Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The idea of artistic value is meaningless these days

So says novelist and critic Amit Chaudhuri. The context of his saying this is Bollywood and the kind of films it produces. I quote from a review of his latest release (a book of essays, Clearing a Space: reflections on India, literature and culture) in The Economist:

Pausing briefly, Mr Chaudhuri, the earnest poet, dismisses any possibility of Bollywood containing “artistic value”. And then the critic recollects himself, and Mr Chaudhuri reflects that, “of course”, the idea of artistic value is meaningless these days.

Here's on his take on Indian literature and postmodernism:

Post-modernism, writes Mr Chaudhuri, is “polyphony; the conflation and confusion of fantasy with history”, a “rhetoric of excess, plenty and a relentless engulfing inclusiveness”, which has been the context for Indian writers since the 1981 publication of Salman Rushdie’s babbling narrative, “Midnight’s Children”.

An exhausting theorist, Mr Chaudhuri likens this and the Indian literature that has followed it—with all its variety and interconnectedness—to globalisation. Literary merit, he says, has become synonymous with commercial value; “today’s writers are stocks and shares”. Here, the poet in Mr Chaudhuri asserts himself: “The triumphal narrative of Indian writing”—perhaps even including Mr Rushdie’s feted trickery—“bores me, personally speaking, as a reader and writer.”

Thought-provoking, isn't it?

2 comments:

imperfect said...

I just saw the posts on the first page, why is it that you write about other authors?
Thoughts/feelings take a backseat on blogging?

Zafar Anjum said...

Thanks for your comment. Sometimes I like what others have said and highlight it through my blog.