Unveiling the legend that is Krishna Sobti

With Sukrita Paul Kumar and Chandana Dutta as editors of the series, nearly a dozen books will be published by Routledge UK and South Asia, under the auspices of the “Writer in Context” series.

When individual texts from writers such as Krishna Sobti, Amrita Pritam, Bama, OV Vijayan or any other Indian writer in translation are brought to the classroom or to a research table, it is then that the dire lack of critical material is realized. by interested parties. reader. What then inevitably comes under the critical lens is usually the isolated translated text without an adequate supply of critical supporting tools that would help to fully grasp its meaning. For literary and cultural studies, it is crucial to engage with different ways of accessing the multi-layered meanings that are woven into the text by the very context of its creation. For a comprehensive understanding of an Indian writer translated into English, how to access the cultural context or literary tradition from which the original text may have evolved? With Sukrita Paul Kumar and Chandana Dutta as editors of the series, nearly a dozen books will be published over the next two years by Routledge UK and South Asia, under the auspices of the “Writer in Context” series for help fill this gap in the critical literature. studies.
The first in the series, the UK edition of the volume Krishna Sobti: A Counter Archive edited by Sukrita Paul Kumar and Rekha Sethi will be released by the end of the month. What led to the conceptualization of this book was an endless number of conversations with Krishna Sobti herself which anecdotally revealed many aspects of his creativity, his life story, and the political and sociological contexts that influenced his writing. . A writer who ardently protected his autonomy in life projected the same concern for his characters. Krishna Sobti said, “The romance of life is not a straight line. Things would become stale if that happened. In the long period of almost a century of her life, she would never allow life to be a straight line, especially if the trail had to be drawn by others. It was the primary context of the life vision or perspective she built herself upon, both in the lifetime of her life as well as in the fiction she created. Writing about the character, Mitro de Mitro Marjani, Sobti states ‘Mitro is not just a test of the writer’s daring, she is also a discovery and a challenge.’ In order to fully understand the character and the story, it is important to understand the context in which the novel was created. This is true of all of Sobti’s works. His epic novel Zindaginama opens up a whole new dimension of understanding with the simple knowledge that the novel was created primarily out of the pain of the score and the author’s anguish at having witnessed the violent collapse. of the composite culture of the subcontinent. With a view to presenting the author through the position of a “counter-archive”, samples of his own writings, critical essays translated from Hindi as well as new essays written in English have been collected in this volume. so that the reader can access the cultural, historical and sociological context of the writer and his writings.
From Agyeya to Nirmal Verma and Mannu Bhandari, to Chitra Mudgal and Mridula Garg, Krishna Sobti was a contemporary of three generations of writers. There have been many different and changing literary fashions that Krishna Sobti has witnessed during his writing career, but Sobti has never been drawn into the folds of any style or fashion. Sobti created his own writing context for which the dominant literary traditions were actually disrupted. It is indeed relevant to examine the dialectic between itself and society, as well as to perceive how the dynamics of tradition negotiated with its own talent.
Her linguistic creativity was manifested in the innovative ways in which she created different types of Hindi for each of her novels. Krishna Sobti’s comments on his commitment to words came to him from his inner recesses. As she says: “every word has a body, a soul and a garment”. As a master of words, she has woven the stories of her novels, in the living language of the people, so that the stories are authentic. The forthcoming book essays on Sobti deal with individual novels and their reception. Prominent critics and writers from India and abroad have been brought together through their essays, commentaries and recollections.
While critics of the day generally tried to place writers either on the modernist or progressive camp, Krishna Sobti challenged such confinement and projected either the reconciliation of the two “isms” or rejected them both. . The same could be said of her refusal to be approached as a “woman writer”. In fact, she has published four volumes of Ham Hushmat, claiming a male voice. Krishna Sobti: A Counter Archive attempts to provide insight and critical information to build a comprehensive understanding of the extraordinary writer who became the Grand Lady of Hindi Literature.
The “Writer in Context” series is launched with the publication of this volume on Krishna Sobti.

Sukrita Paul Kumar, formerly Aruna Asaf Ali Chair (DU), is a poet, critic and translator


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