Thursday, Dec 01, 2022
Outlook.com
Review

Knowing The Unknown

One of Hindi literature’s early modernists grapples with urbanity, caste and sexuality

Knowing The Unknown
Knowing The Unknown
outlookindia.com
2018-08-03T15:29:36+05:30

Shekhar’s entry to the world of English nearly 80 years after its advent in Hindi tells you about the distance bet­ween the sensibility zones of two languages which on other occasions intersect each other. It is strange that Ageyaya, a true polyglot, ignored his first and most iconic novel while translating his novels Apne Apne Ajnabi and Nadi ke Dweep and his poems into English. This gap has now been add­ressed with Snehal Shingavi and Vasudha Dalmia translating this avant-garde novel. Shekhar had taken the Hindi world by storm when it appeared in 1941. It brought a revolution in the way novelistic characters would be created henceforth. It is not surprising that his patron was Jainendra, whose novels were a significant departure from Premchand. Interestingly, Pre­m­chand encoura­ged Jainendra, while constantly arg­uing with him. It was again Premchand who first published Agyeya and gave him this name. His short story was sent from jail. Jainendra gave it to Premchand, who called the aut­hor of the story Agyeya (unkn­own), as the author did not want to disclose himself while publishing it.

Shekhar was also the announcement of the arrival of an authentic modernist voice in Hindi literature. Prem­ch­and had created a language of fict­ional prose, but Agyeya took it to a different level. Premchand created a language which could be an honest witness to the reality around us, but Agyeya for the first time posed the problem of a language which could see also the eye—that is, looking at reality. Agyeya, through Shekhar, demonstrated that novels could think.

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