Hail Ida Pollock ! 105 Years Old Eternal Romantic


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MAY 04 , 2013           08.45 P.M.

I must admit that I have never heard the name Ida Pollock / Ida Pallock . When Ida Pollock turned 105 last month and when several newspapers carried articles about her , then I started searching about her . I was startled to know that she has written 70 Mills & Boon novels . I never knew it because for Mills & Boon series she used pseudonyms . She wrote them under the names Susan Barrie, Pamela Kent, Rose Burghley or Mary Whistler.

I was amazed to know that she is such prolific that in her 105 years of life , she has written 123 novels . And at 105 , she is about to publish her 124th novel . I would love to be like her but alas , I am unable to match her accomplishments . Self-proclaimed most famous acting school of Mumbai , self-anointed most famous acting institute of India and self-appointed most famous acting academy of bollywood have no time for such literary giants and their pursuits .

Ida Pollock / Pallock / Crowe (born 12 April 1908) , is a British writer of several short-stories and 123 romance novels under her married name, Ida Pollock, and under her numerous pseudonyms: Susan Barrie, Pamela Kent, Averil Ives, Anita Charles, Barbara Rowan, Jane Beaufort, Rose Burghley, Mary Whistler and Marguerite Bell.

Novalist Ida Pollock aged 105, at her home in Lanreath, Cornwall
Prolific: Ida still writing at the age of 105

Ida Pollock has written 123 novels and has sold millions of books over nine decades with titles such as White Heat and Interlude for Love.

She has millions of fans but has largely avoided the limelight by writing under a whopping TEN pseudonyms. Her daughter Rosemary said , “ Pen names are very common in romance writing . Mum’s publishers always insisted on them because readers associated different styles with different names. ”

Despite turning 105 last week Ida is still writing, and her latest 124th novel , The Runaway is due to be published shortly.

She no longer sits at her typewriter but dictates to daughter Rosemary, 69, at their remote country home in Lanreath near Looe, Cornwall.

 

her romantic tales were published under different pen names

Pseudonyms … her romantic tales were published under different pen names
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Born in Lewisham, South London, Ida began writing thrillers in her teens and finished her first, The Hills of Raven’s Haunt, at 14.

After becoming a full-time writer in the 1930s, Ida turned to romance and penned a string of hits under the first of her ten pseudonyms, Joan Allen.

At her most prolific Ida produced 40 books in five years — all based around the timeless formula of naive young heroines saved from danger by rugged, older men.

In 1956 alone Ida had eight romances published under five pen names — each around 70,000 words long and all finishing with a happy ending.

Ida has only released a handful of books under her own name and still publishes under the last of her alter-egos, Marguerite Bell.

Ida has written 123 books

Prolific … Ida has written 123 books
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A Distant Drum, her most recent novel, came out in 2005. Ida’s memoirs, Starlight, were published in 2009.

Famous Ida quotes :

“A romance is never just a romance, there’s adventure, mystery and movement. “

“ You need a grand, dramatic setting — the Swiss Alps were always a personal favourite of mine — and a chance meeting, on a train, a cruise, or perhaps the hero and heroine find themselves shipwrecked on a desert island. “

“The men are normally rich, well-to-do — but never vulgar with their money. Young men lack the maturity to take control so an older man is essential to provide the reassurance the heroine needs. “

“There’s always a fair amount of turbulence before he sweeps in to save the day. A happy ending is an absolute must.”

“I think I was born to write. My mother would put a typewriter on the dining room table and say ‘there you go’. “

“My first story was published in the Christian Herald and they would pay me five guineas. I wrote my first novel when I was just 14. “

“I was into mysteries and thrillers at the time but I eventually I drifted into romance because my mother would always ask me to write ‘something pretty’.

“I’ve never got bored with it because it’s something I absolutely love. My books are full of hope and romance rather than sex.

“They are a form of escapism — you can escape the parts of the world that you don’t like.”

” It takes me about six weeks to write a novel. “

Ida reads to daughter Rosemary who now types up her novels

Team … she reads to daughter Rosemary who now types up her novels

Books As Ida Pollock :

Single novels

  • The Gentle Masquerade, 1964
  • The Uneasy Alliance, 1965
  • Lady in danger, 1967
  • Summer Conspiracy 1969/02
  • Country Air, 1970/08

Non fiction

  • Starlight, 2009

On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , which is known as Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , I wish her a long and healthy life . May God give her some more literary years .

[ Since I was not familiar with her name , so naturally I have culled information about her from internet , Wikipedia and several newspaper articles . I express sincere thanks . ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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200 Years of ” Pride And Prejudice “


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           FEBRUARY 10 , 2013           11.40 P.M.

Few days back I read news that iconic and timeless classic ” Pride and Prejudice ” , a novel written by Jane Austen , has completed 200 years of its journey . Immediately my mind went into flashback . The year was 1972 and the place was English department of Allahabad University . I had taken admission in the English department for my post graduation in English Literature and thus got introduced to the world of Jane Austen as this novel ” Pride and Prejudice ” was in my course .

I frankly admit that at that time I was unable to understand the novel completely . I was not able to comprehend the intricacies of 19th century England and thus was unable to appreciate the novel . But I was aware of its iconic status and was told by my professors that it is a timeless classic . I decided to read it again in future but was unable to fulfill my resolution due to lack of time . And now in 2013 , when I am engulfed in the activities of my acting institute , ” Pride and Prejudice ” has silently completed 200 years of its existence .

Title page from the first edition of the first...

Title page from the first edition of the first volume of Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pride and Prejudice is a novel by Jane Austen, first published in 1813. The story follows the main character Elizabeth Bennet as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of early 19th-century England. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London.

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Though the story is set at the turn of the 19th century, it retains a fascination for modern readers, continuing near the top of lists of ‘most loved books’ such as The Big Read. It has become one of the most popular novels in English literature and receives considerable attention from literary scholars. Modern interest in the book has resulted in a number of dramatic adaptations and an abundance of novels and stories imitating Austen’s memorable characters or themes. To date, the book has sold some 20 million copies worldwide.

As Anna Quindlen wrote, “Pride and Prejudice is also about that thing that all great novels consider, the search for self. And it is the first great novel to teach us that search is as surely undertaken in the drawing-room making small talk as in the pursuit of a great white whale or the public punishment of adultery.”

Adaptations

Film, television, and theatre

Pride and Prejudice (1940 film)

Pride and Prejudice (1940 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cropped screenshot of Greer Garson from the tr...

Cropped screenshot of Greer Garson from the trailer for the film Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

pride and prejudice

Pride and Prejudice

Pride and Prejudice (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

Pride and Prejudice has engendered numerous adaptations. Some of the notable film versions include that of 1940 starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier, (based in part on Helen Jerome’s 1936 stage adaptation) and that of 2005 starring Keira Knightley (in an Oscar-nominated performance) and Matthew Macfadyen.Notable television versions include two by the BBC: the popular 1995 version starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, and a 1980 version starring Elizabeth Garvie and David Rintoul. A 1936 stage version was created by Helen Jerome played at the St. James’s Theatre in London, starring Celia Johnson and Hugh Williams. First Impressions was a 1959 Broadway musical version starring Polly Bergen, Farley Granger, and Hermione Gingold.In 1995, a musical concept album was written by Bernard J. Taylor, with Peter Karrie in the role of Mr Darcy and Claire Moore in the role of Elizabeth Bennet. A new stage production, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, The New Musical, was presented in concert on 21 October 2008 in Rochester, New York, with Colin Donnell as Darcy.

Bride and Prejudice, a movie by Gurinder Chadha, starring Aishwarya Rai, is a Bollywood adaptation of the novel; while Pride & Prejudice: A Latter-Day Comedy (2003), starring Kam Heskin and Orlando Seale, places the novel at a Mormon university in modern times. The Off-Broadway musical I Love You Because reverses the gender of the main roles, set in modern-day New York City. The Japanese comic Hana Yori Dango by Yoko Kamio, in which the wealthy, arrogant and proud protagonist, Doumyouji Tsukasa, falls in love with a poor, lower-class girl named Makino Tsukushi, is loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. A 2008 Israeli television six-part miniseries set the story in the Galilee with Mr Darcy a well-paid worker in the high-tech industry.

Pride and Prejudice has also crossed into the science fiction and horror genres. In the 1997 episode of science fiction comedy Red Dwarf entitled “Beyond a Joke“, the crew of the space ship relax in a virtual reality rendition of “Pride and Prejudice Land” in “Jane Austen World”. The central premise of the television miniseries Lost in Austen is a modern woman suddenly swapping lives with that of Elizabeth Bennet. In February 2009, it was announced that Elton John‘s Rocket Pictures production company was making a film, Pride and Predator, based on the story, but with the added twist of an alien landing in Longbourn. Also in production is the movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies based on the book of the same name written by Seth Grahame-Smith, where the village of Longbourn is terrorized by zombies.

The book has also been adapted for modern times in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a mixed media web show created by Hank Green and Bernie Su. The video blog follows Lizzie Bennet, a graduate student in mass communications, and includes companion video blogs, Twitter accounts, and tumblrs for many of the other characters.

This summer, to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the publication of the novel in 1813, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in London will be performing Simon Reade’s stage adaptation. The production will be directed by Deborah Bruce.

It is amazing that this novel’s popularity refuses to ebb . And it is sad that I am yet to redeem my pledge to read and appreciate this immortal and timeless classic called ” Pride and Prejudice ” . On the 200 anniversary , I am again promising myself to read this novel soon . Though my time is consumed by my acting academy Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , but still I intend to read the novel soon .

[ Some facts and data about ” Pride and Prejudice ” has been taken from Wikipedia . I am indebted . ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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George Orwell & Bihar Connection


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           DECEMBER 03 , 2012           11.59 P.M.

In today’s newspaper I read an innocuous article about my favourite writer George Orwell . It was about his birthplace in Motihari , Bihar . I always knew that he was born in Bihar but I was shocked to see the dilapidated building where George Orwell was born and spent some of his earlier years . Rooftop tiles are caving in and its neglected existence is precariously waiting for a calamity .

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Compare the above structure with Orwell’s well maintained house in London . You can see the difference .

George Orwell's House, Portobello Road - London.

George Orwell’s House, Portobello Road – London. (Photo credit: Jim Linwood)

Even his house in Burma , where he stayed for few years ,  is well maintained compared to the Motihari , Bihar house where he was born .

The house George Orwell stayed in while in Kat...

The house George Orwell stayed in while in Katha, Burma (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Nitish Kumar

Nitish Kumar – Chief Minister , Bihar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bihar government headed by Nitish Kumar is doing nothing to preserve the historic structure . Nitish Kumar has time to visit Pakistan and sing paeans in praise of present – day rulers of Pakistan . He has enough time to criticize Narendra Modi and still maintaining relationship with Bharatiya Janata Party but he or his government has no time for preservation of George Orwell’s birthplace . I doubt majority of present – day dispensation in Bihar is oblivious of Orwell’s importance . For them demonizing Narendra Modi is more important .

[ To make Nitish Kumar and his ministers – in – crime aware of George Orwell’s importance , I am reproducing some fact about his literary genius from Wikipedia . ]

English: George Orwell in Hampstead On the cor...

George Orwell in Hampstead On the corner of Pond Street and South End Road, opposite the Royal Free Hospital. The bookshop has long gone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Eric Arthur Blair

(25 June 1903 – 21 January 1950)

Eric Arthur Blair , known by his pen name George Orwell, was an English novelist and journalist.

Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945), which together have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th-century author.

His book Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, is widely acclaimed, as are his numerous essays on politics, literature, language and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″.

Cover of

Cover of Animal Farm: Centennial Edition

Category:George Orwell Category:Nineteen Eight...

George Orwell, 1984. This self-made image is based on a picture that appears in an old acreditation for the BNUJ.) Picture of George Orwell taken from File:GeoreOrwell.jpg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Orwell’s work continues to influence popular and political culture, and the term Orwellian—descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices—has entered the vernacular with several of his neologisms, such as doublethink, thoughtcrime, Big Brother and thought police.

It is sad that his birthplace is so neglected and is on the verge of extinction . I am a huge fan of George Orwell and during my Allahabad days , have read his above mentioned books , ” Animal Form ” and ” 1984 ” . I remember many dull and dusty summer afternoons and long , cold and wintry winter nights of Allahabad , when sitting in my room of Sir Ganga Nath Jha Hostel , I used to discuss these books with my friends and seniors . Orwell had huge fan following among my generation .

My generation used to hero – worship George Orwell . I am extremely sad and I know that every one of my generation will be feeling the same .

I , on behalf of myself and all the students and staff of my acting institute  Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , denounce Bihar government in strongest term and urge them to shed their apathy . George Orwell is too important a literary giant to get this treatment .

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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100 Years of Sa’adat Hasan Manto


 

 

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           August 02 , 2012           00.40 A.M.

This year is the Anniversary Year of so many historical and literary figures and luminaries of our generation . Anniversaries of various historical events are also being celebrated this year . These anniversary celebrations , as I remember , took momentum from 2010 . Or may be , since I was not into blogging , I never realized or became aware of their existence .

In 2010 we celebrated 2 anniversaries . They were ; 100 YEARS OF HISTORIC JUMP OF VEER SAVARKAR , and 150 YEARS OF TAGORE .

In 2011 there were 6 anniversaries . They were as varied as ; 40 YEARS OF VIJAY DIWAS & BIRTH OF BANGLADESH , 50 YEARS OF THE LIBERATION OF GOA , DAMAN & DIU , 100 YEARS OF OUR NATIONAL ANTHEM , 100 YEARS OF NEW DELHI , 150 YEARS OF MAHAMANA MALVIYA and 250YEARS OF THE 3RD BATTLE OF PANIPAT .

This year only half of 2012 is over and we have already celebrated 4 anniversaries . They are ; 60 YEARS OF CORONATION OF QUEEN ELIZABETH II , 150 YEARS OF THE 1ST CHRISTIAN SAINT OF INDIA , 150 YEARS OF SWAMI VIVEKANANDA and 200 YEARS OF CHARLES DICKENS .

Now I am writing about the 5th , 100 YEARS OF SA’ADAT HASAN MANTO .

8 more anniversaries are tempting me to write a blog on them . It comes to total 13 anniversaries in 2012 .

Quite early in my life , I was slowly introduced to Indian literature , then English literature and finally Russian and world literature . In Indian literature my first brush was with Bengali literature . Hindi literature came later and then came Urdu literature . Other Indian literature , translated in Hindi , came much later in my life .

Indian Books 3

Indian Books (Photo credit: Celeste33)

When I talk about Urdu literature , I must make a note that my first introduction was through the poetry . Shairi , as Urdu poetry is known , was my early fascination . HIND POCKET BOOKS came out with Hindi transliteration [ not translation ] of various works of Shairs or poets of Urdu . I bought them and became familiar with Urdu poetry and grew into a life long fan . I still remember many Urdu couplets or Sher by heart .

The phrase Zaban-e Urdu-e Mualla (

The phrase Zaban-e Urdu-e Mualla (“The language of the exalted camp”) written in Nasta’liq script. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Urdu prose came much later in my life . Kishan Chandar was the first Urdu novelist , whose works I read and admired . I have heard about Sa’adat Hasan Manto and his works during those days but I didn’t read him as he was despised by large number of people including my teachers and was vehemently criticized by the critics and intelligentsia .

English: manto in his middle age.

Sa’adat Hasan Manto in his middle age. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So naturally I avoided reading him . In my mind he was akin to novelists like Kushwaha Kant and Ibn – e – Shafi B.A. Though hugely popular , these two authors are not considered as men of letters . Now I am very much ashamed that once upon a time I thought so low of Manto and degraded him .

My impression about him changed when I read his memoirs about the famous personalities of Hindi film industry . I was impressed with his style of prose writing and lucidity of  language .

Sa’adat Hassan Manto (May 11, 1912 – January 18, 1955)  is best known for his short stories, “Bu” , “Khol Do” , “Thanda Gosht” , and his magnum opus, “Toba Tek Singh“.

Manto was also a film and radio scriptwriter and a journalist . In his short life , he published twenty-two collections of short stories , one novel , five collections of radio plays , three collections of essays , and two collections of personal sketches.

Manto was tried for obscenity six times, thrice before 1947 and thrice after 1947 in Pakistan , but never convicted . Some of his works have been translated in other languages .

Saadat Hasan Manto is often compared with D. H. Lawrence , and like Lawrence he also wrote about the topics considered social taboos in Indo-Pakistani Society . His concerns on the sociopolitical issues , from local to global level are revealed in his series , Letters to Uncle Sam , and those to Pandit Nehru . On his writing he often commented , “If you find my stories dirty , the society you are living in is dirty . With my stories, I only expose the truth .”

After 1936 , he moved to Bombay  [ now Mumbai ] where he stayed for the next 5 years editing Musawwir , a monthly film magazine . He also started writing scripts and dialogues for Hindi films , including ” Kishan Kanhaiya ” [ 1936 ]  and ” Apni Nagariya ” [ 1939 ] . He continued writing for films until he left for Delhi in January 1941 .

Manto accepted the job of writing for Urdu Service of All India Radio in 1941. This proved to be his most productive period as in the next eighteen months he published over four collections of radio plays , Aao , Manto ke Drame , Janaze , and Teen Auraten . He continued to write short stories and his next short story collection Dhuan was soon out followed by Manto ke Afsane and his first collection of topical essays , Manto ke Mazamin . This period culminated with the publication of his mixed collection Afsane aur Drame in 1943 . Meanwhile , due to a quarrel with then director of the All India Radio , poet N. M. Rashid , he left his job and returned to Bombay in July 1942 and again started working with film industry . He entered his best phase in screenwriting giving films like ” Aatth Din ” , ” Chal Chal Re Naujawanand ” Mirza Ghalib ” , which was finally released in 1954 .

Some of his best short stories also came from this phase including  “Kaali Shalwar” ,  “Dhuan”  (1943) and “Bu”, which was published in Qaumi Jang (Bombay) in February 1945 . Another highlight of his second phase in Bombay was the publication of an important collection of his stories , Chugad . He stayed in Bombay until he moved to Pakistan in January 1948 after the partition of India in 1947.

During those days in Pakistan , Manto tried his hand at newspaper column writing . He started off with writing under the title Chashm-e-Rozan for daily Maghribi Pakistan on the insistence of his friends of Bombay days , Ehsan Ba and Murtaza Jillani, who were editing that paper . After a few columns, the space appeared blank under the column saying that due to his indisposition Manto couldn’t write the column. Actually, the owner was not favourably disposed to some of the content .

The only paper that published Manto’s articles regularly for quite some time was Daily Afaq , for which he wrote some of his well-known sketches . These sketches were later collected in his book Ganjay Farishtay . The sketches include those of famous actors and actresses like Ashok Kumar, Shyam, Nargis, Noor Jehan and Naseem (mother of Saira Banu) . He also wrote about some literary figures like Meera Ji , Hashar Kashmiri and Ismat Chughtai . Manto’s sketch of Muhammad Ali Jinnah was also first published in Afaq under the title Mera Sahib.

He , during his later years in Pakistan , embarked on a journey of self-destruction . The substandard alcohol that he consumed destroyed his liver and in the winter of 1955 he fell victim to liver cirrhosis . He was 42 years old at the time of his death. He was survived by his wife Safiyah and three daughters . Born in 1912 in Samrala , Ludhiana district of Indian Punjab , he died in 1955 in Lahore , Pakistani Punjab .

This year in 2012 India and Pakistan , both the countries , are celebrating his anniversary .

Manto collection (Books)

  • Atishparay (Nuggets Of Fire) – 1936
  • Chugaad
  • Manto Ke Afsanay (Stories of Manto) – 1940
  • Dhuan (Smoke) – 1941
  • Afsane Aur Dramay (Fiction and Drama) – 1943
  • Lazzat-e-Sang-1948 (The Taste Of Rock)
  • Siyah Hashiye-1948 (Black Borders)
  • Badshahat Ka Khatimah (The End of Kingship) – 1950
  • Khali Botlein (Empty Bottles) – 1950
  • Loud Speaker
  • Nimrud Ki Khudai (Nimrod The God) – 1950
  • Thanda Gosht (Cold Meat) – 1950
  • Yazid – 1951
  • Pardey Ke Peechhey (Behind The Curtains) – 1953
  • Sarak Ke Kinarey (By the Roadside) – 1953
  • Baghair Unwan Ke (Without a Title) – 1954
  • Baghair Ijazit (Without Permission) – 1955
  • Burquey – 1955
  • Phunduney (Tassles) – 1955
  • Sarkandon Ke Peechhey (Behind The Reeds) -1955
  • Shaiytan (Satan) – 1955
  • Shikari Auratein (Women Of Prey) – 1955
  • Ratti, Masha, Tolah-1956
  • Kaali Shalwar (Black Pants) – 1961
  • Manto Ki Behtareen Kahanian (Best Stories of Manto) – 1963
  • Tahira Se Tahir (From Tahira to Tahir) – 1971

I was re – introduced to him and his literary world , when I started training Dino Morea recently . We read several stories written by Manto and discussed them and thus a new vision about Manto was opened in front of my eyes . I deeply regret that once upon a time I degraded him in my mind and didn’t read his books earlier .

[ List of the works of Manto and some dates and facts of his life is taken from Wikipedia . I express my gratitude . ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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200 Years of Charles Dickens


MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 29 , 2012           00.30 A.M.

Charles Dickens, a former resident of Lant Street.

Charles Dickens. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Years ago , when I was still a child , my grand father introduced me to the world of books . He bought some books from Gita Press , Gorakhpur and gave them to me . Those were illustrated books about the lives of Bhagwan Ram and Bhagwan Krishna . Each illustration was explained with the help of a couplet . I still remember the name of the books ; BAL CHITRAMAYA RAM LEELA and BAL CHITRAMAYA KRISHNA LEELA  . I read those books countless times , almost mugged up each line and I still possess those books in my library in Deoria .

Since then I was hooked to the world of books and the fascination still continues many decades later . When I was in High School , I became member of GHARELU LIBRARY YOJNA of  HIND POCKET BOOKS , which was initiated by a famous Hindi publication house , Rajpal & Sons .

I used to order books and used to receive them through post office . One muggy afternoon , when the post man delivered packet of books to me , I opened the packet with excitement . There was a book titled DO SHEHRON KI DASTAN . I glanced the book and went through the introduction and got to know the name of the writer . It was Charles Dickens . I also got to know that original name of the book in English . It was A TALE OF TWO CITIES .

It was my first introduction with the celebrated British writer . Though I could not complete the reading because I got bored . Many years later , when I was doing post graduation in Allahabad University , I got to know the writer once again . A TALE OF TWO CITIES was in my course and this time I was able to understand it properly . I then realized beauty of his prose and appreciated his style of narration . Hindi translation , which I read years ago , was not lucid enough .

 

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

When I read in the papers that 2012 is the 200th birth anniversary of the celebrated British author and novelist , I decided to note down my encounter of Charles Dickens also . These old memories , which were consigned in some dark and hither to unvisited corners of my being , rushed to the firmament and I decided to become a part of the 200th anniversary celebration of Charles Dickens .

My curiosity reached its zenith , when I read a news item in a paper . The heading was enough to draw my again to Charles Dickens .  ”  Christopher and Jonathan Nolan Explain How A TALE OF TWO CITIES Influenced THE DARK KNIGHT RISES “

Charles Dickens a.k.a. Charles John Huffam Dickens , ( 7 February 1812 – 9 June 1870) was an English writer and social critic who is generally regarded as the greatest novelist of the Victorian period and the creator of some of the world’s most memorable fictional characters .During his lifetime Dickens’s works enjoyed unprecedented popularity and fame , and by the twentieth century his literary genius was fully recognized by critics and scholars . His novels and short stories continue to enjoy an enduring popularity among the general reading public .

Born in Portsmouth , England , Dickens left school to work in a factory after his father was thrown into debtors’ prison . Though he had little formal education , his early impoverishment drove him to succeed . He edited a weekly journal for 20 years , wrote 15 novels and hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles , lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer , and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights , education , and other social reforms .

 

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dickens rocketed to fame with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers . Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity , celebrated for his humour , satire , and keen observation of character and society . His novels , most published in monthly or weekly instalments , pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction , which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication .The instalment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction , and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback . For example , when his wife’s chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities , Dickens went on to improve the character with positive lineaments . Fagin in Oliver Twist apparently mirrors the famous fence , Ikey Solomon ; His caricature of Leigh Hunt in the figure of Mr Skimpole in Bleak House was likewise toned down on advice from some of his friends , as they read episodes . In the same novel , both Lawrence Boythorne and Mooney the beadle are drawn from real life – Boythorne from Walter Savage Landor and Mooney from ‘Looney’ , a beadle at Salisbury Square . His plots were carefully constructed , and Dickens often wove in elements from topical events into his narratives .Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them , opening up and inspiring a new class of readers .

Dickens was regarded as the ‘literary colossus’ of his age .His 1843 novella , A Christmas Carol , is one of the most influential works ever written , and it remains popular and continues to inspire adaptations in every artistic genre . His creative genius has been praised by fellow writers—from Leo Tolstoy to G. K. Chesterton and George Orwell—for its realism , comedy , prose style , unique characterisations , and social criticism . On the other hand Oscar Wilde , Henry James and Virginia Woolf complained of a lack of psychological depth , loose writing , and a vein of saccharine sentimentalism .

Most of Dickens’s major novels were first written in monthly or weekly instalments in journals such as Master Humphrey’s Clock and Household Words , later reprinted in book form . These instalments made the stories cheap , accessible and the series of regular cliff-hangers made each new episode widely anticipated . When The Old Curiosity Shop was being serialized , American fans even waited at the docks in New York , shouting out to the crew of an incoming ship , “Is little Nell dead ? ” Part of Dickens’s great talent was to incorporate this episodic writing style but still end up with a coherent novel at the end .

Charles Dickens published over a dozen major novels , a large number of short stories (including a number of Christmas-themed stories) , a handful of plays , and several non-fiction books . Dickens’s novels were initially serialised in weekly and monthly magazines , then reprinted in standard book formats .

Novels

Short story collections

Christmas numbers of Household Wordsmagazine:

  • What Christmas Is, as We Grow Older (1851)
  • A Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1852)
  • Another Round of Stories by the Christmas Fire (1853)
  • The Seven Poor Travellers (1854)
  • The Holly-Tree Inn (1855)
  • The Wreck of the “Golden Mary” (1856)
  • The Perils of Certain English Prisoners (1857)
  • A House to Let (1858)
Christmas numbers of All the Year Roundmagazine:

  • The Haunted House (1859)
  • A Message from the Sea (1860)
  • Tom Tiddler’s Ground (1861)
  • Somebody’s Luggage (1862)
  • Mrs. Lirriper’s Lodgings (1863)
  • Mrs. Lirriper’s Legacy (1864)
  • Doctor Marigold’s Prescriptions (1865)
  • Mugby Junction (1866)
  • No Thoroughfare (1867)

Selected non-fiction, poetry, and plays

[ Facts of his life and list of the books , written by him , are taken from Wikipedia . I express my deep gratitude . ]

 

Charles Dickens, ca. 1865

Charles Dickens & His Famous Chair (Photo credit: Penn State Special Collections Library)

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150 Years of Tagore


On May 09, 2010 as the world started celebrating 150 birth anniversary of Rabindra Nath Tagore, I started thinking about the Nobel prize winning author, who,among the writers, has influenced me most. Throughout the day, while unpacking my bags after my return from Dabra, a small town near Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh, I kept on thinking about Rabindra Nath Tagore, his works and his legacy. Death is a very important and prominent feature in Tagore’s writings and death is the most intriguing part of my psyche. My feelings were compounded that day, as I was returning from the shraddha of my wife’s bhabhi.

I was introduced to the writings of Tagore in between 1965/1967. Rajpal & Sons, a very prominent and influential publishing house started a programme called Gharelu Library Yojana ( Domestic Library Scheme ). In this scheme they were publishing cheaper version of classics under the name of Hind Pocket Books. Abridged versions were priced Rs. 1.00 and un-abridged version were priced Rs. 2.00. This price tag seems impossible and implausible today. But it was a thriving scheme of its time. They published all the classics of Bengali literature and I became a member of this scheme. Kumudini ” ( “Yogayog” in Bengali ) is the first novel of Tagore which I read. It is my favourite till today. After this I read “ Geetanjali ”. On my first reading I couldn’t understand it fully. Then I read un-abridged version of his novel “ Gora ”. Again I was unable to understand it in totality. After this I started reading English translation of his short stories, named “ Hungry Stones & Other Stories”. To my astonishment, again I couldn’t understand a word of what he has written, but I couldn’t forget him also. It is paradoxical, but it is true. I was unable to solve this conundrum.

In 1969, when I started learning Bengali, I started pursuing Tagore religiously. One fine morning, while hearing Rabindra Sangeet, I was mesmerised. I started buying cassettes of Rabindra Sangeet and started listening it 24×7. After this when I re-read Geetanjali “, I was in trance. It was a devotee’s prayers and wish lists addressed to the God. The poems haunted me then and they still haunt and enchant me. Motivated by  Geetanjali “, I then started reading and re-reading all the novels, short stories and poems of Tagore. Among his novels, ” Kumudini ” ( Yogayog ) ,  ” Aankh Ki Kirkiri ” ( Chokher Bali), ” Nauka Dubi ” and Nashta Need “ are my favourites.

It is astonishing that Tagore wrote novels, short stories, plays and thousands of songs. He himself set tunes to his songs. It is called Rabindra Sangeet. He painted and is considered today as the father of modern Indian painting. He was the founder of a university  called Shantiniketan. It is amazing that he dabbled in so many fields, and that too so  successfully.

On his 150th birth anniversary I pay tribute to the only poet of India who won Nobel prize for literature.

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