WHAT IS DOGRI LITERATURE?

First mentioned nearly 700 years ago, Dogri is one of the oldest modern languages of India. It is recognised as the ethnic language of the Dogras (an Indo-Aryan ethnolinguistic community that inhabited parts of India and Pakistan). The earliest mention of Dogras can be traced back to the 11th Century A.D Chamba copperplates.

The origin of Dogri Dogri literature began as an oral or folk tradition. Like any kind of folk literature, its diverse themed narratives dealt with mythology, parables, humour, and domestic issues. The first written poem in the language was composed by Devi Ditta (commonly called Dattu) in 1770.

The golden age of Dorgi literature coincides with the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Dev (1733-82). Remembered as one of the most influential rulers of Jammu, his reign was  characterised by a period of affluence and tremendous socio-economic progress in the region. However, the Devanagari script replaced Dogri at the advent of the 20th century.

History of Dogri Literature published by the Sahitya Akademi, elaborates upon how the apathy of the elite and the educated class of Dogras towards their mother tongue is to a great extent responsible for the disappearance of the language from the literary circles and the loss of the original Dorgri manuscripts that might have existed.

Although it is an officially recognised language of India added to the Eighth Schedule of the constitution it is still chiefly spoken only in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir, along with certain parts of Himachal Pradesh, Punjab and northeastern Pakistan.

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WHAT IS FOUND POETRY?

Found poems are simply the literary equivalent of a collage. Created by assembling borrowed text from published newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, letters, speeches, poems, and sometimes even documents like tax forms or medical reports, this poetry recycles words by giving them a new meaning and context.

This mode of writing not only makes poetry accessible but also gives a fresh insight into evocative writing.

The origin story

According to the former U.S. poet laureate Billy Collins, the cento (Latin for patchwork) which belongs to the third Century, may have been the original found poem.

A cento-poet often refashioned lines from the works of various revered writers like Homer and Virgil to create a unique verse. The Greeks and Roman assembled centos to pay homage to the literary idols of the past.

Types of Found Poetry

Found poetry can be further classified into blackout poetry, erasure poetry, and cut-up poetry.

Blackout poetry is created by blacking out or blotting certain lines and phrases of an existing article, short story or poem using a pen or a black marker to reinterpret the original work. Contrary to this, erasure poems are created by erasing, clipping out. or obscuring certain lines or words of a printed text using a light coat of white paint.

Cut-up or Remix poetry is curated by literally cutting out words from source materials and rearranging them to create a unique meaning.

A strong proponent of the cut-up approach, American writer William S. Burroughs once said "All writing is in fact, cut-ups. A collage of words read, heard and overheard. What else?"

Found poetry rose to prominence in the 20th century due to its shared similarities with the pop art of artists like Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp. It combined literature and visual art to represent the plurality of language.

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WHAT IS THE LOST GENERATION IN LITERATURE?

World War I, or the Great War (1914-1918), fractured the American worldview in ways that were beyond imagination. Many young Americans were in a state of shock after having witnessed death and destruction on such an unparalleled scale. The country that they once knew, as a safe haven built on tenets such as patriotism, faith, and morality (prior to the war) had fallen. All that remained was the population that felt lost, hopeless, scattered and at odds with the old norms of the society.

These sentiments pervaded many cultural aspects of change in the 1920s, including literature. Writers could no longer relate to the subject matter or the themes of the texts produced before the war. Although the term Lost Generation' was introduced by Gertrude Stein, a modernist American writer who made Paris her permanent home, it only gained popularity after Emest Hemingway included it in the epigraph of his novel The Sun Also Rises (published in 1926).

As the story goes, Stein came upon the term when an auto mechanic upset with his young employee's unsatisfactory work on her car, referred to the nation's youth as a lost generation, difficult to prepare for work or focus

The Lost Generation, therefore, referred to that group of men and women who came of age during the First World War and felt disillusioned in the unfamiliar post-war world.

In literature, the Lost Generation was a group of American writers, most of whom immigrated to Europe and worked there from the end of World War I until the Great Depression.

A bohemian lifestyle of travel among intellectuals felt more appealing than remaining in a place where virtuous behaviour no longer existed, faith in religion was broken, and a connection to morality was questionable at best. So, the expatriate writers living in Europe wrote about the trials and tribulations of this Lost Generation, while, being a part of it themselves.

The most famous writers of the Lost Generation include Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, Gertrude Stein, and T.S. Eliot.

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WHO INDIAN AUTHOR WON THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE?

Geetanjali Shree has become the first Indian author to win the prestigious International Booker Prize for her "utterly original" Hindi novel "Tomb of Sand", a family saga set in northern India about an 80-year-old woman who travels to Pakistan to confront the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition and re-evaluates what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman and a feminist.

At a ceremony in London on Thursday, the 64-year-old New Delhi-based writer said she was "completely overwhelmed" with the "bolt from the blue" as she accepted her 50,000-pound prize, and shared it with the book's English translator Daisy Rockwell. The prize is split between author and translator equally.

"Tomb of Sand", originally "Ret Samadhi", is set in northern India and follows an 80-year-old woman in a tale the Booker judges dubbed a "joyous cacophony" and an "irresistible novel".

"I never dreamt of the Booker. I never thought I could. What a huge recognition, I'm amazed, delighted, honoured and humbled," said Shree in her acceptance speech. "There is a melancholy satisfaction in the award going to it. 'Ret Samadhi/Tomb of Sand' is an elegy for the world we inhabit, a lasting energy that retains hope in the face of impending doom. The Booker will surely take it to many more people than it would have reached otherwise, that should do the book no harm," she said.

Reflecting upon becoming the first work of fiction in Hindi to make the Booker cut, the author said it felt good to be the means of that happening. "But behind me and this book lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi, and in other South Asian languages. World literature will be richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages. The vocabulary of life will increase from such an interaction," she said.

Rockwell, a painter, writer and translator living in Vermont, US, joined her on stage to receive her award for translating the novel she described as a "love letter to the Hindi language". "Ultimately, we were captivated by the power, the poignancy and the playfulness of ‘Tomb of Sand’, Geetanjali Shree's polyphonic novel of identity and belonging, in Daisy Rockwell's exuberant, coruscating translation," said Frank Wynne, chair of the judging panel.

This is a luminous novel of India and Partition, but one whose spellbinding brio and fierce compassion weaves youth and age, male and female, family and nation into a kaleidoscopic whole," he said.

The book's 80-year-old protagonist, Ma, to her family's consternation, insists on travelling to Pakistan, simultaneously confronting the unresolved trauma of her teenage experiences of Partition, and re-evaluating what it means to be a mother, a daughter, a woman, a feminist.

The Booker jury was impressed that rather than respond to tragedy with seriousness, Shree's playful tone and exuberant wordplay resulted in a book that is "engaging. funny, and utterly original", at the same time as being an urgent and timely protest against the destructive impact of borders and boundaries, whether between religions, countries, or genders.

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Which is the world‘s first novel?

"The Tale of Genji", written by Murasaki Shikibu in the 11th Century, is widely regarded as the world's first novel. Murasaki Shikibu was a Japanese novelist, poet and lady-in-waiting at the Imperial court during the Heian period.. Murasaki Shikibu is a descriptive name; her personal name is unknown, but she may have been Fujiwara no Kaoruko, who was mentioned in a 1007 court diary as an imperial lady-in-waiting.

The tale had an unprecedented global influence. The book is written in a notoriously complex style with frequent poetic ambiguity and over 800 inserted poems, but it was an instant success and quickly gained its reputation as a timeless classic. At its most basic, The Tale of Genji is an absorbing introduction to the culture of the aristocracy in early Heian Japan—its forms of entertainment, its manner of dress, its daily life, and its moral code. The era is exquisitely re-created through the story of Genji, the handsome, sensitive, gifted courtier, an excellent lover and a worthy friend. Most of the story concerns the loves of Genji, and each of the women in his life is vividly delineated. The work shows supreme sensitivity to human emotions and the beauties of nature, but as it proceeds its darkening tone reflects the Buddhist conviction of this world’s transience.

Credit : West Port Library

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