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Monday, December 29, 2008

The Shadow Lines-My tryst with Indo-English literature



My love affair with The Shadow Lines

I have always been an ardent admirer of Amitav Ghosh's works. My first foray into the world of literature was with his novel The Shadow Lines. I cannot believe still today what an impact the novel has on me. It's an amazing piece of work.

His writing stirred my imagination;every word comes alive whenever i recall my reading of this novel that afternoon. I bunked my morning lectures, sat on the window sill of my seniors' classroom and read it without break. Back at home i couldn't resist myself and i read some of the passages over and again.[Tridib's visit to narrator's home one day, narrator's grandmum's fascination for Tridib and his family, Tridib's talks with narrator, Tridib's death during communal violence]

I felt a surge of intense passion in me when i read the way narrator describes London ways and roads to Ila's boyfriend. Tridib, his uncle who fired his imagination.

Description of lights, shadows, and darkness. And, the most unforgettable statement that Ghosh made in the entire narrative is about the lines that divides borders are the lines of human faith that is so fleeting.. a thin dividing line between reality and imagination..

Only an anthropologist can really understand the essence of light and dark, shadows and reality.


What was Narrator doing, was he really in love with his cousin Ila or just a whim triggered by her being little different from what he was or his environment was. I felt as if he lived Tridib's life in whole of the narrative space. It was Tridib who lived through the narrator- narrator mere the ideal voicing Tridib.. a framework for that Tridib who could have been successful in his life. The Journey of the narrator begin with Tridib's stories, his imaginative stances, his gossips, his love and ends in traveling London, and at the climax in the arms of Tridib's love. What do you think, the narrator was doing there? He was living Tridib's part-his life. The narrator in fact acted or rather say have been molded as an alter ego of Tridib with the passing of time. His desire to know all, to grasp the reality in its most symbolic form was gifted by Tridib.

" The imagination with precision"

What exactly narrator stood for- a chronicler who is trying to record the events of 60s Calcutta and 70s London. He travels in myriad of cultures and time frames. He has seen more of London which not even those inhabiting the place has not known for years. He knows streets, homes, places, and Londoners even before setting his foot in the grand capital of English.

He is linking stories, histories together of India, of Dhaka, of London, of the lives of ordinary but marvelous characters of the novel and weaving all together to form a chronicle that oscillates on the pendulum of time- to and fro. Whose story was it- the narrator's , Tridib's or Political upheavals?

8/14/2008 6:49:56 AM- This was written long time back on authors den. Now, I'm deleting my account there so it gets accommodated here.

I would like my fellow DU english Literature students especially to contribute their own view on the novel and its themes. I would also like you to raise questions and give replies to the ones raised in the post.

Those who have not yet read this novel , do read it's awesome!
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