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YESTERDAY AND TODAY
By K.P.S. Menon
Allied Publishers, New Delhi, 1976, 30.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 4 October - December 1976

Oscar Wilde said of Hall Caine that the latter always wrote at the top of his voice. This is a charge which can never be made against K.P.S. Menon. He does not create any problems of decibel tolerance to his readers. His own style of writing is perfectly modulated, controlled and decorous, the naughty bits being introduced in the most dead pan fashion. This latest collection of K.P.S.’s articles leaves the reader grateful that there is someone so civilized, so articulate and so readable still around. Yesterday and Today con­tains several gems of the elegant, deliberately austere style to which we have been accustomed during the last thirty years from K.P.S.’s facile pen. There is always a little nugget of wisdom carefully cocooned in the smooth, civilized prose which is worth searching for. In several of the articles, apparently occasional, there is a toughness beneath the slight lyric grace which is at variance with our general picture of K.P.S. the writer, easy, self­-assured, fluent and carefully avoiding knotty problems and controversies. It is only when we read some of the enormous volumes which have been recently churned out by the Indian publishing industry in the form of memoirs and autobiographical reminiscences by retired civil servants and politicians that one thanks the gods that be for this unique blessing which we have in K.P.S. Menon the writer. There are several of us, civil servants, who can turn a deft phrase or two, draft a rather pungent note on some world-shaking event and, even, when it comes to the crunch, write a memorandum on a complica­ted topic in what, we hope, is fairly transparent language free of jargon. But there is a certain anonymous neutral quality about the best official writing in Indian English which can be a deadening influence over the years, not merely on the writers but the readers also. There are some happy exceptions, it is true, like Ambassador Tyabji whose little known memoir of his brother is a minor classic of its kind in Indo-Anglian Letters and P.L. Bhandari who has carved a special niche for himself in a lighter, anecdotal vein. It is against this rather bleak background that K.P.S.’s genius has flowered. This has nothing to do with his early training in Madras or Oxford or his ...


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