Thursday, 13 October 2016

Author Quotes: Henning Mankell Quote on How Big is the World...

Sailing Boat, Mozambique

Henning Mankell (1948-2015), the Swedish crime writer, narrated this incident at a literary festival. I happen to have a documented, undated magazine cutting of the same, paraphrased below.  

Mankell was apparently interacting with an audience at Inhaca, Mozambique once. On an unexpected tangent, some curious teenagers, inadvertently infused a twist into the proceedings. It was an inquiry posed with utmost seriousness. Baffling as it may seem, the query was probably more surprising than all the ingenious plot deviations of  any crime thriller: When a boy and girl kiss each other, who is the one that must close their eyes? 

Sometimes a question can glint with a hundred radiant answers. Mankell discovered that kissing played no part in lovemaking on the island. They just didn't know it. All attempts at kissing were an imitation sourced from movies and magazines. There are people in the world that do not know what we do in our part of the world at all. Mankell ended his story with the following quote.   

"Many people say the world of today is so small. I say no.The world of today is really as big as it really is. If you are young today, go out in the world, and search to see how big is the world, not how small is the world. This story I give you as a present." 
-  Henning Mankell

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

Henning Mankell

Monday, 3 October 2016

Poetry Reads: I Like You to be Still by Pablo Neruda

Sometimes, a book finds you. Like it wanted to be found.Pablo Neruda's second collection of poetry lay furtively read and untouched in my bookshelf for over a year. Yesterday night, as if in a haze I picked it up and discovered in euphoric shock what I had missed. Its like I were asleep in my waking hours and suddenly, blessedly discovered vision. For the wavering reader, it is probably better to read less then, but in intense, still fervour.

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair was published when Neruda was all of 19.The Chilean poet wrote in Spanish.I do not know to what degree the English translation mitigates/alters the original.An elusive scent emanates from the words. A rare, elevating feeling for a reader of poetry.

I Like For You To Be Still 
by Pablo Neruda

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not touch you
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
And it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth
As all things are filled with my soul
You emerge from the things
Filled with my soul
You are like my soul
A butterfly of dream
And you are like the word: Melancholy

I like for you to be still
And you seem far away
It sounds as though you are lamenting
A butterfly cooing like a dove
And you hear me from far away
And my voice does not reach you
Let me come to be still in your silence
And let me talk to you with your silence
That is bright as a lamp
Simple, as a ring
You are like the night
With its stillness and constellations
Your silence is that of a star
As remote and candid

I like for you to be still
It is as though you are absent
Distant and full of sorrow
So you would've died
One word then, One smile is enough
And I'm happy;
Happy that it's not true

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Fiction Reads: The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling

Now Chil the Kite brings home the night 
That Mang the Bat sets free - 
The herds are shut in byre and hut 
For loosed till dawn are we.
This is the hour of pride and power, 
Talon and Tush and claw. 
Oh hear the call! - Good Hunting all
That keep the Jungle Law! 
                                                     NIGHT-SONG IN THE JUNGLE

We talk here, oh non-forest folk, of The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling. Apart from the popular stories that feature Mowgli and his jungle friends, it also features other imaginative animal stories.

Even though there is the guise of a novel, the stories in The Jungle Book are singular short stories in their narration, each containing, either at story's start or conclusion - a poem. Kipling’s passion and hold over poetry is in all spark here, he writes with simplicity and playfulness, deft skill in rhyme.The book looks favourably at British colonial rule, the image is predominantly romantic.

Kipling's animals speak in classic English with a scatter of Indian slang. Yet it does not seem odd that the creatures are speaking. There is a Peter Pan kind of timelessness to their talk. Humans linger as a threat, his intrusive danger always lurking. Kipling gets his message across:

The Law of the Jungle, which never orders anything without a reason , forbids every beast  to eat Man except when he is killing to show his children how to kill, and then he must hunt outside the hunting-grounds of his pack or tribe. 

The first story, Mowgli’s Brothers chronicles the induction of a ‘man-cub’ to the wolf pack, introduces his friends Baloo, the jungle law teaching strict, kind bear and Bagheera, the inky-black panther. We are also introduced to the menace of Shere Khan, an able nemesis. The story ends with Mowgli’s decision to leave the wolf pack. Why does he take such a drastic decision? You have to read the book for that.

Kaa’s Hunting is another Mowgli tale that flashbacks to a confrontation between a giant rock python and the wayward Bandar-log: as monkeys are defamed here. Tiger! Tiger! chronicles the final face-off between Mowgli and Shere Khan. The Mowgli stories in the book end there. The Second Jungle Book contains other stories featuring Mowgli and his friends.

Moving on, The White Seal, fabled to be heard from a traveling and truthful sea bird that the narrator nursed to health on a ship, takes a diversion to the snow-frozen Arctic region. A relevant tale on the devastating role humans play in mixing livelihood with killing.

Rikki-Tikki-Tavi is the most celebrated of mongoose vs cobra stories, with a whiff of fairy-tale in its depiction of cobra as a cruel, merciless villain. One story where humans feature prominently as the ones protected by a valiant mongoose.

Toomai of the Elephants tells the tale of a young Indian boy mahout, who gets a rare insight into a secret ritual of elephants. Servants of the Queen serves as a parody of the imperial, all-conquering British army. The comic conversation between the animals is lively, as the night before the big parade, they enumerate their experiences to each other.      

Kipling and Mowgli
Much of Kipling’s writing for the book was sourced from his stay in India. Kipling was born in 1865 in Bombay (presently Mumbai). Mowgli’s character is said to be inspired from Kipling’s isolation when, at the age of three, he and his sister were left by his parents with a couple in England for five years.The author has written bitterly about this five-year period in his autobiography. That Mowgli grows up with wolves, and there is no mention of his parents, except a sentence that he is a woodcutter’s son, seems the outlet of that memory, if not distinctly so.

Kipling returned to India at the age of 17, his experiences resulted in an astounding seven volumes of stories.  The writer had left India in 1889 and moved to London. He traveled extensively during this period, got married and wrote prolifically. The Jungle Book was an outcome of this lush period of youth, change and success.

Watch out for an omnibus edition that contains the duo - The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book.

(Article by Snehith Kumbla)

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Poetry Reads: The Firefly by Ogden Nash

Ahoy, Wolf here.  
It is certainly a surprise of momentous proportion 
that we hadn't yet featured on this blog, 
a poet of Ogden Nash's literary calibre and position. 
After all his poems are witty and funny, 
for Nash (1902 - 1971) had a talent for the humourous, 
a quality often found wanting in numerous. 

The use of rhyme that we attempt here in prose, 
the American poet created in verse. 
He could rhyme any word to another,
as if  words were tickling us to laughter - with a feather.

The following poem is just a sample 
of a prolific poetry collection that can be best described as ample
If you want to read more there is certainly a book that is handy; 
and it is titled - Candy is Dandy

The Firefly
by Ogden Nash

The firefly's flame
Is something for which science has no name
I can think of nothing eerier
Than flying around with an unidentified glow on a
person's posteerier.


(Article by Snehith Kumbla)