Varsha Ritu – Monsoon, Issue No. 92 (Jul-Aug 2020)

FEATURE – Tradition and Modernity in Odia Literature

From tracing the liberal-humanistic roots of global pandemics to searching the connection/collision between tradition and modernity is the aim of this Feature, edited by Prof Sachidananda Mohanty. He observes: Tradition and modernity may not be seen as polar opposites. Tradition constantly moulds and shapes modernity, and in turn is influenced by it. Eliot’s seminal essay, despite the passage in time and fashion, has not lost its perennial relevance. Our allegiance, social psychologist Ashis Nandy wisely tells us, should be to neither tradition nor modernity per se, but to critical tradition or critical modernity, or as the American critic Russell Reising terms the ‘unusable past’ while defining the American literary sensibility …

(To go to Odia section, please click on ‘Feature’ on the right under ‘Sections.’)

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“We became conscious of our village the day our headmaster asked us, the students of Class Three, to write an essay on the topic,” says Legendary raconteur Manoj Das. “So far we had taken the village for granted – like our breathing or our mothers' love. But thereafter the elements that made the village – the trees, the pools, the Shiva temple and the hillock adjacent to it – had begun to look significant …”  (Feature)

The Odia adaptation of As You Like It by Jatindra K Nayak a canonical Shakespearian play seeks to contribute to the nation building initiative in the late 40s of the twentieth century and shows how a certain conception of what this initiative should be, leads the author to play down the love interest at the centre of the original and to domesticate erotic longings through an emphasis on duties the young citizens must perform to build a new nation … (Feature)

In his life writing, well-known Delhi University academic Raj Kumar, writes about the angst, the growing up travails in a remote village in western Odisha: a Dalit adolescent’s search for education in the Bildungsroman mode. “Since caste-society systematically denied our basic human rights, we had no choice but to do menial jobs and survive somehow. That is why education was not our forte.”  (Feature)

Faturananda’s narrative articulates the collective sentiment of a colonized community on a national scale. It not only chronicles the story of a body as just a harbor of a disease but also brings the illness experience as a blessing in disguise,” analyses Sridhi Dash (Battling Illness with Literature).  “The autobiography shows the transformative power of literature which empowers him to revive the lost personhood and by the same token allows him a vision for the future.” (Feature)

Musing on the genre of the essay and the relationship that it could build, Soumya Mishra in her analysis (Montaigne’s Essais – Moral Exercise and Work of Friendship) states: …genre mediates between the text and the social circumstances surrounding the text through which, genre becomes cognizant of certain features of the situation and assumes the recognisable form of ‘friendship.’ (Literary section)

“It delineates the fact that place is a cultural construction and plays a significant role in the social process,” states Chandra N reviewing Mamta Mantri’s Bombay Novels.  “It further establishes the textuality of the city where the city itself becomes a text and the writers use two levels of writing – the primary level is what they have seen or experienced and the imaginary level is what they dream about their city.” (Literary section)

Rajesh Gopal’s story ‘Different’ takes a critical view of the treatment that is meted out towards people who do not seem to adhere with the protocols of a society. The rawness of the experience is something that one needs to read and let it sink in. (Fiction)

Mohammad Salman’s story The Maritime Nuisance Company’ thematically explores several areas and can be considered as one of those stories that ought to be read and remembered for the impact it has on the morals of a person. (Fiction)

K Satchidanandan pens poems with such fervor and power that he has come to be one of the most notable literary luminaries of modern times. His poems unlock the beautiful world of creative landscape with myriad facets. (Poetry)

Ammar Aziz’s poetry has a powerful thrust, yet delicate sensibility pervades. His poems are engaging and thought provoking. (Poetry)

Among the 8 books reviewed across Poetry (4), Fiction (1), Memoir (1) and Non-Fiction (2) the one that stands out is Robin Laurance’s Coconut – How the Shy Fruit Shaped Our World reviewed by Sunaina Jain. (Book Reviews)

Calcutta Nights, a cultural non-fiction by the pioneering Hemendra Kumar Roy (Bengali) is reviewed by Gopal Lahiri whose interview of the translator Rajat Chaudhuri is also tagged. Among the 7 other books reviewed is a memoir on the 1947 partition of India. (Books Reviews)


This Issue of Muse India is sponsored by our patron Satish Verma.

Past Issues


Issue:90:Flux and Fusions in English Studies

Issue:89:Children’s Literature

Issue:88:Maithili Literature Tomorrow

Issue:87:Writing on Art

Issue:86:Contemporary Assamese Literature

Issue:85:The Madness of the Word

Issue:84:Punjabi Literature – Guru Nanak, Its Greatest Progenitor