Samya presents "Sketches by Hootum the Owl: A Satirist's View of Colonial India" by Kaliprasanna Sinha at Main Building, IIC, Lodhi Estate > 6:30pm on 16th October 2012

Time : 6:30 pm

Entry : Free (Seating on First-Come First-Served basis)
Note : Call 011-24619431 ( IIC ) to re-confirm any last minute change or cancellation of the event.

Place : Seminar Rooms - I & II,  Main Building, India International Centre ( IIC ), 40 Max Muller Marg, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi-110003
Venue Info : Events | About | Map | Nearest Metro Stations - 'Khan Market(Vilolet Line)' & 'Jor Bagh(Yellow Line)'
Area : Lodhi Road Area Events

Event Details : Samya cordially invites you to the launch of our forthcoming publication 'Sketches by Hootum the Owl: A Satirist's View of Colonial India' by Kaliprasanna Sinha.
(an English translation of the original Bengali text, Hootum Pyanchar Naksha, 1861,  on Calcutta, its people and the British) 

Like many elitists, Kaliprasanna Sinha had a true sense of the magic of the street, of the cultish and the transitory, of the low and disgusting, of the scurrilous bat-tala [an amorphous range of street literature] scandal sheets, of the non-verbal, of what Pound calls the ‘barbaric yawp’ . . once looks forward to the world of modernism, especially to the great novels about cities, which increasingly abandon the notions of ‘character’, ‘description’, and ‘subject-matter’, and become predominantly an efflorescence of language, and also back to the world of anonymous observers and actors, the Kalighat patuas [folk painters]
. . . carnival singers. ~From the Foreword by Amit Chaudhuri

Hootum:was all imagery and language, in a way that Sinha’s iconic lampoon on Calcutta (written between 1861and 1868), a city where two civilizations were in confrontation, European and Indian, resonates today. Macaulay, who is known for his arrogant dismissal of non-western knowledge and education (‘a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia’) had introduced the Bengali elite to western education, a policy change recommended in his Minute on Education (1834). As a consequence, Sinha’s generation, well schooled in Sanskrit, Bengali and Persian, had also learnt English and read widely in western literatures.
In the Sketches, Sinha gives form to an anarchy and variety of life that is synonymous with the rise, from the early nineteenth century, of Calcutta as a colonial and global metropolis and offers his devastatingly critical view on the manners and morals of its citizens, cutting across all classes, often depicted in the language of the marginalized. Everything is transient, and surprisingly seems au courant today: confusing, uncertain, alive in a culture of pictures, posters, bulletins, scandals, and fads (what Sinha, in Hutoom, calls hujug).
Sinha may well have been inspired by Charles Dickens’s Sketches by Boz (1836-37), in which the follies and peculiarities of all classes, and of men actually living, are described in racy, vigorous language. In his Sketches, Hootum, who takes on the persona of the satirical owl, the language not only complements the tenor and theme of a colourful, effervescent, intractable city life but also becomes the city; manifest in the raw, unrestrained, compulsive overflow. In tone and temper the writing is more akin to Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy (1761), as indeed it is in terms of structure. Sinha was too much of a snobbish, class-conscious aristocrat to see himself as one of the hoi polloi, but realized that street language was the medium best suited to the tone and tenor of the sketch format. The intoxicating mix of street lingo, Calcutta cockney, risqué expletives, peppered with Sanskrit, Urdu and English makes Hootum’s language an anachronistic milestone in the time of Victorian sensibilities that no one has been able to emulate to the same effect Published in the wake of two significant resistances against the British government, the 1857 Sepoy Mutiny and the indigo revolts of the exploited peasantry in 1859, Sketches operated at many levels; Sinha uses comedy and scatology as agents of subversion. Sketches was, perhaps, the first publishing phenomenon of its time, giving an indication that the clash of two civilizations was to be highly creative, leading to a ‘Renaissance’ of Bengali culture that would dominate India for about two hundred years.
Kalprasanna Sinha, accurately described himself as ‘precocious’. At the time of the publication of the first edition of Hootum Pyanchar Naksha, he was twenty-one and already quite a public figure. Riding the crest of success and fame, he was dead at the age of thirty in 1870.
Chitralekha Basu, editor, writer, literary and film critic is presently with the China Daily.
Amit Chaudhuri is an acclaimed novelist and literary critic; His most recent book is On
Tagore: Reading the Poet Today (Penguin-Viking, 2011). He also teaches Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia.

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Samya presents "Sketches by Hootum the Owl: A Satirist's View of Colonial India" by Kaliprasanna Sinha at Main Building, IIC, Lodhi Estate > 6:30pm on 16th October 2012 Samya presents "Sketches by Hootum the Owl: A Satirist's View of Colonial India" by Kaliprasanna Sinha at Main Building, IIC, Lodhi Estate > 6:30pm on 16th October 2012 Reviewed by DelhiEvents on Tuesday, October 16, 2012 Rating: 5

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