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Monday 28 March 2016

How Literature shaped me ?!!

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How Literature shaped me???

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Soon, I am going to complete my journey of 5 years of studying literature. So, now I must look back and observe changes in me due to literature.
Though before writing, let me confess that Literature is a 'huge Ocean', no one can discover &knew its vastness, secrets and mysteries in totality. I have quenched my thirst from this ocean by drinking a few sips of it. So, my views also are limited as per what I've read.

Let me tell you something about my personal life that after studying Western theories  & literature I've become more LIBERAL, open-minded towards everything. Now I don't resist changes. I travel every day 110 KM in a bus ( since six years of B.A.(3), B.Ed (1), M.A. (2))., so meet various people every day. Many people pass comments about female's modern clothes or excessive use of mobiles or their new way of approaching the world.

But I don't agree with them. Now I laugh at silly matters like girls should not wear jeans or not to use mobiles. Now I can read PATRIARCHAL Language, that how it operates& I start deconstructing it. I strongly now believe in the concept of 'Individualism'- one has the right to do whatever he/she likes in her personal lives. I try to bring margin(female) into the centre, and then try to read from their point of view.

The very curious thing I observed last month, I don't remember the date but it was a time when Dilip Barad sir was in conference at Chennai, so I left Department early and sat in Rajkot local intercity bus at 4:30. it so happens that in the bus there was a 'Lady Conductor' (Which is a very recent phenomenon that Females are recruited as a conductor in buses, earlier it wasn't so)-i inquired & she told me that she's from 'Modasa' & it is her first trip to Bhavnagar. The main point is that a middle-aged man, sitting in my side seat started arguing with her about the ticket. He wanted to go to a very small village, which didn't mention in the ATM- Automatic Ticket Machine. So, she requested to take a ticket of next stop but he denied & quarrel went on...(how can she give ticket if the place is not in machine & the man refuse to pay a ticket of further place)

Now the main point comes is that:- He started complaining to me about the government that why the government is allowing girls as a conductor?? Govt. should stop this. Females look good as a teacher, not as a conductor. They cant do this tough job and many more...

I was listening to his complaints and laughing sarcastically over his thinking without letting him known. Soon, this discussion was joined by another man, who joins the bus from Press Quarters. He was young & looking educated, doing some good job. He spoke a line, which is centre of my attention that -"If females will start doing a job, then what will we (men) do???- cooking in the kitchen!!!!("LANGUAGE BEARS WITHIN ITSELF THE NECESSITY OF ITS OWN CRITIQUE"(Post Structuralism-Derrida)- This is a LOOSE STONE ( Aporia) to Deconstruct their views. Now I got the loose stone, so I'll undermine, subvert, blast this entire(building) discourse & create ( New discourse)something which was hidden meaning. (Thank u, Derrida!!!)

While studying CULTURAL STUDIES, there was a line that "NOTHING IS INNOCENT, THERE IS A DEEP POLITICS BEHIND EVERYTHING". I read this incident like this that the real problem is not a ticket or extra money. but the problem is that the privileged position of men is now being challenged by women. The real problem is that your JOBS are taken away by someone, so you despise them in one or another way.

Conditioning girls from childhood as soft, delicate, giving toys rather than hard tools, teaching household things is ALL WELL PLANNED CONSTRUCTION.
IT IS A POLITICS BY MEN TO SECURE THEIR JOBS. As time is changing women are competing with men in every respects. so their jobs are taken by females. 
So, this incident I observe opens up the gate for new discourse. Many people were there on the bus. But they don't read this the way I've read. So, this is a gift of literature & various theories that I can think in this way, which is obviously anti- established order.
I am telling to you since beginning literature shaped me, but almost forget to tell you  What is Literature??

Literature is not just imaginative stories written in leisure time only for entertainment. But it is a reflection of time, place and society in which we are living. Literature is a mirror or photographic image of society. equally, literature is also an x-ray image portraying ugly, darker sides of society.
Still, whatever definition we try to give literature will remain incomplete because its exactly like 5-7 blind men defining Elephant, by touching it. Whatever aspect they will touch upon, will define like that. So, lets it leave it aside and come back to the point.

Even though I am studying literature for five years, texts and theories which I've studied in M.A have affected & shaped me more. In B.A. while reading my focus was largely on aesthetics. I choose the text on the principle that whether it gives aesthetic delight or not. & even after completing reading books like 'Namesake', 'Heart of Darkness', 'Kim', 'Moby Dick' or 'The Bluest Eye', I wasn't able to derive anything except story(summary) part of the book. After reading, if someone tells me to explain by implying theories then I cant.
But now when I revisit the texts, I can realize its worth in a far better way.
Dr Jakyll & Mr Hyde taught me how humans have two faces- one public and other personal. It gave me a deep understanding of the human psyche. 'Ghasiram Kotwal' taught me that at what extent one can fall to gain power. At the same time Vijay Tendulkar being Brahmin criticizes (Peshwas) his own Brahminical traditions. Which taught me to remain very much open towards self-criticism. Rather than hiding hypocritically, accept it. It will give the opportunity to learn from the past & make a better tomorrow.

Literature taught me to be an observer, not judgmental. Rather than preferring one over others, I try to view both neutrally. While reading books, I unintentionally put myself into the place of character & start thinking that what if I were in his or her place. which cultivated in me a humanitarian approach. Now I strongly believe that Humanity is more important than religion, authority or so-called morality. The finest example of it is Hester Prynne, of The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Even though she has committed Adultery, literature will always stand for humanism. Even how society tags individual is also interesting to observe.
Another change now I can see in myself is challenging and doubting everything. Now everything is held to be open for question.

While returning from Bhavnagar to my village every night, I pass nearby a village temple. Rather than viewing them as God, whenever I pass from there I remember a line from The White Tiger for Hanuman-  "...You will find an image of a saffron-coloured creature, half man half monkey: This is Hanuman, everybody's favourite god in darkness. Do you know about Hanuman sir? He was the faithful servant of the god Rama, and we worship him in our temples because he is a shining example of how to serve your masters with absolute fidelity, love and devotion. These are the gods they have foisted on us, Mr Jiabao. Understand, now, how hard it is for a man to win his freedom in India." - So, my faith or say blind faith is somewhat disturbed by reading literature. Two ideas are at a clash in my mind. Emotional and rational thinking goes parallel in my mind, but now I see rational thinking overpowering, winning over the other.

Because now I believe in the words of Franz Kafka, that..."I think we ought to read only the kinds of books that WOUND and STAB us. If the book we are reading doesn't wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?..... we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like a suicide. A book MUST BE THE AXE FOR THE FROZEN SEA INSIDE US".

Books like Harry Potter taught me that LIFE IS ALL ABOUT CHOICES YOU MAKE, Right choice at right time will decide your future. No one will come from the sky to help you.
Dedication, determination and hard work I learn from Santiago of The Old man and the Sea. Even though he fails, he wins in the minds of the readers.

Frankenstein kind of science fiction still terrifies me. But when Narration turns to Monster it is one of the best parts of literature I've ever read. And I think, This is the beauty of Literature that Monster (Antagonist, villain, murderer) is given very WONDERFUL LINES. I was born innocent, but society corrupted me-, is I think the best line we can apply for the character of Monster. 

When we read Monster's narrative we start sympathizing for him. (which perhaps won't happen in real life. We never allow Other, second to put forward his arguments. We directly judge people. we must give chance to others to explain his/her side.)After reading Monster's narrative, anyone will question that Who is real Monster??? Victor or Monster? This happens only because Marry Shelley has given voice to Monster, but imagine what will happen if we'll know the story only from Victor's point of view??? (We are always Tigers in our own stories, like Pi, from Life of Pi)The hideousness of Victor's act will never come out. By changing the perspective everything changes. in real life also we should check, observe & evaluate single incident from various perspectives before deriving any conclusion.

While writing how literature shaped me, suddenly I feel nostalgic & remember an incident which Dilip Barad sir told us while discussing that what is usefulness or importance of Literature?
We had discussed an example of terrorists and 9/11 attack in America. Who was the terrorist?? They were not common people like you and me. It is not everybody's cup of tea to do that. THEY ALL WERE HIGHLY INTELLECTUAL PEOPLE. It requires a high level of intelligence and ability of multi-tasking to do that. 
Even if they were people with very high IQ, Then even WHY did they do such HIDEOUS ACT. The research made on them had proved that they never had studied HUMANITIES. They never study literature, which is very much important to make them human.
If not all, then most of Engineers, doctors, businessman or scientists etc considers literature as time pass activity. & perhaps that's why humanity is suffering.

  • Back then ( Ha, ha, ha!!!!!, Tony's style of writing from Sense of an Ending to return from flashback -"Back then"!!!!!), let's talk about a few more texts...
Even though people criticize a lot, Chetan Bhagat, we give a little bit more respect to his book in classroom discussion. One Night @ the Call Center is love to read kind of book, touching upon social issues and bringing NEW MORALITY. it says it is difficult to please and make everybody happy at the same time. YOU FIND YOUR OWN HAPPINESS, OTHERS WILL FIND THEIRS ON THEIR OWN.
"Sense of an Ending" by Julian Barnes gave me the vision to doubt "Memory" & "History". Wonderful lines, which I had chosen as my presentation topic:- "History is that certainty produced at a point where the imperfection of memory meets the inadequacies of documentation"-Explain with reference of Tony Webster". "There was unrest, there was Great unrest"!!!!!!!!

  • The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown, though controversial is a thought-provoking book. This gave me insight that everybody is examining their culture, religion critically. It is a false belief that all are attacking Hinduism. Those who believe so are the people who have read nothing. If they come to me, I will suggest them to read The Da Vinci Code. They just come out in street protesting, vandalizing by holding banners in their hand.(SHEOPLE) If they burn books today, they will burn people tomorrow -remember that & be careful. Now I believe that if any artist /writer portraying a negative side of culture then ITS A GREATER PROCESS OF SELF EXAMINATION. Dickens, Balzac, Flaubert also did the same with their respective Nations & that's why England and France are better societies compare to us. so, always remain open for self-criticism is gift to me by literature.

  • If you don't like the book, then write another book opposing it. But to burn books or kill an artist is not a good idea. Let's take the example of Britain... Salman Rushdie has to left his country due to religious Fatwa against him because of writing a book like 'Satanic Verses'. Now he is living in Britain. When I read Rushdie's book "Imaginary Homeland"- which is a collection of various essays, I found that living in Britain, he is criticizing British policy & white people. Imagine if this would happen in India then???

England is the country which gave him shelter when his life was under threat. Then even Rushdie is writing about downsides of country & If white people don't like Rushdie's views then they publish books, article deconstructing his views. They had neither beaten Rushdie nor told that you leave our country. This is how they are better, well-grown society than us. Development progress doesn't mean material progress with big buildings and cars. It should be a growth of each & everyone as a society.

How without our first-hand experience, we imagine people(Through images that come in media, literature, movies etc) is wonderful to observe in Orientalism by Edward Said.(How Arab misrepresented by West & everybody believed as the reality). I learnt that First-hand experience is necessary & be careful from Media Monster.

  • Oh my god!!!!, I almost forgot my dear Godot. How can I???!!!!!! My journey or say anybody's journey of literature will remain incomplete if we don't talk about Waiting For Godot, by Samuel Beckett. It is said that there are three plays discussed and debated time and again by critics and scholars, -Oedipus, Hamlet, and Waiting for Godot.
While studying I don't get it that what is this all about. whats going on??!!!.
It's about nothing. Yes, it's about "NOTHING"!!!!. Even though the play is nothing about, it is about something. Nothing is something in the play. (Confused?????, Me too!!! Ha, ha, ha).
I must say Waiting For Godot is my favourite play, leading us towards Existentialism, Nothingness, meaninglessness, Absurdity of our life.
I also like Vladimir & Estragon, go on waiting that Godot will come tomorrow, but Godot never comes!!!!. WAITING IS ENDLESS. 
What is life except waiting? We all go on waiting for things one after another every day. Now I don't see any difference between me & Sisyphus repeating the same thing every day. (We have to imagine that Sisyphus is happy !!! what else)

Though The Birthday Party by Harold Pinter looks dull, boring it is menacing. Petey's last line of the play is wonderful that -"Stan!, Don't let others tell you what to do".
I appreciate Pinter's Anti American views, Brave!!! with powerful evidence & arguments. Society is by and large like Meg & Petey- Impotent & forgets everything. & Individual artists, free thinkers like Stanley are always under danger from power.

Derozio's The Fakeer of Jungheera make me realize that don't be proud of your rotten Tradition & rituals ( Sati Pratha). Be human first. Life is more important than anything.
In the beginning, I mentioned that now I try to read incident by Decentering the centre or say by bringing the margin of meta-narrative centre. That's because of texts like The Purpose by T.P. Kailasm and A Tempest by Aime Cesaire. 

"Hamlet" by genius Shakespeare warns us that "Thinking and thinking and never putting into action is dangerous", at the same time quite opposite to it is "Othello" by the same master - who acts too hastily without thinking and then suffers. So, these teach that excessiveness of anything is fatal, dangerous.

  • Christopher Marlowe's heroes are always "HUNGRY FOR MORE...". The same is the case with Dr. Faustus also, who had acquired all the available knowledge of the time & still he wanted more. But his fall is tragic. I personally don't like his tragic end, but it was inevitable because he misuses the power (plays silly magic tricks) he had got at great cost. (cost was his own soul)For gaining knowledge he's ready to give away his own soul to Lucifer is something amazing spirit to learn. Because knowledge is power. He knew that God is just. his soul will suffer perpetual damnation. What knowledge Dr Faustus had in the 16th century, that much knowledge you & I don't have even today (Knowledge of almost all subject- History, law, medicine, metaphysics etc).
Learn thirst for knowledge from Faustus, but be careful of misuse of it.

  • in "Paradise Lost" by Milton Adam's choosing of Eve in spite of knowing that God's wrath will fall upon him, they will lose paradise is a shining example of Individual's CHOICE. For him, Eve is more important than God. We also have a need to learn from Adam and be like him.
Till how long time, we will go on killing people on the name of religion & god ????? Who killed more people?? History will undoubtedly prove Religion. 
God gave us free will, so one is free to do whatever they like. Individual's happiness & Humanism is more important. learn this from Adam.
T.S. Eliot highly self-critical, calls his own land The Waste Land- a barren land where nothing grows. Eliot was disturbed by spiritual degradation and sexual perversion. (Well, how can I underestimate The Waste Land, because this is the text on which I had tried to write my first research paper, comparing The Waste Land with Manvini Bhavai- a Gujrati novel by Pannalal Patel. 

Reading Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse & Room of One's own, leads us towards stronger feminist discourse. For the progress of women, total freedom is essential. (Including economical, social, cultural etc). I must not agree with Charles Tansley-: That women can't paint or write".
Rober Frost's Nature is quite opposite to Wordsworthian Nature. This is the beauty of literature that how same Nature seen differently by two different poets.
I also enjoy travelling into darker streets of 'Mind', with Edgar Allan Poe.

'Gulliver's Travels' by Jonathan Swift, 'Tom Jones' by Henry Fielding, 'Middlemarch' by George Eliot is a wonderful to study of contemporary English society. Its covers a wide range of issues like love, sex, morality, corruption, heritage, New morality, Individualism, money and many more. Gulliver's Travels is the darkest criticism of a human being ever written. Through Oliver Twist, Dickens takes us on the tour of corrupted London, where there was a school of teaching pickpocketing & innocent children were suffering in workhouses.

African Literature, books like "A Grain of Wheat", "Things Fall Apart", "Waiting for Barbarians" or "The Swamp Dwellers" never gave me aesthetic delight, pleasure or a moment of relief. Because it is the literature of anger, angst, frustration, rebel, dissatisfaction, slavery, violence, cultural clash, struggle, fight, killing, torturing. These books were not written out of compassion but out of compulsion. Its writer's catharsis by pouring inner turmoil into books.

I remember Chinua Achebe's wonderful lines from Things Fall Apart that : - “…Until the lions produce their own historian, the story of the hunt will glorify only the hunter”. It is enough to falsify & doubt history written by winners. (we can apply to white man's written history also).
This is what I had posted on Facebook while reading literature
#Radical thinkers always suppress by the authority. Shocked to read that Ngugi wa Thiongo was detained and after release Govt. dismissed from his academic job & harassed him out of the country in 1982. The reason was that his writing and 'peasant' workshop were bringing tremendous social changes, and this panicked the Govt.( Really people are by and large 'Lucky'- a character of #Waiting for Godot- who will kick you if you try to make him free)
-Interesting parallel we find happening around us also......
# Until we won't protect our intellectual people, humanity will never progress.#POWER is not always right.
So, this is how I think & believe after reading literature.

Generally, students don't like a paper of Literary theories & criticism. But I like the most. Begin with Aristotle & Plato, Dryden, Matthew Arnold- Touchstone method (Compare & analyse), Roland Barthes- From work to text,  Raymond Williams, Northrop Frye- Archetypal criticism, Structuralism, Poststructuralism, Practical criticism, Reader response theory and so many other theories & critics change my world view.

  • Dilip Barad sir taught us how to write your answers, that - You begin with one idea and then slowly and steadily change your trajectory of answer over another. what you want to prove as a conclusion should come second. But here it isn't the case. I don't want to provI anything, I am just telling the thing as it is !!!!! (Advantages / Disadvantages)

One of the disadvantages of reading too many books- Literature Is that now I find difficulties in matching up with group/ community. I consider myself different than them. I think that they won't understand me & my ideas. I remain in the minority because now I don't agree with all- mass- group over most of topics (about politics, Nation, state, corruption, morality, jobs, education, technology, privatization, Globalization, so-called 'development' and many more)
Another thing I doubt about literature is its "PRACTICAL USABILITY". How literature is useful when you'll have to work hard on your farm at noon ??? All knowledge & theories will collapse there. Neither Shakespeare nor Coleridge is going to help you there !!!! Reading literature will not satisfy your appetite. After studying medicine, one can use his skill in curing people & earn a livelihood, what LITERATUREWALA will do???? that is a big question. No one is going to listen to your bookish ideas. If we look back in history then most of writers & poets had suffered, lived very poor, isolated, tragic life. 

  • Reading everything is also time-consuming. & To understand properly one has to read intensively. Sometimes it looks like, WE ARE LIVING IN THE WORLD (of literature)WHICH HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH REAL WORLD. the outside world is totally different than what the book says.

  • Literature also makes us escapist from the real world.

  • I remember Dilip sir's words while discussing Cultural Studies that "We know that fire burns, but our knowledge will not stop the fire from burning. Knowledge of Cultural Studies is also like this. We know how power operates, but our knowing won't stop power operating".
I will add that Literature is also like this. You read it on your chair, knew it & then remain just spectator & then forget it. As such nothing changes.
Reading literature is individualistic - benefits to only those who have read it, unlike scientific invention which brings tremendous changes in the life of everyone.

  • But why am I comparing literature with science?? Any well-read person will question me. Its Literature, not science.
Well, my this controversial statement will lead us towards F.Y.B.A. debate of Nature & Function of literature. Let me tell you that I am well aware of this debate- that what is literature & what is the function of literature?? & so let's leave it aside.

I agree with it. I shouldn't expect this from literature.

Because it is something that you observe and absorb how to live a life with a better understanding of other people as well as society as a whole. It will bring change WITHIN yourself, which may not be visible, but reflects in your behaviour as well as in your way of approaching the world.

 But my intention was just to convey what I truly feel after reading this much literature.


  1. Very well expressed...Good to see that you accepted the changes came through literature and you also confessed views about women and patriarchal society...i think accepting changes or thinking differently is easy but confessing it is not everyone's cup of tea. your journey can be visualised by your words.
    Great one!

    1. Thank you so much for giving your precious time and reading my blog. what is the use of learning, if we dont change and confess truth? because these is learning all about. Sincerity is necessary.

  2. What a piece of writing Nimesh !! excellent one, fabulous. This entire blog is nicely written, you have put forwarded point after point and all are connected with each other coherently. This blog is an evidence of what you have acquired after understanding literature since last five years. Really this blog mesmerised me, in fact I felt jealous for your knowledge which I think one(our classmates) should felt after reading your this blog.

    1. Thanks Milan! Your comment is truly motivating and gives me satisfaction for the toil that I had done. બસ આમ જ સહકાર અને પ્રેરણા આપતાં રહેજો. સાથે મળીને નવી મંજીલોં સર કરીશું ભાઈ !👍

  3. Fabulous one , inspired me a lot and also guide me to write my experience of studying literature in 5 years. Very interestingly connecting all real incidents with the literary theory and discourse, i have also some experience like that which i remember only after reading yours. It is also best way of writing any review as Dilipsir used to say that you should know the trajectory of writing that i find in your blog that first you have explain all your learning from literature and then deconstructing your own narration that literature make us so different that it's difficult to agree with the mass and it should have practical usability in real life then it's prove that what we learn. Thanks this will help me a lot in my reflection that i will soon write.

    1. Thanks a lot.
      While writing this much lengthy blog I thought that No one is gonna to read this blog....
      But the way I am getting reviews from juniors like you, gives me feel good effect. Thanks for visiting, reading and commenting my blog.

  4. Very well written Nimeshbhai👌👌👌👌