T.K Doraiswamy

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Nivedita Lall
M A (I)
Presentation :Book Review: Novel
Course : Indian Literature in English
Course Instructor: Prof. GJV Prasad

Words For The Wind (1973)- T K Doraiswamy
With due credit to Google, first the Wikipedia-ish information, and this I confess I have shamelessly plagiarized solely for the reason that I myself could not be as concise. T K Doraiswamy was born in 1922. He did his M.Phil in Virginia Woolf’s works and retired as Professor of English, Mar Ivanois College, Thiruvananthapuram. Equally distinguished as a poet, translator, critic, anthologist, novelist, and short fiction writer, his publications include a novel and six books of poems in English, and nine novels and five books of poems in Tamil. He received the Asan Memorial Award for Tamil Poetry in 1983. Interestingly most of his English works were published under his real name while the Tamil ones under the pen name ‘Nakulan’. His alter-ego Naveenan in his Tamil novels stands out as a modernist anti-hero who was perhaps the first of his kind in Tamil literature. And this I mention because his only English novel “Words for the Wind” is also a first person narrative by a man named Naveen. I’m curious to know why he edited ‘Naveenan’ to ‘Naveen’ for his English work. He was one of the first writers to attempt techniques like stream of consciousness  in Tamil literature ably. He translated James Joyce, T.S Eliot and K Ayyappa Paniker and as per Wikipedia claims, influence of Joyce was pronounced in his writings but “it was more the metaphysical and religious thrust similar to T. S Eliot and the sparseness of style of a Samuel Beckett that really makes his works stand out”. And I have particular problems with this statement, obviously. Firstly because it reeks of colonial servitude and secondly because it deprives an amazing talent the credit due for its individuality. Again as per Wikipedia, “ he was definitely(italics mine) a late modernist moving into the realm of post modernism. In a review of his short stories published in The Hindu on 30 December 2008, it is mentioned that he was called “ the writer’s writer” in Tamil literary circle because of his experimental writings in poetry as well as fiction and “inspite of being experimental his writings are readable and seem simple at first reading. He never compromised with the contemporary popular literary field going for stereotyped plots to spin his work of art and consciously avoided attractive storylines opting instead for the simple straightforward narration of everyday events in his life as an outsider without any commitments or justifications with minimum words.” A blogger observes that his Modernism was well mixed with the deepest Tamil wisdom. He remained a bachelor for life, taking care of his old parents till their death. He died in 2007.

After this introduction- in which I hope you understand, heavy plagiarism was inevitable- I finally come to my very own viewpoint. I like to imagine that I have rediscovered a valuable piece of writing from a not so distant past of the Indian writing in English. During my first cursory glance of the novel I was stunned that an Indian had written something like this, way back in 1973, an Indian whom I haven’t heard about ever in literature. But then I have been badgered with amazingly stunning discoveries in this class , stunning obviously for an ignorant student like me, which made my first astonishment subside not through the course of the novel but through the course of this course. I realized, Indians had actually written amazingly stunning stuff that I, pitifully an Indian, had grown up being oblivious of. So. While my dear friends have been coveting the enticingly slim 76 page volume that I chose, I myself reveled in an apparently easy read- which illusion was later shattered. The novel begins with the rather casual, candid opening, “ I want to write a short novel in English. I have been toying with the idea of doing this off and on, these...
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