Saturday, September 3, 2011

Fiction rules

In the nature of things, no matter how superior on its own terms, non-fiction cannot serve the end of fiction.

Any healthy man can go without food for two days, but not without poetry.” So said the French poet Charles Baudelaire, and I think he meant it quite literally. For the centre of everybody's life, rich or poor, oppressed or oppressing, working or idle, is a dream, a world created inside the mind, an imagined perception of the way things are. Surely, then, to forego the nourishment of this omnipresent imaginative faculty, is to fall sick. And surely, art is the cure.

But if the sickness should abound, and yet be wrongly diagnosed, then there will be no cure, only a likely aggravation. Such would seem the case with Indian writing in English, whose condition can only worsen, if it continues to be misunderstood. So far, this lack of understanding has begot many damaging ideas — the idea that our literary establishment can safely piggy-back on the West's; that the tide of home-grown “frothy” fiction should be celebrated, because it sells. And most recently, the idea that non-fiction can take over from fiction, and tell us the stories that will make us well again.

Full report here Hindu

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