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Also, Udaya Kumar and Dilip Menon who have read and discussed it with me in its many stages. Downloaded from sih. So what kind of reality is contained within these novels whose portrayals have apparently left out three-quarters of Malayali life?
Unlike nineteenth century European realists whose novels reflect the cross-class complexities of their societies, these novels are characterized by their narrow focus on upper class Nayars, bringing them closer to Bengali realists like Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyaya whose work deals mainly with the Bengali bhadralok.
Here I wish to explore the possibility that the aesthetic of the modern in the novel is a reflection of the crisis of the self. The new bears markers of the old, and loss of the old is as deeply mourned as the enthusiasm with which the new is hailed. The differences between the two are not sliarp and dichotomous. Written by upper caste Nayar men, these novels draw on the resources provided by their cultural environment for their literary landscapes.
Urging for an authentic realism, he mocked those who baldly stated the obvious with prosaic minimalism. Instead, he advocated the use of evocative prose that would help the reader conjure up such emotions as anger, pain, love and so forth.
More- over, these would be furthered if the text were polyphonic. How good or how real would a novel be in which Brahmin, Nayar, Mappilla, men or women, from different regions of Malabar, all spoke alike? What is equally interesting of course is that he did not consider Indulekha or its clones, spawned by the dozen in the last decade of the nineteenth century, a worthy representative of such realism!
One is regarding the presence of the cultural matrix within these novels-for instance, it allows one to ask how, or indeed, why Nayar society is represented here. Todorov, The Poetics of Prose, Oxford, , pp. Williams, ed. Gopala- krishnan, ed. Chandu Menon, Indulekha , trans. Dumergue, Calicut, , pp. Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination , Texas, There are two important ideas here that I wish to develop through the essay-one the relational nature of the self and second, of its unbounded and seamless character, constantly in a state of flux.
Moreover, the multivocality of these texts raises the important question-can a universalized, nationalized reading of the modern Indian novel be possible? I shall return to these questions later. II The earliest novel was written in Kerala in the late nineteenth century, a time when this society was undergoing fundamental transformations. Older forms of marriage customs, inheritance practices and property rights were in the process of being questioned.
All these were directed against the power and privilege of the landowning households or taravads. On the one hand, the propertied castes of the Nayars and the Nambudiri Brahmins were facing an increasing amount of opposition from their tenants and lower caste dependents.
On the other, internal differences especially within the Nayar community, over marriage and inheritance, were challenging the authority of family elders and caste elites alike. The battles over tenancy had led to sustained debates and the resultant legislations of the s provided some respite to the more substantial tenantry. The s witnessed a protracted debate on the nature of marriage and attendant morality amongst the matrilineal Nayars.
The central issue was whether the practice of sambandham followed by the Nayars, constituted a valid marriage or not. Sambandham was the customary manner in which Nayars entered into sexual relations with each other. Ritually there were minor variations between different regions in Malabar; it essentially involved a small ceremony indicating the beginning of a sexual union.
While theor- etically Nayars were polyandrous, i. Evidence for polyandry is practically non-existent, though many of them certainly had more than one relationship in their life, after the death of, or separation from, one partner. What was even more dramatic was that the conjugal union in a sambatidham did not create a distinct socio-economic unit.
Nayar women continued to live within their natal taravads households , and descent too was traced in the female line. Even in the instances where women went to Downloaded from sih. The ire regarding sambandham was fuelled by a variety of causes.
Their attacks echoed the currently fashionable ideas of Victorian repressiveness; ideologically the evolutionary theorists of the late nineteenth century provided a voca- bulary that was quickly marshalled to strengthen their position. They wanted the government to initiate a legislation that would legalize mono- gamous marriage which would ensure long lasting relationships, not dis- soluble at will.
In addition, they also urged for legal intervention in allowing for bilateral inheritance. In other words, the conjugal unit and not the taravad was to be treated as the primary socio-economic unit,. While the arguments for biological families and the sanctity of the marital bond were couched in highly emotive language, their more arid legal aspect revealed the strategy for enabling easy partitions.
In the debate on marriage, one of the main points of agitation was the sambandhams between Nayar women and Nambudiri brahmin men. Since the marital bond did not entail the pooling of resources or the creation of a common socio-economic unit, this did not cause much concern for either community. The origins of this custom are shrouded in mystery but in the late nineteenth century this became the focal point of the debate. The Nayar reformers argued that their community had been pushed into their backward, matrilineal state with barbaric practices like polyandry by the Nambudiri brahmins.
The Nambudiri men were allowed up to four wives at any time, but only one of these could be from their own community, and that too was allowed only to the eldest son. This meant that most Nambudiri men often entered into sambandhams with Nayar women. As the Nambudiris were a strictly patrilineal community with elaborate joint-family arrangements and pri- mogeniture, none of the children born out of their unions with Nayar women ever inherited their property.
III In this section I shall discuss two novels and their authors. Indu- briefly lekha, written in , is love story set in the context of the landed a families of Malabar.
Its author, Chandu Menon, was born in in Kodungallur in Cochin state, but grew up in Tellicherry in north Malabar. He worked Downloaded from sih. In he was promoted to the post of District munsif, a job he held till his death, and it was at this time that he began working on his famous novel.
It was due to his knowledge of Malabar, colonial law, and an apparent closeness to British officials like William Logan that Chandu Menon was appointed as one of the Commissioners on the Malabar Marriage Com- mission set up in They resolve to marry each other.
Meanwhile, her guardian and grandfather, Panchu Menon, throws Madhavan out of the house in a fit of anger Madhavan wishes to educate one of his younger cousins and resolves to prevent their marriage. He attempts unsuccessfully to arrange a match between Indulekha and a rich, though lascivious, Nambudiri brahmin.
With the right degree of mishaps, heartache and separation Madhavan is wrongly informed that Indulekha had married the Nambudiri and sets off on a journey around the country to ease his pain; Indulekha on learning that Madhavan had left without confirming this rumour is distraught, both because of his lack of trust in her, and because of her inability to communicate the true state of affairs to him all complications are sorted out and a reconciliation contrived.
The novel ends in marriage and the happy couple and their two children live happily ever after in Madras. A perfectly ordinary love story with a predictable ending; so, what is so special about Indulekha? In this essay, I am concerned with two themes in Indulekha. One, the interesting ambiguities about desire, sexuality and marriage encoded in the story.
Second, with the manner in which the 8 T.
Sankara Menon, Chandu Menon, Delhi, , pp. For the purposes of the first broad theme, that relating to sexuality and marriage, I propose to read Indulekha along with a text remarkably at variance with it. There were two broad positions regarding sexuality and marriage that surfaced in the debates on marriage reform in this period.
This was to be undertaken by controlling and disciplining unbridled sexuality by legislating for monogamous marriage. In addition, he feared that such a legislation would do away with caste strictures on Nayars which restricted their legitimate sexual relations to members of their own caste and with Nambudiris.
He argued that any form of marriage customarily prevalent in a community and acceptable to its practitioners should be accepted as constituting legitimate practice. What is significant here is the apparently paradoxical position occupied by Chandu Menon as legislator and author.
On a closer look what emerges is that while both the Memorandui. An important reason could be the dominance of ideas of 10 In , the Malabar Marriage Commission was set up to investigate into the sexual practices of the Nayars of Malabar and whether legislative intervention in the shape of a Marriage Law was necessary to correct this. Chandu Menon, district court judge at Calicut, was one of the six members of this Commission.
He was the only dissenting voice when the proceedings were eventually concluded. The attempt of men involved in marriage reform in the period was to discipline female sexuality and monogamous marriage removed the threat posed by polyandrous relations. Daniel becomes King of Green Valley and Angela becomes Well, you will have to read to find out. This short fiction story is about a guy named Jeff. His transition from a bachelor to a married man, his love for his family and his passion for his career make him overall an excellent and unique man to get along with.
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Right Short Stories Rating: Randamoozham by M. Vasudevan Nair With a revisionist narrative of the epic Mahabharata, this book is one of the most widely read Malayalam classics ever produced.
What makes the novel an engaging and pensive read is the protagonist—Bhima.
Considered to be M. Diverging from the timeworn narrative involving divine elements, Randamoozham Second Turn , give its due share to the actual draftsman behind the victory of Pandavas.
Translated by Gita Krishnankutty as Bhima: Lone Warrior in , the book continues to enjoy a cult status in the state and will soon be adapted as a mega-budget feature film.
Verukal by Malayattoor Ramakrishnan Believed to be semi-autobiographical, Verukal Roots is one of the best works of Malayattoor Ramakrishnan.
Originally settled elsewhere, the protagonist comes to his native village with the sole intention of selling his ancestral property. However, over the period of his stay, he ends up treading down memory lane and hits a realisation that forms the crux of the story. Resonating with those who left their native towns in search of employment and other pursuits, it is a story of homecoming that strikes a chord, right in the heart.
The English translation of the book which goes by the name Roots was published in It is the hard-hitting story of a gulf-aspirant who, upon finally reaching his dreamland, ends up leading a slave-like existence herding goats in the middle of the Saudi desert. Based on real-life incidents, the novel goes through a series of incidents that illustrate the journey of a man through extreme adversity and loneliness, pushing the man to hatch a life-threatening scheme to escape his desert prison.
Touted as one of top best-sellers of present-day Malayalam Literature, Aatujeevitham was also the recipient of Kerala Literary Academy Award for the year