Gandhi, Guha and the Moolah

Contemporary history’s best-known ‘fakir’ has landed his latest biographer the fattest kitty in the annals of Indian publishing. Penguin India has offered an advance of Rs 1 crore to bag historian Ram Guha’s two-volume project on Mahatma Gandhi in a quiet but stunning recession-era deal that has wowed the competition and pitched Indian book industry into the global league.

From here.

Well, what more can one say!


Ulysses and Us

In August 1924, the long-suffering Stanislaus Joyce sent a letter of complaint to his brother, James, in which he mentioned his difficulties with Ulysses. “The greater part of it I like,” he wrote, before adding with characteristic bluntness: “I have no humour with episodes which are deliberately farcical… and as episodes grow longer and longer and you try to tell every damn thing you know about anybody that appears or anything that crops up, my patience oozes out.”

from here

I have been meaning to read Ulysses for quite some time now, so much so that the book has been lying on my bookself for the past year and half, but to be true the only thing that brings my enthusiasm down is that Joyce talks about anything to everything there, and often laced with puns, allusions and hidden meanings, so the fear being that I may not be able to understand and appreciate everything.
Well, let’s see, may be this summer.

Sharmila Tagore on Cannes Jury

Well, there’s the surprise, Sharmila Tagore had been added to be the nine and final member of the Jury that will be deciding winner of the Palme d’Or this year. I do have childhood memories of seeing her in Indian movies, but haven’t seen any of her movie in the recent past. I guess I’ll be watching Satyajit Ray’s Appu soon, where she appears as Apu’s wife.


Kazuo Ishiguro’s Interview

In a candid interview here at The Paris Review, Kazuo Ishiguro talks about his passions, obsessions, music that inspired him, his American dream, his books an all.
Here’s something from the interview.

How did the English setting come about for The Remains of the Day?
It started with a joke that my wife made. There was a journalist coming to interview me for my first novel. And my wife said, Wouldn’t it be funny if this person came in to ask you these serious, solemn questions about your novel and you pretended that you were my butler? We thought this was a very amusing idea. From then on I became obsessed with the butler as a metaphor.
As a metaphor for what?
Two things. One is a certain kind of emotional frostiness. The English butler has to be terribly reserved and not have any personal reaction to anything that happens around him. It seemed to be a good way of getting into not just Englishness but the universal part of us that is afraid of getting involved emotionally. The other is the butler as an emblem of someone who leaves the big political decisions to somebody else. He says, I’m just going to do my best to serve this person, and by proxy I’ll be contributing to society, but I myself will not make the big decisions. Many of us are in that position, whether we live in democracies or not. Most of us aren’t where the big decisions are made. We do our jobs, and we take pride in them, and we hope that our little contribution is going to be used well.

Learning German

This essay: The Awful German Language by Mark Twain throws some light-hearted light upon the difficulties in the language. German language, along with Latin and Russian, is said to be one of the difficult language to master. Since I have already paid my money at the Goethe Center, I guess I will have to live with that and hope that this amusing essay doesn’t becomes too amusing for comfort.
Well, here’s something from the essay:

Now observe the Adjective. Here was a case where simplicity would have been an advantage; therefore, for no other reason, the inventor of this language complicated it all he could. When we wish to speak of our “good friend or friends,” in our enlightened tongue, we stick to the one form and have no trouble or hard feeling about it; but with the German tongue it is different. When a German gets his hands on an adjective, he declines it, and keeps on declining it until the common sense is all declined out of it. It is as bad as Latin. He says, for instance:

    • Nominative — Mein guter Freund, my good friend.
    • Genitive — Meines guten Freundes, of my good friend.
    • Dative — Meinem guten Freund, to my good friend.
    • Accusative — Meinen guten Freund, my good friend.
    • N. — Meine guten Freunde, my good friends.
    • G. — Meiner guten Freunde, of my good friends.
    • D. — Meinen guten Freunden, to my good friends.
    • A. — Meine guten Freunde, my good friends.

Now let the candidate for the asylum try to memorize those variations, and see how soon he will be elected. One might better go without friends in Germany than take all this trouble about them. I have shown what a bother it is to decline a good (male) friend; well this is only a third of the work, for there is a variety of new distortions of the adjective to be learned when the object is feminine, and still another when the object is neuter. Now there are more adjectives in this language than there are black cats in Switzerland, and they must all be as elaborately declined as the examples above suggested. Difficult? — troublesome? — these words cannot describe it. I heard a Californian student in Heidelberg say, in one of his calmest moods, that he would rather decline two drinks than one German adjective.