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Synopsis :Kamala Markandaya & Bharati Mukherjee

Synopsis :Kamala Markandaya & Bharati Mukherjee

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Published by: keyts2020 on Jun 18, 2009
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As
far as Kamala Markandaya and Bharati Mukherjee are concerned, they are two distinguishedwomen novelists of the post-modern era in the realm of Indo-Anglian fiction. There is greataffinity between the two regarding the themes prevalent in their creations. Let’s take them one byone.Born as ‘Kamala Purnaiya’ in 1924 in Chimakurti, a small southern village in India, KamalaMarkandaya learned traditional Hindu culture and values. She was an elite Brahman. Betweenthe years of 1940-1947, Markandaya was a student at the University of Madras, where shestudied history. While studying at the University, she worked as a journalist, writing short fictionstories. In 1948 Markandaya decided to further pursue her dream of becoming a writer bymoving to London, where she met her husband Bertrand Taylor, a native Englishman.In her lifetime, Kamala Markandaya published ten novels, all dealing with post-colonial themesin modern India. She is most famous for her novelNectar in a Sieve
 ,
which was her third novelwritten, but the first novel published.Nectar in a Sievebecame a bestseller in March, 1955,earning her over $100,000 in prizes. Some of her other novels include:A Silence of Desire,Some Inner Fury,A Handful of Rice,Possession,The Coffer Dams,The Nowhere Man,TwoVirgins,Pleasure City, andThe Golden Honeycomb.Kamala Markandaya is respected by many for her outspoken voice among the Indian people andhas often been credited by many for bringing recognition to Indian literature. Charles Larson of American University in Washington wrote, “Most Americans’ perception of India came throughKamala Markandaya; she helped forge the image of India for American readers in schools and book clubs.” After Markandaya’s husband died in 1986, she made frequent trips to India, whereshe continued to write. On May 16, 2004 Kamala Markandaya died in London at the age of 79.Although she is no longer alive, her voice will always be heard through her novels. She willcontinue to raise awareness about India and teach others in the West about a culture otherwiselargely unfamiliar.Through her novels, Markandaya brings to light the complication of post-colonial and traditionalIndian social hierarchy as well as the implications prevalent within both systems. These themesare most noticeable in her novelA Silence of Desire,where she addresses the issues of socialclasses of India and the controversies surrounding this social hierarchy.A Silence of Desiretells of a life journey of a loving, wealthy, middle class family, livingcomfortably and enjoying many luxuries. However, things quickly worsen when Dandekar losesrespect for his wife, Sarojini, after finding a mysterious picture of a strange man, whom he believes to be her secret lover. This story focuses on the strong bond of love and dedication between the family, and the willingness they have to make things work between them.Her novelA Handful of Riceis one of the first novels to exemplify the plight of rural peasants tothe new urban lifestyle. She traces the path of the antagonist in the novel, Ravi, a rural peasantwho moved to the city to escape the vicious cycle of starvation in his village. When he moves tothe city he befriends an orphan who grew up in the city. Ravi's life becomes full of robberies,alcohol, and prostitutes. He sleeps on the sidewalk and eats perhaps one meal a day. Thingschange when Ravi falls in love with Nalini, the daughter of a man he robs. Ravi begins to changehis ways and begins working for Apu, Nalini’s father. Ravi marries Nalini and realizes that evenwhile working, it is very difficult to make a decent living. Ravi becomes obsessed with greed andconstantly battles between going back to his old way of life with easy money and freedom andliving a middle class life. Markandaya conveys the stress of society’s standards throughJayamma, Nalini’s mother. Jayamma never seems to care about the hardships their family
 
encounters but is more concerned that the neighbors do not find out about their struggles. AsRavi and Nalini have children, financial stresses increase and Ravi becomes more stingy andgreedy. He then associates with his old gang friends and starts to abuse Nalini. Finally, Ravi isforced to choose between his money and his son, a choice that in the end claims his fate.Whereas inA Handful of Rice, Markandaya wrestles with issues of social hierarchy, in the novelShalimar she accurately portrays two parallel societies in India. The main character, Rikki, isintroduced to both of these societies during his adolescence. Rikki was born into the life of fishing. His father, brother, and cousins were all fisherman. However, at a young age his entirefamily falls victim to the might of the sea. Rikki is taken in by a family of missionaries. Thesenew guardians show Rikki a completely new life. Markandaya shows that the presence of bothcultures has painted the beautiful picture of what has become India. This novel depicts theevolution and development of Indian society and culture by describing the changes of Shalimar.This novel is a nice addition to her already extensive list of work.Markandaya’s best-known work,Nectar in a Sieve, is a heart wrenching tale that depicts thehardships and joys of a woman’s life in rural India. The story follows the life of a girl,Rukumani, throughout her whole life and all that she witnesses growing up in a changing India.Ruku marries at thirteen to a man she has never met before and moves far from her family to thecountry. There she has many children whom she and her husband struggle to feed when droughtstrikes and numerous crop cycles are destroyed. Ruku witnesses the impact that post-colonialinfluences have on India when a tannery is built in their village and changes their life drastically.Ruku watches her children struggle to survive on what little food they have and her infant babyeventually dies of starvation. Her daughter, rejected by her husband for being unable to bear achild, resorts to prostitution to help supplement the family. Finally, Ruku and her husband leavetheir village for the city, only to find more depravity and hardship.Markandaya’s bulk of work is symbolic of her own life duality: born and raised Indian andmarried to a British man. InSome Inner Fury
 ,
Kamala concentrates on traditional India in early post-colonialism and the struggle to create their own identity, separate from the British. In thisstory, which is semi-autobiographical, she talks about a young Indian woman, Mira, who falls inlove with an Englishman, Robert, and in the end she chooses her people over him. Markandayaalso emphasizes the inherent dissimilarities among Indians and the English during the post-colonial period, by constantly drawing boundaries throughout her writing about the potentialfusion of these two very different cultures, and in particular a differing social and political status.Whereas inNectar in a Sieve, Markandaya subtly alludes to the need for Indians to forge their own path in the post-colonial era, inSome Inner Fury, Markandaya is much more explicit aboutthe need to break from the British rule and influence. This is most noticeable as she decides toleave the man she loves and instead, follow her own people.In all of Kamala Markandaya’s works, a common theme of social distinctions and the differences between people living in poverty and wealth, as well as the difficulties each class undergoes is prevalent. Markandaya is an evolutionary and a great preceptor of the environment surroundingher as she thinks ahead to environmental and societal problems that globalization anddevelopment bring.
Bharati Mukherjee
was born on July 27, 1940 to wealthy parents, Sudhir Lal and BinaMukherjee in Calcutta, India. She learned how to read and write by the age of three. In 1947, shemoved to Britain with her family at the age of eight and lived in Europe for about three and a
 
half years. By the age of ten, Mukherjee knew that she wanted to become a writer, and hadwritten numerous short stories.After getting her B.A from the University of Calcutta in 1959 and her M.A. in English andAncient Indian Culture from the University of Baroda in 1961, she came to the United States of America. Having been awarded a scholarship from the University of Iowa, earned her M.F.A. inCreative Writing in 1963 and her Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature in 1969.Whilestudying at the University of Iowa, she met and married a Canadian student from Harvard, Clark Blaise, on September 19, 1963. The two writers met and, after a brief courtship, married withintwo weeks. Together, the two writers have produced two books along with their other independent works. Mukherjee's career a professor and her marriage to Blaise Clark has givenher opportunities to teach all over the United States and Canada. Currently she is a professor atthe University of California, Berkeley.Mukherjee's works focus on the "phenomenon of migration, the status of new immigrants, andthe feeling of alienation often experienced by expatriates" as well as on Indian women and their struggle. Her own struggle with identity first as an exile from India, then an Indian expatriate inCanada, and finally as a immigrant in the United States has lead to her current contentment of  being an immigrant in a country of immigrants.Mukherjee's works correspond with biographer Fakrul Alam's catagorization of Mukherjee's lifeinto three phases. Her earlier works, such as theThe Tiger's Daughterand parts ofDays and Nights in Calcutta, are her attempts to find her identity in her Indian heritage.The Tiger's Daughteris a story about a young girl named Tara who ventures back to India after many years of being away only to return to poverty and turmoil. This story parallels Mukherjee'sown venture back to India with Clark Blaise in 1973 when she was deeply affected by the chaosand poverty of Indian and mistreatment of women in the name of tradition, "What isunforgivable is the lives that have been sacrificed to notions of propriety and obedience". Her husband, however, became very intrigued by the magic of the myth and culture that surroundedevery part of Bengal. These differences of opinion, her shock and his awe, are seen in one of their joint publications,Days and Nights in Calcutta.The second phase of her writing, according to Alam, encompasses works such as
Wife,
the shortstories inDarkness, an essay entitled "An Invisible Woman," andThe Sorrow and the Terror, a joint effort with her husband. These works originate in Mukherjee's own experience of racism inCanada, where despite being a tenured professor, she felt humiliated and on the edge of being a"housebound, fearful, affrieved, obsessive, and unforgiving queen of bitterness".After moving back to the United States, she wrote about her personal experiences. One of her short stories entitled "Isolated Incidents" explores the biased Canadian view towards immigrantsthat she encountered, as well as how government agencies handled assults on particular races.Another short story titled "The Tenant" continues to reflect on her focus on immigrant Indianwomen and their mistreatment. The story is about a divorced Indian woman studying in theStates and her experiences with interracial relationships. One quotation from the story hints atMukherjee's views of Indian men as being too preoccupied to truly care for their wives andchildren: "'All Indian men are wife beaters,' Maya [the narrator] says. She means it and doesn'tmean it."InWife, Mukherjee writes about a woman named Dimple who has been suppressed by such men

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