Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Literary Explorations Contemporary Fiction and Poetry - Dr. Abhimanyu Pandey

As further evidence of my diversity this week sees me blogging a chick lit type tome, a fictionalisation of the life of Mary Shelley, an anthology of classic crime stories and now a collection of literary essays from the Anaphora Literary Press.

I responded to a Librarything Early Reviewers offer to put in a request for this. It was eformat which I loathe with a passion but somehow I felt drawn, particularly by the mention of Sylvia Plath,  so I cast caution aside. I suppose I wasn’t surprised to be successful as it didn’t strike me as having mainstream appeal. Fortunately I’m not mainstream, much of the time!! So I was delighted to be given the opportunity to read these absorbing essays.

This collection of essays were written between 2014 and 2019 by Dr. Abhimanyu Pandey who teaches as a Guest Faculty in the Department of English and MEL at the University of Allahabad. The collection comprises seven essays:-

  1. Evolution in Magical Realism
  2. The Question of Voice and Sylvia Plath
  3. The Postmodern Hero
  4. Showcasing Masculinity
  5. Narrative Skills, Language and Dialogue in Gautam Malkani’s Londonstani
  6. Culture, Language and the Post Truth World
  7. The Biographical and Autobiographical; Two Canadian Poems

The challenge for a reviewer here is to avoid, necessarily, entering into some kind of remote, monologue type discussion with the essayist but rather to offer an objective overview of what’s on offer and give the reader some idea of what they might expect should they choose to seek these essays out for themselves.

Dr. Pandey is scholarly and erudite yet his essay style is accessible and informative. Whilst some of the essay titles hint of broader aspects, ultimately Pandey seeks to compare within more narrow margins. Hence the essay on magical realism looks at two works in relative depth, Robin Gregory’s The Improbable Wonders of Moojie Littleman and Lakshmi Raj Sharma’s The Tailor’s Needle. 
Pandey’s work is literary and he offers his viewpoints with convincing and supported arguments. 

Of greatest interest to me was the essay where Dr. Pandey considers the notion of author voice with particular reference to two poems of Sylvia Plath, Mirror and Daddy. He acknowledges the wealth of views of this subject and confines his essay to include the views of five others. He seeks to correlate these five views into some kind of whole. The premise is to consider whether an author’s voice is their own inner voice or whether it is a shift from their own personality. In essence when Plath writes about Daddy is she writing about her own father? 

The Postmodern Hero focuses on Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient and Gautam Malkani’s Londonstani. Almasy and Jas are used as examples to examine features of the hero in post modern literature. Dr. Pandey returns to Londonstani in another essay where he is examining the book not from the post modernist view but from aspects of language and vernacular. This was the only time I took issue with Dr. Pandey! He credits Malkani with coining the word ‘jackshit’ yet the word has been around since the 1970’s!! 

In Showcasing Masculinity Pandey uses The Kite Runner as his basis and turns what might be a contentious issue in today’s times into a well considered exploration of multiculturalism, looking at how the three men in the story, Baba, Amir and Hassan, are connected to Afghanistan or US multiculturalism.

Culture, Language and the Post Truth world offers a broad consideration of how culture has impacted democratic societies. 

The concluding essay looks at two poems from, again Ondaatje, and Margaret Atwood. Ondaatje’s Letters and Other Worlds and Atwood’s Disembarking at Quebec. The comparison is looking at the biographical and the autobiographical. It somehow seems a fitting way to conclude this fascinating collection of literary thought.

My thanks to Librarything for the opportunity and Anna Faktorovich of the Anaphora Literary Press for a copy of this intelligent and thought provoking collection of essays. 

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