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Indian Writing In English

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The renaissance in modern Indian Literature begins with Raja Ram Mohan Roy. The infiltration of western culture, the study of English literature, the adoption of western scientific techniques, gave a jolt to India’s traditional life. It shocked us into a new awareness, a sense of urgency, and the long dormant intellectual and critical impulse was quickened into sudden life and the reawakening Indian spirit went forth to meet the violent challenge of the values of modern science and the civilization of the west. Ram Mohan Roy’s interests and inquiries ranged from the rights of women and the freedom of the press to English education, the revenue and judicial systems in India, religious toleration and the plight of the Indian peasantry. He could be named as the first of the Indian masters of English prose. He wrote a brief autobiographical sketch on request. Derozio Kashiprasad Ghose, M.M.Dutt are the other eminent writers of the time. They are called the first Indo-Anglian writers of verse and prose.

Derozio’s most ambitious work was The Fakir of Jungheera. Kashiprasad Ghose was one of the first Indians to publish a regular volume of English verse. The shair and other poems (1830) is a great contribution to the level of ‘Gorboduc’ in English literature. Michael Madhusudan Dutt was equally a talented writer. His Meghanad Badha is a great Bengali epic and he wrote in English The captive Ladie. There followed a lot of writers. ‘Derozio’s men’ who aspired to become eminent in the field. Besides writers, political leaders, religious men also wrote in their own way for the enlightenment of the public. Dadabhai Naoroji was a teacher turned political leader and a good orator. Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, his disciple Swami Vivekananda were great orators and their speeches carried the essence of truth. Vivekananda essayed English verse too eg : Kali, the mother, The song of the Sanyasin, My play is Done etc. The Dutts – Toru, Aru, Abju were very important people in Indo-Anglian poetry. Toru lost her brother and sister very early. Her father and cousin used to write poems and poetry ran in her veins. She translated French renderings into English ; ‘A sheaf gleaned in French Fields’. She died very young, at the age 21, of consumption. Her Sanskrit translations came posthumously – “Ancient Ballads and Legends of Hindustan’.

Her translations are marvellous and beyond comparison for a young sick girl. Her mastery in Sanskrit, French, English, Bengali were commendable. Romesh Chunder Dutt her cousin was another talented writer. He wrote three novels – Todar Mull, Sivaji, and Pratap Singh in Bengali, A history of civilization in Ancient India, India in the Victorian Age, The Economic history of British India etc. Other notable figure was Man Mohan Ghoss, brother of Sri. Aurobindo, Love Songs and Elegies, Perseus and Adam, Nollo are his major works. Modern Indian literature begins with – Raja Ram Mohan Roy The first of the Indian masters of English Prose – Ram Mohan Roy First Indo – Anglian writers of verse and prose – Henry Derozio – Kashiprasad Ghose – Michael Madhusudan Dutt Derozio’s most ambitious work – The Fakir of Jungheera The first Indo-Anglian poet – Henry Derozio –––– is considered to be the Keats in Indian literature – H. Derozio Sheaf gleaned in French Fields was a famous work of – Toru Dutt Yeats greeted –––– as one of the most lovely works in the world – Man Mohan Ghose’s ‘Songs of Life and Death’.

Tagore (1861-1941)
Tagore was a poet, composer, novelist, short story writer, playwright philosopher, lecturer, educator and painter. He wrote poetry as a child and he was only fifteen when he published some of his poems. It was as a poet and the author of ‘Githanjali’ he visited England Tagore in 1912, and met Rothenstein, Yeats and others. In 1913, he was awarded the nobel prize. He is well known as the Founder of Viswa Bharathi University at Shantiniketan. In his own language, Tagore was a master – musician expressing whole world experience in sheer rhythm of word and phrase. He had written a whole range of literature works ‘Manasi, Chitra, Gitanjali, Smaran, Senai are some of his poems, He wrote probably the largest number of lyrics ever attempted by any poet. Next only to Gandhiji and Sir Aurobindo, Tagore has been the supreme inspiration to millions in modern India.

The crescent moon, The Gardener, Fruit gathering, Lover’s Glift, The post office, The cycle of spring, Red Oleander-his plays, The Home and the world, Gora, Hungry stones etc. are his novels, Philosophy, Sadhana Personality, Creative unity, The Religion of man and autobiography, (Reminiscences). His most prestigious work ‘Gitanjali’ is a sequence of 103 lyrics translated from selected lyrics in his own Bengali works. The term ‘Gitanjali’ rendered as ‘song offerings’ by Tagore. The main theme is the relationship between the human soul and God. It is centred in life and the Lord is not only within oneself though to seek whom one has to travel far and knock at everydoor, but in the very midst of men and women among ‘The poor, lowliest and lost’. Nature and man to the poet are only means of approaching. God and are not important for their own sake. He was equally good at his prose writings, poems and shortstories. His most ambitious work of fiction was undoubtedly ‘Gora’. It is to the Indian fiction’, What Tolstoy’s ‘War and Peace’ is to the Russian. Tagore holds the prime position among the Indo-Anglian writers with his end less talent for creativity.

Tagore was awarded the Nobel Prize in – 1913 Gitanjali Songs are mainly poems of – Bhakti Tagore is the founder of ––––– University – Viswa Bharati at Shantiniketan Tagore was awarded Nobel Prize for his poetic collection – ‘Gitanjali’ Gitanjali contains a sequence of ––––– lyrics – 103 –––– introduced Tagore’s work to English audiences – W.B.Yeats Tagore dedicated the English version of Gitanjali to –––––– – Rothenstein ‘Where the mind is without fear’ is the –––– poem from Gitanjali – 35th ‘Where the mind is without fear’ is a – Prayer of the poet for his country The freedom mentioned in the poem is – Freedom from fear

Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950)
Sri Aurobindo is the one uncontestably outstanding figure in Indo-Anglian literature. Though he came out successful in the Indian Civil service examinations, he did not join the service, but decided to devote himself to the task of freeing India from foreign yoke, making revolutionary speeches and hinting at armed Sri Aurobindo rebellion as a means of attaining it. Songs to Myrtilla, Urvasie, Love and Death, Savitri, Bhavani Mandir, The Life Devine, The synthesis of yoga, Essays on the Gita, The secret of Veda, The future poetry, The foundations of Indian culture, Renaissance in India, and Heraclitus are some of his major works.

To many of his contemporaries, Sir Aurobindo was a power out of the ordinary, a star that dwelt apart. The politician, the poet, the philosopher, and the yogi were all of a piece, and made the sum – the power that was Rishi Aurobindo. He turned the political movement in the country towards the right goal. In his philosophy and yoga, he turned the current of human progress itself towards the goal of super manhood. His poetry was meant to bridge the present and the future, self divided present life and the life Divine that is to be. Considered merely as a poet and critic of poetry, he would rank among the supreme masters of our time. There are five blank verse plays, Perseus the Deliverer, Vasavadatta, Rodogune, The viziers of Bassora, and Eric. The Life Devine is a treatise on metaphysics, and work of prose art. In his prophetic treatise.

The Future Poetry, he tried to indicate the possible extended frontiers of the poetry of the supramental age. His ‘magnum opus,’ ‘Savitri’ ; A Legend and a symbol is in three parts, divided into 12 Books. Savitri is symbolic of the true wife’s devotion and power – unflinching devotion and power even to overcome the greatest of evils, Death. And Satyavan is Truth. To Aurobindo, poetry is the Mantra of the Real. It is the breath of Greater Life. He was a great poet, a mystic, a even greater revolutionary who was the first to declare openly that complete autonomy, free from British control should be the aim of the freedom struggle, got arrested but came out as an even powerful yogi. He settled in his Ashram at Pondicherry, from there his voice reached the entire world through his writings till his death in 5th December 1950. Sri Aurobindo’s colossal work of mystical philosophy is – ‘The Life Divine’ The Prestigious work of Aurobindo is –––– – ‘Savitri’ an epic poem, containing about 24,000 lines ‘The future poetry’ is a great work of – Sri Aurobindo Aurobindo’s ‘Savitri’ is – Symbolic of the true wife’s devotion and power.

Sarojini Naidu (1879-1949)
Sarojini Naidu whose birth centenary, was celebrated in 1979, is one of the first exponents of the tradition of romanticism in Indian poetry. ‘The Golden threshold’, The Bird of Time, The Broken wing, The Feather of the Dawn are her poetic works. She began writing from an early age. In all poems, the emphasis is on song – the music of poetry, seen in the title and the lilting quality of her verse. Love is a dominant strain and the love poems in the different volumes can be studied together with, the themes of nature death. The range and variety of life find place in almost every volume. There is an attempt to Indian themes and English tradition. Politics has no place in her poems but nationalism is present in it. Her merits as a poetess is many. Her’s is a pan Indian vision, breath taking in its range, variety and colour. Almost all aspects of the Indian ethos are touched upon which refute the charge of escapism. The focus is on the keatsian principle of beauty in all things, be it wandering Beggars, Coin Grinders, or the Budha seated on a lotus, or the various objects and manifestations of nature. She is one of the first to see the common people of India with sympathy and invest their lowly profession with grace and beauty. eg : Palanquin Beares, coromandel fishers, Bangle sellers etc.

The single minded devotion to beauty makes her ignore the pain and boredom of daily labours. We are taken to a world of exotic music and splendour. True to her romantic muse, she recreates the past of India in terms of traditional practices and places of historic interest. The ‘past’ with its wondrous charm comes alive in her evocation of cities like Delhi, and Hyderabad in her depiction of Indian religious customs. eg : Raksha Bandhan, Vasant Panchami etc. The colour of the Indian landscape with its gulmohers, champakes, bulbuls, Koils, the dances with red roses, gem-tangled hair, glittering garments etc. splashes through her lyrics, eg : In a latticed Balcony, In the Bazaars of Hyderabad. Her vision of Nature with an eye for its loveliness, colour and charm is aesthetic than spiritual. It is in her love poems that her lyric impulse reaches its height. Love is a many stringed instrument in her stands. To her love is both agony and ecstasy, the emotions being felt in separation and union.

In her poetry, she has succeeded in recreating the glory of India with joy and intensity. The cadence and colour of her poetry predominates over intellectual musings, because hers is a lyrical genius. The last of the Indian romantic writers – Sarojini Naidu 1979 was the birth centenary year of – Sarojini Naidu Prominent themes of Sarojini Naidu’s poetry – Love, nature, nationalism ‘Coromandel Fishers’ is a ––––– song – Folk The poem ‘Coromandel, Fishers’ is taken from – The Golden Threshold and clarity and immediate effectiveness. Regarding themes and characters, there has been a conscious shift from the city to the village or a sharp contrast between the two.

The works of Venkataraman, R.K. Narayan, Mulk Raj Anand, Kamala Markandeya are suitable example. In some novels, Gandhian thoughts and feelings are there and R.K. Narayan made Gandhi a character in ‘Waiting for Mahatma’. The important events in the preindependent period and the freedom beautifully blended in most of the works of literature. There were a lot of writers, writing on Mahatma, his biographies, memoirs, criticial studies and discussions, apart from the immense mass of Gandhi’s, own writings and speeches. ‘Mahatma by D.G. Tendulkar, P.A. Wadia’s ‘Mahatma Gandhi,’ E.M.S. Namboodiripad’s ‘The Mahatma and the ‘the Ism’ are important studies on Gandhi. For the last 60 years Gandhi has been the subject of biographical and expository studies. Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)
Gandhiji was no writer, nor was he at anytime particularly interested in the act of writing. The period between the two world wars is called the ‘Gandhian Age’. The arrival of Gandhiji in the Indian struggle for freedom was a period of awakening. Life could not be the same as before, and every segment of our national life, polities, economics, education, religion, social life, language and literature acquired a more or less pronounced Gandhian hue. Several regional languages acquired a new versality and power and many of the political leaders of the Gandhian Age – Abul kalam Azad, Rajaji, Rajendra Prasad, Nehru and Vinoba Bhave – were themselves thinkers, writers, agitators and social reformers rolled into one.

The greatness of Gandhi was the greatness of an ordinary man who through a long process of trial and error, aspiration and endeavour, achieved a greatness indubitably his own. The story of his ‘Experiments with Truth’ is one of the imperishable classics of our time. In this autobiographical record, described in candid detail the events and circumstances of his life from birth to the launching of the non-coperation movement in India in 1920. The latter part of his life till his death is the history of India as well. So he was called as the ‘father of the nation’. The Gandhian impact on contemporary Indian literature has brought about results at various levels one result was ; a general preference for the mother tongue or regional language or bilingualism. And whatever the medium chosen, the stress has been more on simplicity

Gandhi as a man of letters Gandhi had no literary ambitions though he wrote some verse and a great deal of prose. In fact he was a journalist. He himself edited south African and Indian Journals, like the Indian opinion, Young, India and Harijan. His writings had no literary graces, suggestiveness, allusiveness or the power to conjure up associations. But whatever he wrote one could see a transparency and absolute sincerity and often a profound aspiration. His twin values of Truth and Non violence gave him a stand point from which he could speak or write about even trivialities and it is that which make his work alive for all time. His major work the Autobiography is written in Gujarati. His personality as revealed in his Autobiography is ethico-religious whether it is operating in the political, social or domestic sphere. Regional novels or bilingualism is the result of – Gandhian impact on Indian literature

’Waiting for Mahatma’ is an important novel with Gandhiji as a character, is written by – R.K. Narayan Gandhiji’s principles of Truth and non violence is reflected in – His autobiography and writings The period between the two world wars in India is called – The Gandhian Age ‘My Experiments with Truth’ is the autobiography of – M.K. Gandhi

Outstanding works of Nehru are – Glimpses of Word History – The Discovery of India – Autobiography – Letters from a father to a daughter

Drama written in the earlier period of Indian literature is not, meant for actual stage production. Madhusudan Dutt’s, Is this called civilization, Tagore’s Chitra, The post office, Sacrifice, Red Oleanders, Chandalika Muktadhara, Natir Puja etc. Aurobindo’s Perseus the Deliverer, Vasavadatta, Rodogune, The Viziers of Bassora and Eric were written in English as original dramatic creations. He was a prophet and a recluse and he stood apart in unique solitariness and anyhow his plays, were but a small fraction of his phenomenal literary output. Harindranath Chattopadhyay’s Five plays Sidhartha ; Man of peace, plays and playlets on the lives of the saints, are notable plays of the period. There are other playwrights too, Lakham Deb, Pratap Sharma, Nizzim Ezekiel, Gurucharan Das who tried their talents in plays of realism, comedy, tragi comedy, farce and historical play.

Jawaharlal Nehru (1889 – 1964)
The history of Nehru’s writings and speeches merges with his life, and his life likewise merges with the life of the nation. He was a fascinating writer too. Glimpses of world history, The Discovery of India, Autobiography, his speeches, Letters from a Father to a Daughter bears the varied talent of the great statesman.

He was tutored and given the best education that money could buy but he used those powers in his speeches, and literary works. He plunged into the cauldron of freedom struggle and politics and his literary pursuits came along with him……. written when he was in jail. Later his political involvement prevented him from writing more but was famous for his great speeches. He rose to the high office as the P.M. of India. He was an avid reader and appreciated quality in them. Many eminent writers were his friends and he used to write to them even in his busy political career. ‘The Discovery of India’ is one of the great works of – Jawaharlal Nehru ‘Letters from a father to a Daughter’ – who is the father and the daughter mentioned – Nehru and his daughter Indira Gandhi

Jawaharlal Nehru

Development of novel in India
The novel as a literacy phenomenon is new to India. At first there were the translation of western classics including novels, as a result of the western impact’ on India’s cultural front. It was in Bengal that the ‘literary renaissance’ first manifested itself. The first novel written in Bengali was Alaler Gharer Dula (1858) (spoilt son of a rich family). The first novel published in English was Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Raj Mohan’s wife (1864), followed by ‘Durgesa Nandini, Kapal Kundala, Vishavriksha, Anandamath, Devi Chaudhurani etc. by the same author. Tagore was a very considerable novelist too. ‘Choker Bali’ (Binodini) is his first success followed by ‘Yogayog’. Another great novelist was Saratchandra Chatterjee. ‘Srikanta, Grihadaha, Pather Datri, Bi pradas and Sesprasna’ are his works. Tarashankar Banerjee, Bibhu-

ti Bhushan Banerjee, Manik Banerjee, Naini Bhaumik were a few of the outstanding performers. Bibhuti Bhushan’s Pather panchali portrays two inforgettable characters, the children Apu and Durga. The vicissitudes of the Bengali Novel foreshadow more or less the vicissitudes of the Novel in India. Before 1947, the English models were the major outside influence on the Indian novel. After the independence, the more serious novelist has shown how the joy of freedom has been more than neutralized by the tragedy of partition. Novels whose action is set by the side of a river are a category by themselves. Nirad C. Chaudhuri has advanced the theory that, for the Aryans in India, the ‘river cult is a symbol of their pre Indian existence eg : R.K. Narayan’s novels centred in Malgudi -on-Sarayu, Raja Rao’s Kanthapura , the river Hemavathy is a person and a presence. History as the theme of creative fiction seems indeed to exercise a special fascination for many Indian novelists. R.C.Dutt’s, The slave girl of Agra, A.S.P. Ayyar’s Baladitya, Chanakya and Chandragupta try to recapture life in Ancient India. Tagore’s Home and the world, ‘four chapters’, present the issue between ends and means in politics in context of the revolutionary movements of the 20th century.

Mulk Raj Anand’s The sword and the sickle, K.A. Abbas’s Inquilab both roughly cover the politics of the twenties. Raja Rao’s Kanthapura is the best novel about the Gandhian civil disobedience movement, in the early thirties. Novels on the ‘partition’ horrors are numerous eg : Kushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan, Manohar Malgonkar’s Distant Drum, A bend in the Ganges. There are regional novelists like Tara Shankar (Bengal) K.S. Karant (South Canara), Thakazhi Sivasankara Pillai (Kuttanad) who have tried to immortalise in creative fiction the genius of particular regions or localities. Munshi Premchand’s Godan, Thakazhi’s ‘Rantitangozhi’, describes the life of the peasants in the difficult period of transition from the old feudalism to the new wage economy. Thakazhi’s ‘Chemmeen’ is a poignant record of the life of the sea faring folk on the coast of Alleppey. ‘Sanyasi’ has often figured Indian fiction. R. K. Narayan’s ‘The Guide,’ Raju is a ‘Swami’ by mistake. Kamala Markandeya’ s A silence of Desire and ‘possession, the Swamy is a faith healer.

––– is the seat of literary renaissance in India – Bengal The first novel written in Bengali – Alaler Gharer Dulal First novel published in English – Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s Raj Mohan’s Wife ‘Anandamath’ is a popular work of – Bankim Chandra Chatterjee ‘Pather Panchali’ is an outstanding work of – Bibhuti Bhushan Banerjee ‘Thakazhi’s –––– is an example of regional novel, which records the life of the sea faring folk on the coast of Alleppey – Chemmeen ‘A Train to Pakistan’ is a pitiless precise picture of – Indo-Pak Partition K.A. Abbas’s ‘Inquilab’ covers the politics of – The Twenties

Mulk Raj Anand (1905 – 2004)
Of the Indo-Anglian novelists Mulk Raj Anand has shown real talent, stamina and stern consistency of purpose. As with Bankim Chandra before him, political action took the form of writing novels. He wrote of the people, for the people, and as a man of the people. ‘Untouchable, coolie, Two leaves and a Bud, The village, Across the Black waters, are his novels. There are short stories too.

Mulk Raj Anand

His untouchable is the most compact and artistically satisfying , it is the shortest of the novels. As a writer of fiction, Anand’s notable marks are vitality and a keen sense of actuality. He is a veritable Dickens for describing the inequities and idiosyncrasies in the current human situation with candour as well as accuracy. The titles of his early novels seem to emphasize the universal as against the particular. He is a committed writer.

––––– is considered as a veritable Dickens in Indian literature – Mulk Raj Anand ––– is the shortest of Anand’s novels – Untouchable The events of a single day in the life of the low caste boy Bakha is the theme of Mulk Raj Anand’s novel – Untouchable Mulk Raj Anand’s novels describes the ––––– and ––––– in the contemporary society with accuracy – Inequities and idiosyncrasies The famous ‘Trio’ of Indo – Anglian literature – Mulk Raj Anand – R.K. Narayan – Raja Rao

Swami and friends, Bachelor of Arts, and The English Teacher are – A trilogy of Malgudi – on – Sarayu R.K. Narayan’s ‘The Guide’ won him – The Sahitya Academy Award in 1960 The mode of narration, Narayan uses in ‘The Guide’ – (1) Authorial – (2) Autobiographical ‘Malgudi Days’ is a –––––of R.K. Narayan – Short Story Collection

Raja Rao
A novelist and a short story writer, Rao too is a child of the Gandhian Age and reveals in his work his sensitive awareness of the forces let loose by the Gandhian Revolution as also of the thwarting or steadying pulls of past tradition. His major works are Raja Rao ‘Kanthapura, The serpent and the Rope, The cat and Shakespeare, The cow of the Barricades, and a collection of short stories. His short stories are marvellous. In ‘Javni’, he portrays a noble soul, a loyal domestic servant Javni. His half poetical, half whimsical approach to Gandhian politics sets the tone of Raja Rao’s first novel Kanthapura. The tremors of Gandhi’s impact on a south Indian Village are recorded here in the chatty language of an elderly widow, and we see everything through the film of her memory. His prose have a poised brevity an in candescent sufficiency. He turns sensibility itself into glowing prose. His ‘The serpent and the Rope’ is an ambitious and meritorious effort at achieving a total projection of India in vivid fictional terms and it is the most impressive novel yet written by an Indian in English. –––– is a veritable Grammar of the Gandhian Myth – Kanthapura The locale of action of novel ‘Kanthapura’ – Kanthapura Kanthapura is regarded as – A social and regional novel

R.K. Narayan (1906 – 2001)
R.K. Narayan is a man of letters pure and simple. He is one of the few writers in India who take their craft seriously, constantly striving to improve the instrument, pursuing with a sense of dedication for perfection. Swami and his friends is his first novel, Bachelor of Arts, The Dark Room, The English Teacher, Mr. Sampath, The financial Expert, Waiting for the R.K. Narayan Mahatma. The Guide, etc. He has also collected two volumes of his short stories, ‘An Astrologer’s Day, Lawley Road. He has been translated into several European and Indian languages. Swami and friends is the most enjoyable of the novels. He is a master of comedy who is not unaware of the tragedy of the human situation. He can present smiles and tears together. In Narayan’s novels, there is generally a flight, an uprooting, a disturbance of order – followed by a return, a renewal ,a restoration of normalcy. The soul of his fiction is the miracle of transcendence and the renewal of life, love, beauty, peace. –––– is R.K. Narayan’s ‘Caster bridge’ – Malgudi

According to Raja Rao, every village in India is rich in – Sthala – Purana ‘The cat and Shakespeare’ is written by – Raja Rao

Bhabani Bhattacharya (1906-1988)
His five novels – So many Hungers, Music for Mohini, He who Rides a Tiger, A goddess Named Gold, Shadow from Ladakh form rather an impressive achievement. The Sahitya Academic award to him in 1967 was a fitting recognition of his out standing achievement in the field of Indian fiction in English. He gives satirical and humorous sketches in his novels.

Among the critics and historians of literature are K.R. Sreenivasa Iyengar, C.D. Narasimhaiah and M.K. Naik. Other big names in Indo-Anglian writing include Ruskin Bond (The Room on the Roof) Amitav Ghosh (circle of Reason, Shadow Lines) Upamanyu Chatterjee (English August), Vikram Chandra (Red Earth and Pouring Rain), Shobha De, and Ginu Kamani. There are many other talented writers like Manjula Padmanabhan (The Harvest) Arundhati Roy (The God of Small Things), Rajkamal Jha (The Blue Bed Spread). Pulitzer Prize winning Jhumpa Lahiri (The Interpreter of Maladies, The Name Sake), Rohinton Mistry (Family Matters). Anurag Mathur (The Inscrutable Americans) Manil Suri (The Death of Vishnu), Ruchira Mukherjee (Toad in My Garden), Kavita Deswani (Everything Happens for a Reason). Recent works include Rushdie’s Shalimar the Clown and Kiran Desai’s Inheritance of Loss.

Manohar Malgonkar (1913-)
‘Distant Drum’ A Bend in the Ganges, Combat of Shadows, The princes are his prestigious works. There is a certain maturity about them, and in plotting as well as in telling his stories he displays an ability that compels recognition. In these novels he reveals a sound historical sense. Spy in Amber is his latest novel, a thriller after the manner of Ian Fleming.

Arundhati Roy
She is a novelist, activist. She won the Booker Prize in 1997 for her first novel The God of Small Things. Roy was born in Assam to a Keralite Syrian mother, the women’s rights activist Mary Roy, and a Bengali Hindu father, a tea planter by profession. She spent her childhood in Aymanam in Kerala, and went to school in Corpus Christi. She then studied architecture at the Delhi School of Architecture. Roy began writing The God of Small Things in 1992 and finished it in 1996. She received half a million pounds as an advance, and rights to the book were sold in 21 countries. The book is semi-autobiographical and a major part captures her childhood experiences in Aymanam. Contrary to some assumptions, Roy is not one of twins. This misinformation arose from the assumption that the character of Rahel is based on herself. We see this in the physical description of the character in her adulthood and also by some of this character’s interactions with her mother, Ammu. Books The God of Small Things (1997), The Greater Common Good (1999), The Algebra of Infinite Justice (2001), An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire (2004), The End of Imagination (1998), The Cost of Living (1999), Power Politics (2002), War Talk (2003).

The women novelists
Toru Dutt’s Bianca is considered to be the first novel written by a woman. It was unfinished. There followed a lot of women writers but only after the second world war that women novelists of quality have begun enriching Indian fiction in English. Kamala Markandeya is an outstanding novelist. ‘Nectar in a sieve, Some Inner Fury, A silence of Desire, Possession, A Handful of Rice, The coffer Dams are her popular works. Her marks as a novelist is the sufficiency and suggestiveness of her prose. Kamala neither repeats herself, nor turns her fiction into a formula. In her two novels – ‘Cry, the Peacock, and voices in the city’ Anita Desai has added a new dimension to the achievement of Indian women writers in English fiction. The intolerable grapple with thoughts, feelings and emotions is necessarily reflected in the language, syntax and imagery of her novels. Other novelists of repute are G.V. Desani (All about H. Hatterer) M. Ananthanarayanan, Arun Joshi, Khushwant Singh, O.V. Vijayan and Salman Rushdie.

Vikram Seth
He is an Indian poet, novelist, travel writer, librettist, children’s writer, biographer and memoirist. An unusually forthcoming writer whose published material is replete with un- or thinly-disguised details as to the personal lives of himself and his intimates Vikram Seth related in a highly engaging narrative voice. In each of Seth’s novels and in much of his poetry, there have been central or peripheral gay themes and characters. Seth is now best known for his novels, though he has characterised himself as a poet first and novelist second. He has published five volumes of poetry. His first, Mappings (1980), was originally privately published.His travel book From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (1983) was his first popular success and won the Thomas Cook award for travel writing. The first of his novels, The Golden Gate (1986), is indeed a novel in verse about the lives of a number of young professionals in San Francisco.

The novel is written entirely in rhyming tetrameter sonnets after the style of Charles Johnston’s 1977 translation of Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. The verse novel received wide acclaim (Gore Vidal dubbed it “The Great California Novel”) and achieved healthy sales. After the success of The Golden Gate, Seth took up residence in his parents’ house back in Delhi to work on his second novel, A Suitable Boy (1993). The 1349page novel is a four-family saga set in post-independence, post-Partition India, and alternatively satirically and earnestly examines issues of national politics in the period leading up to the first post-Independence national election of 1952, inter-sectarian animosity, land reform and the eclipse of the feudal princes and landlords, academic affairs, inter- and intra-family relations and a range of further issues of importance to the characters.

His most recent book, Two Lives, is a non-fiction family memoir written at the suggestion of his mother, and published in October, 2005. Seth’s considerable range is demonstrated by the meticulous historical accuracy of A Suitable Boy, with the finely nuanced cultivated-Indian English of the narrative voice and the entirely in-character voices of the principals of the story. In most of Seth’s writing (apart from An Equal Music, narrated in the first person by its central character), there is a strong, and always engaging and attractive, narrative persona.

Kiran Desai
She is a South Asian American author. Her novel The Inheritance of Loss won the 2006 Man Booker Prize. She is the daughter of the noted author Anita Desai, who short-listed for the Booker prize three times. Her first novel, Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard, was published in 1998 and received Kiran Desai accolades from such notable figures as Salman Rushdie. It went on to win the Betty Trask Award, a prize given by the Society of Authors for the best new novels by citizens of the Commonwealth of Nations under the age of 35. Her second book, The Inheritance of Loss, (2006) has been widely praised by critics throughout Asia, Europe and the United States and won the 2006 Man Booker Prize. The Inheritance of Loss : Among its main themes are migration and living in between two worlds and in between past and present. Set in the 1980s, the book tells the story of Jemubhai Popatlal Patel, a judge living out a disenchanted retirement in Kalimpong, a hill station in the Himalayan foothills, and his relationship with his granddaughter Sai. Another element in the novel is the encroachment on their lives by a band of Nepalese insurgents. Another concern of the novel is the life of Biju, the son of Mr. Patel’s cook, an illegal immigrant in New York.

Shashi Tharoor
Born in London in 1956, Shashi Tharoor was educated in Bombay, Calcutta, Delhi and the United States. Since 1978, he has worked for the United Nations. On 1 June 2002, he was confirmed as the Under-SecretaryGeneral for Communications and Public Information of the United Nations. The youngest ever Under Secretary General to be appointed in the UN, at the age of 22 he joined the United Nations- one of the most prestigious organizations of the world- and the world witnessed his meteoric rise through the years. At the age of 48, he was a candidate to succeed Kofi Annan as the next UN Secretary General.

Tharoor is the author of Shashi Tharoor numerous articles, short stories and commentaries in Indian and Western publications, and the winner of several journalism and literary awards, including a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His books include Reasons of State (1982), a scholarly study of Indian foreign policy; The Great Indian Novel (1989), a political satire; The Five-Dollar Smile & Other Stories (1990); a second novel, Show Business (1992), which received a front-page accolade from The New York Times Book Review and was made into a motion picture titled Bollywood; and India: From Midnight to the Millennium (1997), published on the 50th anniversary of India’s independence. On August 13, 2001 Penguin Books (India) published Tharoor’s latest novel Riot.

dence from Britain in 1947. The critic Malcolm Bradbury acclaimed the novel’s achievement in The Modern British Novel (Penguin, 1994): ‘a new start for the late-twentieth-century novel.’ The publication in 1988 of his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, lead to accusations of blasphemy against Islam and demonstrations by Islamist groups in India and Pakistan. The book itself centres on the adventures of two Indian actors, Gibreel and Saladin, who fall to earth in Britain when their Air India jet explodes. It won the Whitbread Novel Award in 1988. Salman Rushdie continued to write and publish books, including a children’s book, Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990), a warning about the dangers of story-telling that won the Writers’ Guild Award (Best Children’s Book), and which he adapted for the stage.His most recent novel, Fury, set in New York at the beginning of the third millennium, was published in 2001. He is also the author of a travel narrative, The Jaguar Smile (1987), an account of a visit to Nicaragua in 1986. Salman Rushdie is also co-author (with Tim Supple and Simon Reade) of the stage adaptation of Midnight’s Children, premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2002. His latest novel is Shalimar The Clown (2005), the story of Max Ophuls, his killer and daughter, and a fourth character who links them all. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Whitbread Novel Award.

Salman Rushdie
He was born in Bombay (now Mumbai) on 19 June 1947. His first novel, Grimus, was published in 1975. His second novel, the acclaimed Midnight’s Children, was published in 1981. It won the Booker Prize for Fiction, the James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction), an Arts Council Writers’ Award and the English-Speaking Union Award, and in 1993 was judged to have been the ‘Booker of Bookers’, the best Salman Rushdie novel to have won the Booker Prize for Fiction in the award’s 25-year history. The novel narrates key events in the history of India through the story of pickle-factory worker Saleem Sinai, one of 1001 children born as India won indepen-

Prizes and Awards
1981 Arts Council Writers’ Award 1981 Booker Prize for Fiction Midnight’s Children 1981 English-Speaking Union Award Midnight’s Children 1981 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (for fiction) (joint winner) Midnight’s Children 1983 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) Shame 1984 Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (France) Shame 1988 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) The Satanic Verses 1988 Whitbread Novel Award The Satanic Verses

1989 German Author of the Year The Satanic Verses 1992 Kurt Tucholsky Prize (Sweden) 1992 Writers’ Guild Award (Best Children’s Book) Haroun and the Sea of Stories 1993 Austrian State Prize for European Literature 1993 Booker of Bookers (special award made to celebrate 25 years of the Booker Prize for Fiction) Midnight’s Children 1993 Prix Colette (Switzerland) 1995 Booker Prize for Fiction (shortlist) The Moor’s Last Sigh 1995 British Book Awards Author of the Year The Moor’s Last Sigh 1995 Whitbread Novel Award The Moor’s Last Sigh 1996 Aristeion Literary Prize 1997 Mantova Literary Prize (Italy) 1998 Budapest Grand Prize for Literature (Hungary) 1999 Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (France) 1999 Freedom of the City, Mexico City (Mexico) 2005 Whitbread Novel Award (shortlist) Shalimar The Clown 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia Region, Best Book) (shortlist) Shalimar The Clown Shakuntala Shrinagesh, Santha Rao, Mrs. Ruth Prawer Jhabwala, Nayantara Sehgal, are other prominent women novelists of the period. –––– is the first novel written by a woman, Toru Dutt – ‘Bianca’ Author of ‘A Handful of Rice’ – Kamala Markandeya Nectar in a sieve, A silence of Desire and possession are the major work of – Kamala Markandeya ––––– is the first woman novelist in India – Toru Dutt ‘Cry, the Peakcock’ is a novel written by – Anita Desai

Emergence of prose in English in India
The western impact, the infusion of English literature and European thought and the resulting cross fertilisation have been the means of quickening the interplay and circulation of ideas and the emergence of a new literature, a new climate of hope and endeavour in the country, and a bold marching towards new horizons. From the great Ram Mohan Roy flowed divers streams of renascent activity – religious awakening, social reform, the new education, women’s emancipation, literary river,’ political consciousness’ – each carried forward by its own dedicated spirits. India is blessed with many great political personalities, religious men, ascetics, men of letters and scholars. R. Mohan Roy, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, M.N.Roy Gandhiji etc. and the list goes end less. Vivekananda’s appearance and speech in 1893 at the Chicago Parliament of Religions is part of history. Several volumes of his complete works, published by the Advaita Ashram comprise courses of lectures on different Yogas, on ‘Gita’ and numerous other essays. The great freedom movement brought various Orators to the front. Rajaji , Ranade, Gokhale, Tilak, Nehru are only a few of them. Besides orators and journalists, there are historians, philosophers, the jurists, the biographers, the auto-biographers, essayists, critics, scientists, economists and sociologists.

Dr. Radhakrishnan (1888 – 1975)
Dr. Radhakrishnan is a philosopher – Statesman with an international reputation, a scholar with a phenomenal memory, a resourceful and eloquent and effective speaker, and a voluminous writer with an uncanny flair for lucidity and epigrammatic strength. The range of his interests, the sweep of his mind, the comDr. Radhakrishnan mendable Catholicity of his tastes and the temper and quality of his eloquence have marked this man of ‘words and wisdom’ a Guru for his contemporaries. ‘The Philosophy of Rabindranath Tagore, The Reign of Religion in Contemporary Philosophy, Indian Philosophy, Eastern Religion and Western thought, the English renderings of Bhagavad Gita, Dhamma Pada, the Principal Upanishads, Brahma Sutra were some of his works. An Idealist View of Life is unquestionably his most valuable contribution to constructive philosophy. He was indeed the greatest, gift given to Indians and to the world. Dr. Radhakrishnan’s birthday is celebrated as Teachers’ Day (September 5)

Tagore’s popular play is ‘Chandalika’, the title means, – An untouchable girl Vivekananda’s historical speech at the Chicago Parliament of Religion was in – 1893 Indian born Salman Rushdie’s novel ––––– is about the children born in the midnight hour of India’s tryst with Destiny’ on 15 August ’47. – Midnight’s Children Revolutionary – Rishi – Poet; that sums up the life of – Sri Aurobindo –––––– is considered as the standard treatises on the Indian Philosophy – Dr. Radha Krishnan’s Indian Philosophy’ (1923, 27) Dr. Radhakrishnan is a rare combination of – Philosopher – States man – Writer – Scholar

more of a national than personal history’, the environment being given precedence over the product. The continent of circe is described as ‘an essay on the peoples of India. Apart from his shortcoming as a writer – a sort of love hate relationship with India and people of India – his great merit as an intellectual is that he is not Nirad C. Chaudhuri ever too lazy to avoid doing his own thinking or too timid to hesitate to give outspoken expression to his own views. He has the supreme faith of the moral man in an amoral society. The Autobiography of an unknown Indian’ is an eminent work of – Nirad C. Chaudhuri The ‘Grand Solitary’ among Indian Writers – Nirad C. Chaudhuri ‘A passage to England’ is written by – Nirad C. Chaudhuri Nirad Chauduri’s –––––– is described as ‘an essay on the peoples of India. – The continent of Circe

Indo-Anglian Poetry
Though Indo-Anglian poetry can claim to have a history of 150 years, the early poetry has often been criticised for its derivative quality. Only ‘echoes’ could be heard and not an authentic ‘voice’. The poetry of post Independent period has won critical recognition. The poetry of Ezekiel, Ramanujan, Kamala Das and Parthasarathy proved that Indo-Anglian poetry is no longer ‘a tongue in English chains’. The tradition of the Indo Anglian poetry was born under a romantic star in the early Eighteen hundreds. It was Derozio that lisped in the manner of Byron followed by Madhusudan Dutt and others. The last quarter of the 19th century saw the birth of genuine lyrical poetry in Toru Dutt. The early decades of 20th century witnessed a rich harvest of mystical poetry written after the romantic and Victorian manner. Indo -Anglian poetry has been strengthened by

Nirad C. Chaudhuri (1897 – 1999)
Nirad C. Chaudhuri is the ‘Grand Solitary’ among Indian writers. The Autobiography of an unknown Indian, A passage to England, The continent of circe, To live or not to live’ are some of his works. The Autobiography made him suddenly famous. It is confessedly, modernist as well as neo symbolist trends. Ezekiel, Kamala Das, Ramanujan, Lal are some of the neo-symbolists. Today new poets outnumber the novelists and other men of letters. It was a trickle in the fifties, a stream during the sixties and now almost a flood.

on, is one of his best poems – A simple narrative poem in which superstitious practices still out grown one juxtaposed with the scientific developments. –––––– and ––––– and ––––– may be regarded as crucial point of departure in the history of Indo-Anglian poetry – Ezekiel’s An Exact Name’ (1965) – Ramanujan’s ‘The striders’ (1966) – Kamala Das’s ‘Summer in Calcutta’ (1995) ‘Night of the Scorpion’ is a simple narrative poem by – Nizzim Ezekiel The recurring note in Ezekiel’s poem – The pain that urbanism inflicts on modern man –––– is an incident from the rustic life – The theme of the poem ‘Night of the Scorpion’. Ezekiel uses ––– genre of poems reveal his flair for the comic – Indian English

The ‘new’ poets
Since the end of world war II, these has been a visible stir everywhere. A new generation comes up with a striking individuality of its own, a sharpness in its features, an angularity in its gestures, a tone of defiance in its speech, a gleam of hope in its eyes. The Indo-Anglian poet also strived for self – expression in English. Several of the poets in the various regional languages – Balamani Amma, K.M. Panikkar, Umashankar Joshi, Sri Sri V.K. Gokak, Ramdhari Singh Dinkar, Amrita Pritam – are efficiently bilingual. In the post 1947 period, Indo – Anglian poetry acquired a new currency and even respectability. One grew familiar with the names of Nizzim Ezekiel, Dom Moraes, Leo Fredricks, A.K. Ramanujan, Shiv K. Kumar, Arun Kolatkar, Keki Daruwalla and a few others. The most successful of the New poets, Dom Moraes has published five volumes – A Beginning, poems, John Nobody, The Brass Serpent and poems and excellent biographical works Son of My Father and Never at Home.

Nizzim Ezekiel (1924 – 2004)
Another significant new poet has, A Time to change, Sixty poems, The Third, The unfinished man, The exact name, to his credit. An artist who is willing to take pains, to cultivate reticence, to pursue the profession of poetry with a sense of commitment, Ezekiel’s poems are lucid, and are splendidly evocative and satisfyingly sensuous. The recurring note in Ezekiel’s recent poems is the hurt that urban civilization inflicts on modern man dehumanizing him, and subjecting his virtues to population and devaluation. He is a painstaking craftsman in whose poems we find form. His poetry is simple, introspective and analytical . He is highly disciplined and unpretentions, His skilful use of prosody, his restraint, conversational style, his mastery of irony, his purity of diction and perfect control over his ’emotions place him on the top of the modern, Indo – Anglian poets. The night of the Scorpi-

A.K. Ramanujan (1929 – 1993)
The dominant theme of Ramanujan’s poetry is his preoccupation with the past, his personal as well as racial. He is one of the most talented of the new poets. “The striders’ a collection of poems in Tamil and Relations, (poems) are some of his great works. He settled in Chicago, and his ‘exile’ there has made him consider ‘a search for one’s roots’ an integral part of his poetry. There is an awareness of the presence of the past in the present, and of the strength of a rich culture and tradition, informs the poetry of Ramanujan. His poetry is an attempt to repossess the usable past at personal and racial levels. ‘Snakes, River, conventions of Despair, Small scale reflection are some of his beautiful poems. Authentic poetic language is the hallmark of Ramanujan’s poetry. He has an enduring concern with Tamil classical poetry and medieval Kannada literature, his poetic technique has absorbed the motifs and stylistic devices of both. All this results in a forceful, meaningful, personal voice and Ramanujan has established himself as one of the most talented of the new Indo-Anglian poets.

R. Parthasarathy (1934-)
Of the poets who cultivate an extreme austerity in style, Parthasarathy is probably the most successful. ‘The first step-poems, 1956-66, is his poetic collection. His best poems reveal an uncommon talent and a sensibility that deliberately puts shackles on itself. His most ambitious effort is Towards an Understanding of India. He is a conscientious artist with a scrupulous aesthetic taste. His poetry is the articulation of his predicament, of an exile who has alienated himself from his culture. His poetry is an intense search for identity, a search for roots in his nature, culture environment and language. The search is realised by an objective probing of the personal as well as the historic past. The inner conflicts that are inherent in such a search provide the basic tension of his poetry. The dominant theme of Ramanujan’s poetry is – Preoccupation with the past.

The striders is a poetic collection of – A.K.Ramanujan Authentic poetic language is the hallmark of ––– poetry – A.K.Ramanujan’s ‘A search for one’s roots’ is an important factor of ––––– poetry – Ramanujan’s ‘Towards an understanding of India’ is the prestigious work of – R. Parthasarathy 1965, her first volume of poetry in English, She has wielded great influence as a leading poet constituting the modern trend of Indian poetry in English. She is a confessional poet speaking out her intimate private experiences with astonishing honesty and brutal frankness. She began writing under Kamala Das the pen name Madhavikutty, a bilingual writer. She has written 30 novels in Malayalam. Her poetic collections, Summer in Calcutta, The Descendants, The old play house and other poems, short story collection A Doll for the child Prostitute and other stories’ and My Story her autobiography. Her skill as an artist perfectly matched with her deep insight into human predicaments – social and psychological. She is basically a poet of love, an emancipated poet, feminist, and an iconoclast. Kamala Das’s poems are mainly – Autobiographical The place which Kamala Das always refers to in her works – Malabar The two dominating themes of Kamala Das’s poetry are – The Search for identity as a woman – Nostalgia for her ancestral home in Malabar Kamala Das is a –––– poet – Confessional ‘My story’ is the autobiography of – Kamala Das Madhavikutty is the pen name of – Kamala Das Kamala Das is an ––––– poet – Emancipated

Kamala Das (1934 -)
Kamala Das is perhaps the most interesting and appealing among Indo-English poets. Both her life and her works are so controversial and unconventional as to invite comments and criticism from readers and critics. Kamala occupies a position of considerable importance in post independent Indian writing in English. Ever since the publication of Summer in Calcutta in

Jayanta Mahapatra
Mahapatra is a very subjective poet, draws his images from his experiences in life which makes him difficult to interpret. His four volumes of verse are titled

Close The sky, Ten by Ten, Swayamvara and other poems, Counter measures, A rain of Rites’. Silence is the most important concept in Mahapatra’s poems. Some of his poems are the genuine products of his imaginative apprehension of evil in the Indian society. Gieve Patel, A.K. Mehrotra , Lal, K Satchidanandan, Priya Sarukkai Chabria and Marylin Noronha, GJV Prasad are some of the other notable writers.

Shashi Deshpande (1938-)
Shashi Despande’s first novel The Dark holds no Terrors presents an unusual character, Sarita who defies her mother to become a Doctor, defies her caste to marry outside, and defies social conventions by using Boozie to advance her career. Sarita and Manu had made a love marriage, but something soon went wrong. He is a failure and she has to earn both bread and butter for the family, her liaison with Boozie means nothing. Since he is after all impotent, but it gives a vicous sadistic twist to Manu’s relations with her. She escapes for a while to her parental home, and her mother’s curse echoes still and the ghosts of the past will not leave her in peace.

She strips herself of her self deceptions, guilt complexes, and emotive illusions, and Shashi Deshpande’s language itself flickers like a candle, and blobs of remembrance melt and form icicles of furrowing thoughts. Sarita cannot forget her children or the sick needing her expert attention, and so she decides to face her home again. In this unpredictable world, even total despair can open up a new spring of elemental self confidence Sarita says . “If we can’t believe in ourselves, we’re sunk”. Shashi Deshpande began her literary career in 1970. At first, she wrote short stories. She wrote four children’s books. The Dark holds No Terrors is her first novel. Her other novels are That Long Silence, If I Die Today, Come up and Be Dead and Roots and Shadows. ––––– is the most successful poem of Mahapatra – Man of his nights ––––– is an important concept in Mahapatra’s poems – Silence ‘The Dark holds No Terrors is a –––– novel – Memory

–––– is the first novel of Shashi Deshpande – The Dark holds No Terrors Sarita and Manu are the principal Characters of – The Dark holds no Terrors In the novel ‘The Dark holds no Terrors Sarita is a –––– by profession – Doctor Manu is a character with ––––– in Dark holds no Terrors’ – Dual Personality The neo-symbolists in Indo-Anglian poetry are – Ezekiel, Kamala Das, Ramanujan and Lal. The first Indo-Anglian poet – Henry Derozio The history of Indian writing – literature in English begins with – Raja Ram Mohan Roy. –––––– is considered to be the Keats in Indian literature – Derozio ‘Sheaf gleaned in French Fields’ was a famous work of – Toru Dutt Yeats greeted ____ as one of the most lovely works in the world’ – Man Mohan Ghose’s Songs of Life and Death’ Tagore was awarded the Nobel prize in – 1913 Gitanjali Songs are mainly poems of – Bhakti Sri Aurobindo’s colossal work of mystical philosophy is – ‘The Life Divine’. The prestigious work of Aurobindo is – ‘Savitri ‘ an epic poem, containing about 24,000 lines. The last of the Indian romantic writers – Sarojini Naidu

The period between the two World Wars in India is called – The Gandhian Age ‘My experiments with Truth’ is the autobigraphy of – M.K. Gandhi The events of a single day in the life of the low caste boy Bakha is the theme of M.R.Anand’s novel – Untouchable’. ____ is R.K. Narayan’s ‘Casterbridge’ – Malgudi Swami And Friends, Bachelor of Arts, and The English Teacher are – A trilogy of Malgudi-on-Saryu ____ is a veritable Grammar of the Gandhian Myth – Kanthapura ‘A Train to Pakistan’ is a pitiless precise picture of – ‘Partition’ (Indo-Pak) The locale of action of novel ‘Kanthapura’ – Kanthapura Kanthapura is regarded as – A social and regional novel According to Raja Rao, every village in India is rich in – Sthala – Purana R.K.Narayan’s ‘The Guide’ won him – The Sahitya Academy Award in 1960. Kamala Das poems are mainly – Autobiographical The place which Kamala Das always refers to in her works – Malabar The two dominating themes of Kamala Das’s poetry are (1) The search for identity as a woman. (2) Nostalgia for her ancestral home in Malabar

ISBN The ISBN (International Standard Book Number) is a unique machine-readable identification number, which marks any book unmistakably. This number is defined in ISO Standard 2108. The number has been in use now for 30 years and has revolutionised the international book-trade. 166 countries and territories are officially ISBN members. The ISBN accompanies a publication from its production onwards. The number consists of ten digits: Group identifier Publisher identifier Title identifier Check digit The ISBN is divided into four parts of variable length, which must be separated clearly by hyphens or spaces: ISBN 0 571 08989 5 or ISBN 90-70002-34-5 The number of digits in the first three parts of the ISBN (group identifier, publisher prefix, title identifier) varies. The number of digits in the group number and in the publisher prefix is determined by the quantity of titles planned to be produced by the publisher or publisher group. Publishers or publisher groups with large title outputs are represented by fewer digits.

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