greene, condemning Shakespeare for being a ‘jack of all trades’– an inferior tinkerer with the work of others.
  8. Shakespeare’s parents were John and Mary Shakespeare (nee Arden). John came to Stratford from Snitterfield before 1532 as an untrained glover and a shoemaker of leathers. He flourished and started to bargain in farm items and fleece before being chosen for a civic position.
  9. Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway had three children together – a child, Hamnet, in 1596, and two girls, Susanna and Judith. His only one granddaughter Elizabeth – little girl of Susanna – passed on childless in 1670. Shakespeare in this manner has no descendants.
  10. Bardolatry’ was a term begat by George Bernard Shaw to outline the reverence held by numerous Victorians for anything Shakespeare.

Here is one extra for you.

Not many individuals understand that apart from composing his numerous plays and  sonnets, Shakespeare was likewise an actor who performed his very own considerable lot plays just as those of other playwrights. There is proof that he played the ghost in Hamlet and Adam in As You Like It.

Amazing Shakespeare Facts

Top Shakespeare Facts