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Purabi Banerjee

By K.S. Duggal
Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1979, pp. 252, Rs. 35.00

By Keki N. Daruwalla
Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, 1979, pp. 137, Rs. 25.00

VOLUME III NUMBER 3 November/December 1978

In his preface K.S. Duggal feels that the short story is a product of the twen­tieth century. It was born during the first World War, and ‘the subsequent period of distrust and dislocation of accepted norms of daily life fostered it.’ Rather a nega­tive way of looking at it—surely there were other reasons in the twentieth century which made it favourable for the short story to emerge. The increasing comp­lexity of the pattern of living which made it impossible for one to read long novels, the appearance of periodicals which offered scope to the novelist to write serially to start with and then to the short story writer, there were a number of factors which were responsible for the rise of the short story. So, the credit should not go entirely to the wars. How does one judge a short story? Most readers assess it by the same criteria as a novel, not realizing that it is a differ­ent literary form and should be judged accordingly. If a novel is like a painting, the short story is like a sketch—a few deft strokes and the picture is ready. It is for the reader to fill in the details with his imagination. If the writer succeeds in firing his imagination, he is a good story writer. Does Kartar Singh Duggal succeed in appealing to the reader's imagination? Though a few readers might find him a trifle too earthy and lacking in finesse, some of his stories are rather good. Origi­nally written in Punjabi most of them have not lost their flavour in translation. An Indian writing in English is often faced with a grave problem. He writes about Indians and so he finds it difficult to communicate their experiences, their conversation in a language which they do not speak all the time. The end product is neither here nor there. In Duggal's case, some of the stories do appear a bit wooden in translation, like 'Rickshawala', 'Rain God and the Radio', but there are others which do not seem to have lost any of their pep, or pathos or whatever gives them their poignancy. 'The Night of the Full Moon', 'Lali', 'The Letter Comes', 'The Man in White'­—these are examples of stories in the book which appeal because of their spontaneity. It is mainly the world of the peasant and it is ...

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