Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Dr. Ketaki Datta's Review of Prof. Dr. K. V. Dominic & Dr. Mahboobeh's (eds) Multicultural Studies on Three Nobel Laureates: Rabindranath Tagore,Toni Morrison and Alice Munro

Prof. Dr. K.V. Dominic & Dr. MahboobehKhalegi, eds. Multicultural Studies on Three Nobel Laureates: Rabindranath Tagore, Toni Morrison & Alice Munro. New Delhi: Authorspress, 2016, 327 pp. Price: Rs. 1200, $ 60. HB. ISBN: 978-93-5207-217-0.
Dr. Ketaki Datta

This book is a novel attempt in the arena of ‘criticism’, focusing on the works of three Nobel Laureates like Rabindranath Tagore, Toni Morrison and Alice Munro at one go. Tagore’s versatility and his contribution to various genres of literature stands unquestioned, is beyond doubt. And again, the critical domain is swamped by numerous articles on his multifaceted talents. Tagore winning Nobel Prize in 1913 was not just a matter of pride for Bengal or India as a nation or Asia, by and large, but, his literature and philosophy, his poetry and music stand unique with universal appeal till date.
          This book contains eight thought-provoking research articles on Tagore [1861-1941] making us think anew about his multifarious creations. All articles are unique in their own way but Nalini Nambiar’s “Rabindranath Tagore, the Transcendental Ecologist,”   “Classic Representatives of Womanhood: A Critical Examination of Tagore’s Heroines in Short Stories” by K. V. Dominic, one of the editors of the book, are quite contemporary in their dealing with the topic, as modern tools of critical theory like Ecocriticism and Feminism came handy for them. Six other articles are also good, no doubt.
          Writing on Toni Morrison [born 1931], a Nobel Laureate in 1993, is not at all easy as  the ‘black identity’ which she emphasizes in her novels and short stories lies embedded in her growing-up years in rural belt of Ohio. The local touch of the soil, the conceit of the ‘colour of skin’ all find considerable place in her writings. Apart from Nobel Prize, she had also bagged Pulitzer Prize, American Book Award and Presidential Medal of Freedom at different times. Thus, to justify critical analyses of her works, it is essential to have a thorough knowledge of the deprivation of the Afro-Americans in those times, role of a ‘black’ woman writer to raise her voice in protest against all inequalities based on race, identity and colour. Eleven papers on Morrison are there in this volume and five of them are on The Bluest Eye, the most widely read novel by her, which already has been able to carve a niche in the syllabus of Afro-American studies in quite a few universities, here and abroad. And all these five essays judge the novel from five different thought-provoking angles. Though the six other essays are no less scholarly in merit, Swati Samantaray’s “The Search for Identity: An Appraisal of Toni Morrison’s Novels” and Mohammad Roshan’s “Postcolonialism and Identity Crisis in Toni Morrison’s Beloved” embrace wider aspects in respective fields of discussion and analysis.
          Alice Munro’s [born 1931] short stories are read widely in the West, but in India, she is not yet so popular among the literature-lovers. Naturally, all the four essayists have done a commendable job by highlighting different perspectives of Munro’s writing. J. Pamela’s “Elective  Solitariness in Alice Munro’s Dear Life” is a pleasant read apart from its scholarly appeal.

          One must read the book thoroughly to get a solid taste of literary articles  on three Nobel Laureates  from three different parts  of the globe. Kudos to Dr. K. V. Dominic and Dr. Mahboobeh Khalegi for their untiring effort to make this joint editorial endeavour a success. The publisher has brought out the book in a smart jacket and legible fonts. 

Dr. D.C. Chambial's Review of S. Kumaran's (ed) Philosophical Musings for a Meaningful Life: An Analysis of K. V. Dominic's Poems

S. Kumaran, ed. Philosophical Musings for a Meaningful Life: An Analysis of KV Dominic’s Poems. Ann Arbor, MI 48105 (USA): Modern History Press, 2016. Pp. 219. USD $29.95.

Review by:
Dr D. C. Chambial: Editor Poetcirt, Maranda – 176 102 (HP)
(Published in 29.2 (July 2016) issue of Poetcrit)

Dr. Kumaran has done great service to the contemporary Indian English poetry by editing this book on our contemporary poet, Dr.  K. V. Dominic. The book has 24 articles by various critics and one interview with the poet that throws light on his poetic philosophy and creative art. He tells his interviewer: “The main objective of our life is happiness and we can attain this happiness best by serving others” (210); besides, “Man has to learn a lot from Nature, especially from the animal world” (211). In his introduction, PCK Prem observes that “Workers, farmers, laborers, and the exploited encourage him to write and write” (15), and in his article on Winged Reason, he observes that Dominic’s poetry manifests “a humanitarian view of men in distress” (53). Kumaran traces Dominic’s humanism in Winged Reason and observes: “the analysis reveals the poet’s faith in didactic poetry and ascertains the relevance of his writing” (23). Sudhir Arora also explores Winged Reason critically and affirms: “The poet in Dominic is an angel who searches for the angelic qualities in men” (29). In Multicultural Symphony, Dr. Arora finds that the poet “is grieved when he sees the present India that has now become ‘a hell of intolerance and religious fundamentalism’”, and the poet is resolved “to win the hearts of his readers by virtue of his ‘content’” (39). Chambial studies Dominic’s book, Write Son, Write, and infers, in his study, that his poetry is full of “humanitarian philosophy steeped in contemporaneous societal consciousness” (45). TV Reddy, in his study of Winged Reason and Write Son, Write, argues that “his poems are a strong testimony of his socialistic ideas, to his leanings toward communistic ideology, and to his earnest zest as a social reformer” (61). Sugandha Agarwal opines that Dominic’s poetry addresses “the entire humanity about its prevailing issues and problems in society . . . and [he] believes that the real wealth of a nation is its citizens” (78).
Rob Harle, in his paper on Dominic’s poetry concludes that his “poems are important additions to literature and to the growing global movement to bring about positive change and equality for all individuals” (84). In her article, Dr. J. Pamela holds that “His requiems are therapeutic, for they console the losers; they are philosophic, for they impart truths of value; . . . which inspires the reader. . .” (94). Bhaskar Roy Barman has discussed some poems in his article from Multicultural Symphony, Winged Reason, and Write Son, Write  and finds these poems as Dominic’s “representative poems” (105). Dr. S. Ayyappa Raja also studies the same three volumes in his analysis; he comments that “the readers could understand the social consciousness of the poet. He is very much concerned about the evils of the society which affect millions of people” (115). For Arbind Kumar Choudhary, who compares Dominic with several contemporary poets in a passing reference, “His forceful voice will remain ever ringing in the womb of time” (122) and also studies his poetry from the perspective of ecology and social issues (197). “Dominic’s poems have a strong philosophical base, as his mind is steeped in the doctrines of Advaita Vedanta philosophy,” (123) observes Anisha Ghosh Paul in her article; and, then, says that he “never romanticizes Kerala nor aggrandizes his fellowmen, but gives us a rather realistic portrayal of his home State” (186). Joe Palathunkal interprets Dominic’s poetry with reference to Pablo Neruda’s definition of poetry as “rebellion”. Dominic’s poetry “is an all-encompassing world view . . . [where] reticence will be a corollary of rebellion because you cannot really rebel against the other as the other is part of you” (136). For Patricia Prime, his “books reveal Dominic’s curiosity about the things people do and say,  . . . ” (143). “Through his poems, Dominic motivates humans to realize the value of God’s gifts. Man should preserve nature instead of destroying it” (153), observes Mahboobeh Khaleghi.
Sangeeta Mahesh feels that his “poems are full of feelings and emotions and directly touch the heart, compelling the reader to think and act” (155) and that he “is the poet of humanity, peace and harmony” (165). Radhamany Sarma is of the view that Dominic establishes oneness with the society “by projecting the primary, the necessities, pitfalls to be ameliorated and redeemed” (179). S. Barathi explores his poetry from eco-critical perspective and points out that Dominic “looks at men as ego-centric and wants them to become eco-centric” (189). Rincy Mol Sebastian also examines his poetry from the same perspective and says: “Here the poet’s purpose is to convey the inner and outer connection between nature and humanity” (194). According to Kavitha Gopalakrishnan, Dominic stresses the “need of coexistence and the need of cultivating empathy and benevolence for a harmonious, peaceful life” (208).

The book is a milestone in the evaluation of KV Dominic’s poetry. 

Dr. Sulakshana Sharma's Review of K. V. Dominic's Who is Responsible? (A Collection of Short Stories)

Review of Who is Responsible: A Collection of Short Stories
Dr. Sulakshna Sharma
(Published in 29.2 (July 2016) issue of Poetcrit)
K. V. Dominic’s book, Who is Responsible? (2016) is his maiden collection of fifteen short stories. Many of these stories, according the author, “have been published periodically through . . .  [his] own edited journals as well as through other international refereed journals, both print and online” (Preface). Dominic has “used several themes and focused on many issues which are universal and at the same time frequently occurring in . . .  [his] own State, Kerala” (Preface). The themes are mainly socio-political and socio-economic. The tone is satirical and, at times, didactic.
            The author has enlisted a number of themes in the preface to his book on which his stories are based. Succinctly, the various themes can be put under the following main headings: unemployment, Diaspora and its repercussions, devaluation and the frustration of highly educated youth in the highly literate State like Kerala; superstitions, immorality and modernity, discrimination on the basis of caste and social status, the follies in the Indian marriage system, communism versus democracy, corruption and political exploitation of the weak and the downtrodden, plight of the poor, wild life and its conservation, the Hindu religious philosophy of karma et cetera.
            The characters and their social milieu are plausible and interesting. Every story brings into light a bunch of fresh problems and themes are explored and realized by its characters to the fullest. Every story leaves a stinging question that forces its reader to rethink his/her role and contribution towards the society. For example, at the end of his short story, “Ammu’s Birthday” (35), an English Professor, Dr. Sankar asks his class about the story he had just read for them. The students, referring to the story as an ordinary one, insisted that they wanted “to hear something merry and pleasant” as “tragic incidents” are rife in newspapers (38). Perturbed by such responses, Dr. Sankar tries to explain the need of such a “tragic” story, thus:
“My dear students, I honour your reactions. What Joseph said is true. This is just an ordinary story. I am not revealing the author’s name. And what relevance has an author in a work as per New Criticism? The author has mentioned as a footnote that the story is based on a tragedy at a village in North Kerala. As Meera has complained we are reading such tragic lives every day. Dear students, don’t forget the fact that our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thoughts, as Shelley has written. The more we read such things the more compassionate and humane we should become. Such literature purges our mind and we get karunyam (compassion) rasa. We should not turn our faces to miseries and tragedies of others. Such tragedies are part of the flow of the system and as participatory beings we should flow with the system. Mysterious are the ways of the Creator and our little intelligence can’t find justifications for the multitudinous activities of the Almighty. Hope you are satisfied with my answers,” Dr. Sankar ended his lecture (39).
Clearly, the aim of the author as a “social critic” has always been the betterment of his society, State and nation.
            Most of the stories have a somber tone. They exhibit various socio-political-economic vignettes and are brimming with moral implications: ‘Who is Responsible?’ (11), ‘A Good Samaritan’ (19), ‘Best Government Servant’ (25) ‘Ammu’s Birthday’ (35), ‘An Email from Senthil Kumar’ (40), ‘Joseph’s Maiden Vote to the Parliament’ (50), ‘Matthews, the Real Christian’ (56), ‘Our Dear Bhai’ (66), ‘Sanchita Karma’ (73), ‘Selvan’s House’ (85) and ‘Twisted Course of Destiny’ (103). In comparison to the above mentioned short stories, the following stories put forward the message of the significance of rational thinking, morality, compassion and humanity in a more jovial and a light-hearted manner: ‘Fire Your Horoscope!’ (45), ‘School Entrance Festival’ (78), ‘The Twins’ (104) and ‘World Environment Day’ (112).
            In conclusion, the book is a true mirror of the society that writhes under the burden of economic insecurities and lack of good governance. Most of the stories in the book can be adapted for small plays, skits, and eve TV serials—aiming to spread social awareness on the burning issues and rampant evils in the Indian society and the Indian political system. Moreover, the stories can be easily incorporated in English textbooks of any school or college. Its copies in the school and college libraries will contribute towards nurturing the young minds of India and making them more humane, considerate and socially aware citizens. I congratulate K. V. Dominic for the success of his noble pursuit.
Dr. Sulakshna Sharma is Associate Editor as well as Review Editor of Poetcrit, an international refereed biannual journal on literary criticism and contemporary poetry edited and published by Dr. D. C. Chambial, Maranda, Himachal Pradesh, India.