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Thursday, April 07, 2005


Picked up “Stallion of the Sun” by the renowned U R Ananthamurthy, an avant garde exponent of the Modernist school, in a febrile endeavour to mitigate historical excesses (read go Indian ).He writes in Kannada.

It intrigues and pains me that I may actually be closer to Western mores than I imagine, albeit repulsive and dismissive. As always, I am inured to the big bad ways of urban ways, and immune to the welcoming rural rhapsodies.

These stories span across about four decades and that alone surfaces the metamorphosis in URS’s take on events and affairs. This can be deprecatingly referred to as the purging of an embittered soul towards a conservative “humanist” approach sardonically referred to as slowing down, too.

The titular “Ghattashraddha” chronicles village matters where a young widow finds herself pregnant and is ostracized by her own kin, seen from the viewpoint of a ten year old relative to whom she is a friend and confidante. Interesting narrative although URA does not go really overboard a la Caulfield/Christopher (circa Haddon) . Almost as if he resiles and quails.

The story that made me most reflective was one called “Clip Joint” which wrestles with the turgid dissonance of an Indian student and his classmate who has successfully entrenched himself in the West. Are things what they appear to be ? Nice theme.

Stallion of the Sun” by itself was wan and withdrawn-not a gripping or incisive read. Very clearly the hallmark of a mellowed writer who has toned down some of the acerbic barbs, appearing less truculent and more tranquil.

The stories were on the discursive needs for co-existence between rationality and a simple faith. Again, URA’s wisdom in not appearing apostate or rescinding shine through. Those tales are more statements, not yarns.

It piques me that the publisher, Penguin, or the translator, Narayan Hegde should choose this as the title of the book where there were clearly more worthy contenders.

I am told that there are other works by URA, most notably, Samskara that bear notice. All it needs is overcoming inertia and force of (bad) habit.


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