Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Light in August by William Faulkner – Mar 27, 2015

First Edition

Faulkner's novel treats many themes of the US South – sex, violence, racism, fanatical religion, and mob-action. Kinder traits are there too, by way of strangers who offer support to a pregnant woman making her way as an outcast in search of the absconding father of her baby.

Zakia, Sunil, Shnaz, Priya, Thommo

One of the less prominent themes is how many of the characters are lonely outsiders, poorly integrated into society, and living out the history of their tortured past.

Shahnaz, Priya, Thommo, KumKum

Faulkner is determined to write about things close to the bone, throwing light (Light in August) on the dark recesses of society in an era when racism was institutionalised, and Emancipation was still a theoretical notion, especially in the states of the Confederacy.

Shahnaz, Priya

Several readers found a resonance between the descriptions of rape in the novel, and the attitudes prevalent in modern India, not just among the lumpen elements (to use a phrase Gopa is fond of). Evil lurks throughout the novel and readers have a sense that nothing good will come of it in the end.

Painting by Willem de Kooning titled 'Light in August'

One of the eloquent statements in the novel stands at the beginning of Chapter 6 when Joe Christmas is a lad of five, yet to undergo his life-changing experiences. Presaging those events the author writes:

Memory believes before knowing remembers. Believes longer than recollects, longer than knowing even wonders. 

Thommo, Priya, KumKum, Pamela, Gopa, Sunil, Joe (Zakia & Shahnaz left early)

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Poetry Reading – Feb 11, 2015

Eight readers covered everything from passionate poems of love (only three days for Valentine's) to simple poems of innocent childhood, and poems of the inspirational type. Exceptional feminist poets like Adrienne Rich were part of the mix.

Sunil, Priya, Pamela, Sheila, Gopa, KumKum, Talitha

Angelou has become the most popular poet, no wonder with so many women in the group. Neruda also. Most were modern or contemporary poets, except for Shakespeare and Nashe.

KumKum, Talitha, Preeti, Sunil, Priya

There is not only variety in the poetry, but an even greater variety in the kinds of things these poets did, from writing plays and political pamphlets to dancing and diplomacy.

Priya, Pamela, Sheila, Gopa, KumKum, Talitha, Preeti

We have not run out of new poets to explore, such as Marge Piercy and Anne Sexton. Here we are, happy as could be, at the end of another reading: 

Sheila, Preeti, Gopa, Priya, KumKum, Talitha, Pamela, Sunil, Joe

Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain — Jan 23, 2015

First Edition, 1884

Hemingway thought that The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was the inauguration of American literature, so highly did he respect the original voice and narrative genius of Mark Twain, displayed in this, his most famous novel.

KumKum, Gopa, Priya

The story is about young Huck Finn escaping the disciplined life of home and the cruelties of his father, to raft down the Mississippi with an escaped slave, Jim, who belonged to his benefactor's sister, Miss Watson. Their adventures on the river are numerous, some hair-raising, many humorous (such as the charlatans who pretend to be King and Duke in order to dupe people at country fairs).

Sunil, KumKum, Gopa

Jim himself provides much entertainment in passages, two of which were read: the 'Sollermun' episode and the Jim's take on good-luck signs. Though he is shown in places as simple-minded and ready to believe in witches, yet Jim has the earthy good-sense of honest working men everywhere. He loves Huck Finn and the love is returned as Huck makes the central decision: whether to turn in Jim as an escaped slave, or let him follow his good-luck to freedom and a family reunion.

A Huck Finn version which removes the N-word

The fun the readers had could be best measured in the laughter ringing out of the CYC library. Adept as KRG readers are to find humour in the darkest of novels by employing side narratives of their own, this novel did not need any external injections of wit whatever. One only had to be open to the abundance of drollery Mark Twain had fashioned, two fathoms deep on every other page.

Here is the group who attended, minus Gopa, Kavita, and Priya who had to leave early. 
Pamela, KumKum, Preeti, Sunil, Joe