Friday, February 29, 2008



I.H. RIZVI and N.F.RIZVI. Origin, Development and History of Indian English Poetry. Bareilly: Prakash Book Depot, 2008. Pages 244, Price: Rs. 220/-. ISBN: 978-81-7977-266-9.

If one wants to know about the post-Independence Indian English poetry, suggest Iftikhar Husain Rizvi and Nasreen Fatima Rizvi, one needs to read poeltry of such poets as “P.Lal, Krishna Srinivas, Nissim Ezekiel, Kamala Das, Keshav Malik, Pritish Nandy, Shiv K. Kumar, Jayanta Mahapatra, O.P. Bhatnagar, Maha Nand Sharma, Baldev Mirza, I.H.Rizvi, R.K.Singh, K.N. Daruwalla, Dwarkanath H. Kabadi, and Syed Ameeruddin.” For a clearer picture, I would like to add the names of a few more poets to their list:

I.K. Sharma, P. Raja, Gopal Honnalgere, Bibhu Padhi, Mani Rao, Anuradha Nalapet, Maria Netto, Mamang Dai, Angelee Deodhar, Kala Ramesh, K. Ramesh, PCK Prem, and R. Rabindranath Menon.

Not that Rizvi and Rizvi have not included these poets in their review of the Indian English poetic scene. In fact, in a brief span of about 240 pages, they have carefully, neatly, and imaginatively written about the origin and poetical scenario in the first half of the 19th century, the second half of the 19th century, before Independence, i.e. from 1901 to 1947, after independence, i.e. upto 1970 (male poets), and female poets (upto the present day).

The authors’ review of the poetry scene, though devoid of serious criticism or evaluation, offers a larger coverage to prove that Indian English poetry has a history of its own and distinct identity and maturity to spread its fragrance far and wide. They mention hundreds of new names in their survey of the rapid growth of Indian English poetry during 1971-1985: Jayanta Mahapatra, Syed Ameeruddin, S.C. Saha, Proaba Bandopadhyay, K.V.S. Murty, O.P. Bhatnagar, I.K.Sharma, Niranjan Mohanty, Dwarakanath H. Kabadi, Vikram Seth, I.H.Rizvi, R.K.Singh, D.C. Chambial, Dilip Chitre, Baldev Mirza, Arun Kolatkar, Laxmi Narayan Mahapatra, Hemant Kulkarni, A.C. Sahay, PCK Prem, EV Ramakrishnan, Hazara Singh, Saleem Peeradina, TV Reddy, HS Bhatia, and scores of others.

The review of the poetical scenario from 1986 to date mentions works of Narendarpal Singh, A. Padmanabhan, Mohammed Fakhruddin, C.R. Mahapatra, Darshan Singh Maini, M.A. Nare, V.S. Skanda Prasad, P.K.Joy, P. Raja, Gopal Honnalgere, Maha Nand Sharma, Tabish Khair, Krishan Gopal, Hoshang Merchant, Shailendra Natayan Tripathy, Charu Sheel Singh, Y.N. Vaish, C.K. Shreedharan, Moin Qazi, M.K. Gopinathan, S.Samal, P.K.Majumder, Vihang Naik, R.V. Smith, S.L. Peeran, Prabhat K. Singh, R.S. Tiwary, A.N. Dwivedi, Kanwar Dinesh Singh, C.L.Khatri, and hundreds others.

As obvious, the authors have tried to be comprehensive “in the sense that more than nine hundred Indian English poets with about 1480 collections find room in it.” (Preface). They have mentioned all the established poets alongside new and ignored poets. Rizvi

and Rizvi are fair, balanced and thorough in their presentation. They are clear in their mind that the current Indian English poetry scene is “crowded” with poetasters, versifiers, struggling poets, true poets, and great poets and that there is “a great need of putting things in the proper order….One has to sift gold from sands, but most of them, as far as possible, should be made a mention of.” (p.5).

The genre has survived over 175 years almost “without a tradition and without uniform source of creative energy. Its accomplishment lies in surviving without dogmas, without adequate critical support…. Its accomplishment lies, above all, in trying to stand alone and by itself,” to quote A.K.Srivastava.

Rizvi and Rizvi pay their tribute to the strengths of Indian poetry is English which is now internationally visible for encompassing “Indian situations, irony, mockery, satire against customs, rituals, politics, riches, contemporary problems, love and sex, and human relationship” (p.5).

In fact, their book complements a couple of earlier publications by this reviewer, namely, Indian English Writing: 1981-1985: Experiments with Expression (1987), Recent Indian English Poets: Expressions and Beliefs (1992), Anger in Action: Explorations of Anger in Indian Writing in English (1997), and the more recent, Voices of the Present: Critical Essays on Some Indian English Poets (2006).

There is substance in the authors’ claim that Origin, Development, and History of Indian English Poetry “is a ‘must’ for all the universities, degree and postgraduate colleges as also for professors and teachers of English in universities, research scholars, poets, and lovers of poetry.” It makes a refreshing reading and indeed offers a fuller picture of Indian English poetic creativity “after the end of colonialism”, and especially after 1970.


--Professor(Dr) R.K.Singh, Head of the Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences, Indian Schopol of Mines University, Dhanbad 826004 (Jharkhand).

Monday, February 25, 2008



1. Manoj Kumar . A Textbook for Objective Questions in English

Literature. Bareilly : Prakash Book Depot , 2008 , Price :

Rs. 150/- , Pages 142.

2. Sudhir K. Arora. A Key to Literary Forms and Terms. Bareilly:

Prakash Book Depot, 2008. Price : 40/-, Pages 100.

The UGC conducts National Eligibility Test ( NET ) in various subjects of Humanities, including English , and Social Sciences , for the award of Junior Research Fellowship ( as well as Lectureship ) for pursuing Ph. D. level research. The test comprises three session papers. The first paper is of general nature, intended to assess the research ( or teaching ) aptitude, without excluding reasoning ability , comprehension, and general awareness of the candidates. The second paper consists of short-answer questions based on the subject opted by the candidates.

The third paper contains only descriptive questions. It has four sections. Section I requires candidates to write a critique of a given passage. The questions in section II are definitional or seek particular information in short answer form. Section III relates to analytical or evaluative questions on the candidate’s major specialization / elective , as preferred. Section IV is based on essay types questions on general themes and contemporary , theoretical , or of disciplinary relevance to test the candidates ’ ability to expound critically a subject with discrimination.

Seen in this light, the two books under review seek to help aspiring candidates prepare for answering objective- type questions in English literature. Manoj Kumar’s book is composed to serve as a practice book for the UGC’ s NET and postgraduate students in English, providing “subjective material as well as objective questions” necessary for good preparation ( Preface ).

The author has divided the ‘textbook’ into ten units, providing the basic information about British literature from the Age of Chaucer to the Contemporary period , American Literature, Indian English literature, Literatures in translation, Literary theory and Criticism, and Rhetoric and Prosody.

Each unit begins with a brief mention of the author’s names and major works that make them notable, followed by objective-type questions ( with four options ). There is no subjective elaboration, nor is there a uniform pattern in the number of items (which vary between 101 to 138 from Unit I to IX) or their contents. It is at best haphazard.

In Unit I , for example, Geoffrey Chaucer’s name (in bold type), does not show his years of birth and death, but the entry on William Langland shows this. The years of birth and death are not l shown for John Gower, John Barbour, Sir John Mandeville, John Wycliff, Sir Thomas Malory and James I on page 1. Similarly, the publication date for some books are given but for others, it is missing. A uniform pattern should have been followed for each author, from the beginning to the end.

One also expects to find a short write-up on the general traits or characteristics about each of the ages/ periods alongside the major contributors that form the bulk of the objective-type questions. There should have been a proper ‘match’ between what Manoj Kumar calls “subjective knowledge ” of literature and objective questions for adequate practice from Unit I to VII.

However, he does write a readable introductory commentary in Unit VIII ( on American Literature and Indian English writers) and Unit IX ( an Literary Theory and Criticism ). The last Unit ( on Rhetoric and Prosody ), which has only 52 objective items for practising 31 terms is not as well developed as the two preceding units.

The list of Booker ( from 1969 to 2007 ) and Nobel ( from 1901 to 2007 ) Prize winners at the end is informative but Manoj Kumar should have also provided the names of the prize-winning books in the last three pages.

The second book , A Key to Literary Forms and Terms, should make up for the short falls in Unit X of Manoj Kumar’s textbook . In fact, Sudhir K. Arora claims to have included most of the important literary forms and terms “in capsule form” and provided plenty of multiple-choice practice exercises that should help aspiring candidates perform better in the competitive exams for fellowship and / or Lectureship in English literature.

In the first 29 pages, Arora has alphabetically arranged 117 literary forms and terms with useful references, but no examples. In the section on ‘Figures of Speech ’, Arora has abandoned this arrangement and included terms of rhetoric and prosody in the order it is generally available in most books. The examples, however, are helpful.

In both the books the authors have provided a key to all the objective items to self-help candidates in their preparation. However, Manoj Kumar has also added some 250 ‘Unsolved’ items to ensure that serious candidates really prepare well.

Given the present state of English Literature teaching in the country, books like A Textbook for Objective Questions in English Literature and A Key to Literary Forms and Terms are helpful to aspiring candidates in developing awareness though it is doubtful these help in developing any critical sense and research or reasoning ability.


Professor (Dr) R.K.SINGH, Head Dept of Humanities & Social Sciences,.

Indian School of Mines University, DHANBAD 826004, Jharkhand.