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'Who am I': Am I Not A Replica of Joshi

Sanjiv Kumar

By Manohar Shyam Joshi
Vani Publishers, Delhi, 2006, $39.95


The more we conjectured and enquired the more facts and things deserving mention we gathered. But in regard to them it became more and more difficult to distinguish between truths and falsehood. Were they lies that looked like the truth Or were they truths that resembled lies Or were they both truth and lies Were they unbiased supporters for whom nothing is true Or was nothing a lie to them If not taking sides means indecisiveness, then could we express surprise at the story, Hariya Hercules Bewilderment. At the corner paanwalas store at night the lies of the supporters clashed and to accept one them as a truth forever became impossible because democracy had gathered strength amongst us.   The courage that is displayed in Manohar Shyam Joshis novels to turn theaxis of narration in Hindi literature or to do away with an axis altogether is not to be found anywhere else. For this reason he stands out in the 125 year old tradition of the Hindi novel. The writer of these lines, in his essay, Who doesnt like the novelist Joshi had stated how Joshi had done away with the reliable method of deploying a narrator and written novel where the credibility of situations is destroyed by the narrator. At least the structure of Hariya Hercules ki Hairani, Hamzad and Kyaap, these being the finest examples of storytelling, is such that these novels make their own stories mysterious and what results finally cannot be called a story but a story about the making of stories. These novels are not about what was or what happened, in fact they break such narrative modes and instead tell us that something did indeed happen, but to arrive at it is impossible. What we can arrive at is not the original incident, but representations and explanations, which are its textual variants.   The writer of these lines arrived at the conclusion that as a storyteller Joshi must have been attracted to the Bhawal Sanyasi Case because it offered the possibility of completely losing narrative credibility. The Bhawal Sanyasi Case was the much discussed case towards the beginning of the twentieth century that lasted for about twenty years. It was related to the inheritance of the Bhawal Kingdom of Bengal (now Bangladesh). In 1909, one of the three heirs of this kingdom died under mysterious circumstances in Darjeeling. Rumour started to spread amongst people that he was not ...

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