Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-848d4c4894-m9kch Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-05-25T02:24:24.807Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

Introduction: Reading the Fiji Hindi Demotic

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  13 April 2024

Vijay Mishra
Affiliation:
Murdoch University, Western Australia
Get access

Summary

One day in 2001, John O’ Carroll, then a lecturer at the University of the South Pacific, sent me a book with a note, ‘Someone sent me this book to review but I can't read a word of it. Could you please have a look at it?’ The book was Subramani's Ḍaukā Purān. I had read all the great works of literature, was moved by them, couldn't put down Don Quixote, The Brothers Karamazov, or James Joyce's Ulysses or the seven-volume Princeton translation of the Vālmīki Rāmāyaṇa. But occasionally one came across a text that moved you in a different way, a text that made you feel that you were not just reading it but ‘speaking’ and ‘writing’ it as if it were reading you. One such text was V. S. Naipaul's extraordinary A House for Mr Biswas. John O’Carroll's request posed a different kind of challenge as the book was written in a language that triggered a kind of return of the repressed: after all, it was in my mother tongue, a language that was my own secret and which I had never used in an academic discourse. But what an experience its reading was! I read the book over two or three days. I was in a daze for this was a great book, the kind of book that I would quite unabashedly place alongside the very best in the world. I had read much and had been moved by books. But this book hit me in a way so different from anything else. I don't know when I felt that Subramani was writing this book or when I was acting as the amanuensis to his voice. The book was followed by the equally magnificent Fījī Māṁ (Fiji Maa) some 18 years later. These two books have placed Subramani in the pantheon of great writers of world literature. The achievement is extraordinary, magnificent, formidable, even inimitable. They are the absolute, the defining, the definitive texts of the subaltern. Writers and critics had commented on sundry subaltern writing: how these works signified the silent underside of a national literary project, the latter invariably written in a borrowed European language (principally English and French, occasionally in Spanish and Portuguese) or in a dominant vernacular such as Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil or Arabic.

Type
Chapter
Information
Publisher: Anthem Press
Print publication year: 2024

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×