Monday, March 22, 2010

REVIEW: Essays and Letters

Essays & Letters 
Bankim Chandra Chatterjee
Edited by Brajendra Nath Banerji and Sajani Kanta Das
Rupa & Co
Rs 295
ISBN: 8129115697

An important book as it brings together Bankim Chandra Chatterjee’s miscellaneous writings in English that have been published before but largely forgotten over time. Apart from letters and articles on religion and philosophy, there is a translation of a few chapters of Chatterjee’s novel, Devi Chaudhurani. His views as expressed in his articles — for instance, on the origin of Hindu festivals or on popular literature in Bengal — are instructive because they reveal the workings of an immensely intelligent mind bent upon proving the superiority of certain values and principles.

In “A Popular Literature for Bengal” he writes, “And it would be difficult to conceive a poem more typical than the Gitagovinda of the Bengali character…. From the beginning to the end it does not contain a single expression of manly feeling — of womanly feeling there is a great deal — or a single elevated sentiment.” Chatterjee’s English is terse, devoid of the sentimental flourishes that often marked Victorian prose.

Full review here Telegraph

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