Sidharth Vardhan

Unbelievable Shrews

The feminist issues can be answered with the simplest argument that there is no knowing Shakespeare’s intentions. The best of his characters are always doing most villainous things – Shylock Othello, Caliban, Brutus, Iago etc. The fact that they come to a bad end might only show Shakespeare’s realism. But amid all prejudice that other characters show to them, the dislikable things they do and bad end they meet; they are still the ones that one feels most attracted towards. Kate is no different in that when she says “I see a woman may be made a fool, If she had not a spirit to resist.” she forecasts her tragedy. I don’t think anyone will claim to like Petruchio – and yet he is the most liked character in the play. I think one can thus argue that Shakespeare was questioning the very prejudice that he is accused of having. My problem is different – Kate seemly badly characterized. One doesn’t expect complex characters in a comedy but this one just didn’t make sense to me. She is unnecessarily arrogant in the beginning – she might be saying something powerfully feminist when she says, “My tongue will tell the anger of my heart,

Tartar Steppe – a reflection on arrested lives

(Review of Tartar Steppe; 5 * of 5*) “Meanwhile time was slipping past, beating life out silently and with ever increasing speed; there is no time to halt even for a second, not even for a glance behind. “Stop, stop,” one feels like crying, but then one sees it is useless. Everything goes by-men, the seasons, the clouds, and there is no use clinging to the stones, no use fighting it out on some rock in mid- stream; the tired fingers open, the arms fall back inertly and you are still dragged into the river, the river which seems to flow so slowly yet never stops.” This is the book that inspired Coetzee’s Waiting for Barbarians. It is also worthy of comparisons with Kafka that it has attracted – the protagonist is similarly helpless and finds himself losing to circumstances he doesn’t understand until it is too late. The amazing story can be read in at least three different ways:

Coetzee’s retelling of Foe’s Robinson Crusoe

“We must make Friday’s silence speak, as well as the silence surrounding Friday.” Defoe /Daniel Foe’s novel Robinson Crusoe was Coetzee’s childhood favorite novel. At first, he had thought it was a memoir of the title character. In fact, Foe published the book as an account of a real castaway. The realization that the character was fictional, this intermixing of real and fictional, had a huge impact on him. Besides this novel, Coetzee also visited the Robinson Crusoe in the short story he read as Nobel prize acceptance speech, ‘He and His Man’. The theme of which can be summed up in the following quote (from ‘Foe’): “Cruso rescued will be a deep disappointment to the world; the idea of a Cruso on his island is a better thing than the true Cruso tight-lipped and sullen in an alien England.” That is the case here as well. Besides being an adventure novel, Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (I haven’t read the book) is a symbol of British Nationalism in its worst form “He is the true prototype of the British colonist. … The whole Anglo-Saxon spirit in Crusoe: the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, the persistence, the slow yet efficient intelligence, the

The Vegetarian by Han Kang: An insane desire to be non-violent

(A review of ‘The Vegetarian’a novel by Han KangEnglish translation by Deborah Smith won International Man Booker PrizeFirst written on October 28, 2016) ““Why, is it such a bad thing to die?” Han Kang (The Vegetarian) In ‘The Killing Joke’, Joker (me!) says ‘All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy’. In Han Kang’s International Booker Winner, The Vegetarian, the protagonist Yeong-hye needed only a single dream. Whether it is prompted as an indirect consequence of beatings she got from her father, the memories of which had long remained latent in her subconscious, or something else; the dream made her resolved to become a Vegetarian. The sight of meat fills her with disgust she has for the violence – which goes with my theory that madness is sometimes seeing things too clearly. She shows similar disgust for sex and again, tries to commit suicide when her father tries to force-feed her. Joker, the clown criminal from The Batman comics sidharth vardhan review analysis the vegetarian han kang But violence is essential to human life, as an old Indian saying goes ‘we kill as we breathe’. And thus, an artistic adventure she undertook for

A review of The Optimist’s Daughter

The Mourning traditions in ‘The Optimist’s Daughter (A review of The Optimist’s Daughter by Eudora Welty  – 4*/5*) The Pulitzer winner of 1972 is a very short novella about a woman in her forties, Laurel losing her father and coming to terms with his death. “Even if you have kept silent for the sake of the dead, you cannot rest in your silence, as the dead rest.” I think it should he considered good etiquette not to attend a funeral even if one is invited, if one isn’t heavily grieved by loss of the deceased or of his/her close ones. I mean what is point of creating an indifferent crowd busy in gossiping and telling tales when there are people genuinely mourning? Isn’t disrespectful for dead? As it is, there is friction enough even among those genuinely grieved (which explains the argument in last chapter for me) Mourning seems to be a very private thing that people are forced to do in public. The impersonal, distant narration – with a lot of conversation thus had made this book a two star stuff. Because although the description was realistic, it was also too much at surface, even the characters didn’t impress.

The Red Room Scares of Jane Eyre

(Review of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë) “Do you never laugh, Miss Eyre?” Something that is commonly ignored in most feminist and romantic readings is that ‘Jane Eyre’ has earned Bronte a status as a predecessor of James Joyce and Proust in consciousness studies. Some childhood experiences, as any cyber-psychologist will tell you, will shape our consciousness and temperaments for life. With Jane, the memory is that of Red-room. After the incidence, Jane is constantly fleeing the three things that made it so scary – loneliness, submissiveness and closed places. Notice how frequently she is outdoor through out novel. She left her house, then Lowood and Thornfield fleeing one or other of the three but other characters in novel seems to have suffered them too. There is also that sadness about her – although she is not meloncholy but she is not really cheerful either. She believed she was locked in Red-room because of her plain looks and with those looks, no one will ever love her. Red-room and Bertha “If there is such a thing as good marriage than it is because it resembles friendship rather than love.” – Gabriel Marcuez Red room I had this friend in school. Whenever

Helen Keler

(A review of ‘The story of my life’ by Helen keler.) “Have you ever been at sea in a dense fog, when it seemed as if a tangible white darkness shut you in, and the great ship, tense and anxious, groped her way toward the shore with plummet and sounding-line, and you waited with beating heart for something to happen? I was like that ship before my education began, only I was without compass or sounding-line, and had no way of knowing how near the harbour was. “Light! give me light!” was the wordless cry of my soul I had long intended to read biography of Helen Keller. (Have you ever wondered how when we use first names when talking about characters but last name when talking authors?). Helen wrote this biography at age of 22 (two years before getting her graduation) – so most of it is about her childhood memories. Her communication with outside world was limited to touch and smell which wouldn’t have been enough, if it wasn’t for her teacher. “I felt approaching footsteps, I stretched out my hand as I supposed to my mother. Some one took it, and I was caught up and held

The Lonely Hunters

(The review of ‘The Heart is a lonely hunter’ by Carson McCullers) “The way I need you is a loneliness I can not bear.” Male whales attract their partners by making voices called ‘songs’. The pitch of the sound is normally below 40 Hz, inaudible to human ears. Female whales of each kind will recognise songs of their own kin. Now, there is believed to be an individual whale (only one of its kind) whose voice has been heard in Pacific Ocean at 52 hertz. Ever since 80s, his lonely songs have been heard – seeking, asking uselessly, year after year, for a companion in an ocean full of whales. This image of this lonely animal is as close as I can get to creating an impression of the book. Four characters in this novel – a teenager girl, a diner, a doctor, a labour worker aren’t much better than 52hertz whale. They too have their songs sentiments and they too have gone a long time of their life in lonely hunt for someone who can understand them. For different reasons, they are all very alone. The diner is struggling with loneliness of a childless, unhappy marriage, the labour worker


(Review of ‘Memoirs of Hadrian’ – a novel by Marguerite Yourcenar 5*/5* ) “But books lie, even those that are most sincere.” It is supposed to be historically most accurate novel – I can’t judge about that but I’m willing to take the word of knowledgeable people on that. What is so far more incredible is the way the author managed to make herself invisible in her work – you know how novels have their authors’ personality in them. You can’t normally come out of a novel without having some idea of author’s personality. Narrators of Proust and Celine look like so much like their mirror images; in other cases it is true to a lesser extent – but not in this case. The only thing you will have guessed about Yourcenar by reading MoH, is that she is genius. To create this believable a first person narrator is genius enough, but to recreate a fictional account of a real historical figure who lived in another age, was of other sex, much older  – well, we need a new word here. If I believed in spirits, I could have asserted that Hadrian’s had possessed Yourcenear. An innocent reader can easily led