Arun Joshi (The Existentialist Element in His Novels)
|B.R. Publishing Corporation
|9.00 X 6.00 inch
In Arum Joshi: the Existentialist Element in His Novels, the author has attempted to make a systematic and thorough study of "The Shaping of the Existentialist Vision" with special reference to Arun Joshi's novels in Indian English Fiction. The book explores how far and in what respects Arun Joshi has been able to give a fictive form to the chaos in the mind of a modern man and also to correlate it to human condition. It also presents the socio-economic and cultural background leading to the literary milieu of the period to which joshi belongs.
The author has examined Arun Joshi as an existentialist thinker and also as a social force. Like the existentialists, Joshi points out that the age old traditional world-view and worn-out values have outlived their utility and are almost meaningless in the face of the widespread sense of absurdity, and that only existential values like the worth and dignity of the individual, has freedom of choice, his quest for identity have significance. The critico-philosophical components which the author has applied are basically of Albert Camus and, at times, Sartrean and Kierkegaardian as well.
The lucidity of style and the careful analysis of passages from Arun Joshi's novels will make this a valuable book for the general reader as well as the specialist of existentialist orientation. This study is definitely different from a mere critical-analytical investigation of general nature, and will prove a welcome addition to the growing body of Indian English writing.
Dr. Mukteshwar Pandey obtained his Ph.D. in English from the Purvanchal University, Jaunpur. Having taught English language and literature at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels in various colleges. He has edited two books: An Anthology of Poems of the Victorian Era and Representative One-Act Plays that are prescribed as textbooks for detailed study by the Purvanchal University, for graduate classes. He has published articles in standard Indian journals and has presented papers at national seminars and conferences.
Arun Joshi has been an outstanding Indian English novelist, who has impressed us immensely with his thoughtful utterances, masterly treatment of existential themes, and skilful weaving of fictional techniques. There are quite a few Indian English novelists who have produced more novels than what Joshi has given us, yet the latter catches up with them through his qualitative works. As we know, Joshi has published merely five novels and a collection of short stories to date, but that is enough to immortalize him in the annals of Indian English fiction. All his novels deal with the existential problems of mankind, and in their hectic search for a solution to them they usually tend to be serious and thought-provoking. His protagonists pass through disturbing mental processes and tense tailored behaviour in a given situation. Joshi is an existentialist who does not claim to have read much about Camus, Kafka and Sartre (barring one or two works by them).
The present study of Arun Joshi and his novels adopts an avowedly existential approach, and in this study Dr. Mukteshwar Pandey shows the rise and growth of Existentialism in the West, its ever-increasing influence on Literature, and its exploration by some of the Indian English novelists like Anita Desai and Arun Joshi.
Existentialism, strictly speaking, is not a systematic school of philosophy in a clear-cut way but a fountainhead of several revolts in the past against traditional philosophy. It is the offspring of the combined attempts made by philosophers, thinkers, psychologists, sociologists, artists and litterateurs from different disciplines, periods and places of the world. It can be said to have existed eversince men came face to face with his own frailty and the meaninglessness of his existence. It can be understood more as a way of thought, an attitude to life, a vision, a way of perceiving the man and the world, a "timeless sensibility that can be discerned here and there in the past", a "style of philosophizing"2 than an integrated system. One may trace its origin in Greek philosophy, and even in the Bible. Professor S. Radhakrishnan holds that existentialism is a new name for an ancient method of the Upanishads and Buddhism insisting on a knowledge of the 'self. The beginning of modern existential thought is traced by many in the philosophy of Pascal (1623-1662) who took a keen interest in the problems of human existence and asked man to know himself. Modern existentialism of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries, which became very popular particularly after the two World Wars, owes its origin to two main sources, one led by Soren Kierkegaard (1813-55), a Danish thinker, and the other by Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), a German philosopher, developing into two different directions-one Christian and theistic the exponent of which is Kierkegaard, and the other anti-Christian and atheistic of which the acknowledged leader was Nietzsche. The German Professor Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) and the French thinker Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973) took the Kierkegaardian line of philosophical faith, a metaphysic of hope. On the other hand, the German Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) and the French intellectual Jean-Paul Sartre (1905- ) developed it on the Nietzschean way of atheism and godlessness. Albert Camus (1913-60) has developed a kind of existentialism of the absurd. In his approach Camus has been described as an 'anti-theist' rather than an atheist.
The world literature, particularly its fiction, produced between the two World Wars and afterwards chiefly dealt with different gloomy facets of social consciousness. On cosmic level, there was a great upheaval with political implications and war complications. In Germany, there grew "widening disillusionment and cracking morale under defeat and aerial bombardment mingled with desperate resolution and helpless despair". In France, the sudden collapse of the country utterly astonished and shocked Frenchmen and brought about a bitter realisation of their own existence in the midst of "a world-shattering situation"." It was the period of trouble and turmoil, full of tensions and mental agonies. The atomic age started and the very existence of humanity as a whole was, and still is, in great danger because of fatal nuclear weapons invented by science. Consequently, there is envy and unrest, uneasiness and boredom all over the world. Man, by and large, has ceased to have a human heart throbbing with emotions and sentiments, joy and love, pity and peace. He has become a mere machine, an automaton, and his life mechanical. Modern man is reduced to the state of robot and is functioning as a computer, a recording machine without discrimination.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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