This is a dissertation for Ph.D. by Chandra Lata. It is exhaustive and packed with insightful perceptions on five novels globally.
Before I continue, I must admit that I am not an academician, never conducted research at academic level. Therefore, the opinions I expressed in this article should be taken as such: Opinions of a lay person.
The book examines five novels globally: Two Telugu novels, one each of German, Spanish, and Italian. Chandra Lata has done extensive research and produced a plausible work.
I was truly overwhelmed by the enormous data contained in this book. Frankly, not until p.44, where E.M. Forster and Chaucer were mentioned, I started feeling comfortable. The entire terminology was totally new and mind-boggling to me. I do not mean it in the negative sense. It is the nature of academic works. It is just that I am so out of touch with current trends in literature, and much less in English literature.
Having said that, I must say I admire the breadth and width of Chandra Lata’s study.
Of the five novels discussed in this book, I am familiar with only the two Telugu novels. I have read Puppets. I have not read Bungler (Asamarthuni Jeevayatra) but am fairly familiar with the content of it.
To Tell A Tale gives a detailed account of each author’s life and works, a summary of the novel under reference, and goes on to analyse various elements of the corresponding novels. Lengthy quotations from original novels to drive home her point make this book stand out as a separate book on its own, and readable. No need to say the analyses are thorough, insightful and complete from the perspective of the topics the author has chosen for her study.
I am impressed particularly with the histories and backgrounds of the authors and novels in the case of the other three novels, viz., German, Spanish and Italian.
I’ll briefly touch upon the Telugu novel, I am familiar with. Chandra Lata made a strong case for Pullayya’s metamorphosis from an honest and straightforward man to self-implicating liar, a sad denouement. This novel reminded me of Thomas Hardy’s Rise and Fall of the Mayor of Casterbridge. Chandra Lata succeeded in establishing the metamorphosis convincingly.
The German novel captured my attention for one reason–the historical context of the Nazi regime, and the intricate interweaving of the society and politics. Chandra Lata did a wonderful job of putting them in perspective for us. Usually, it is hard to write a political novel and make it acceptable as a literary work. From Chandra Lata’s writing, I understand this novel has achieved that goal.
About the magic realism: I heard the term for the first time while I was translating Astitvanadam aavali teerana by Munipalle Raju. Mr. Raju discussed it in his introduction to his book. He however referred to it as “magical realism.” From the book under reference, it would appear the original term is magic realism.
In his explanation, Raju stated that we do have this element of magic realism in our ancient works like Maha Bharata and Ramayana. I have written an article, elaborating on this view. (See the link at the end)
For that reason, the term caught my attention. Chandra Lata has done a good job of explaining how this magic realism has been used to create public awareness of political challenges in their society. This novel certainly makes a poignant statement.
In all, To Tell A Tale is a comprehensive work, helps us understand the narrative technique, narratology, of novels across the globe. For anyone interested in the technique of writing a novel, this book would be helpful.
On a personal note, this is the first time ever my article has been referred to in a meaningful way in an academic work. Chandra Lata, thank you for finding my views worth mentioning. It certainly felt good.
Copies are available at:
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ISBN No. : 978-81-904838-5-8
Paper Back : Rs. 375 /-
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(published on www.MuseIndia.com in 2015)
(May 3, 2019)