16 June, 2021


Bloodaxe’s edition of the Collected Poems of Arun Kolatkar, edited by Arvind Krishna Mehrotra, reveals how provocative and inventive its bohemianism once was.


Earlier this year, there was an unexpected furore in the pages of the Guardian—of the kind that would probably fail to exercise newspapers in India. A report announced that Gabriel Josipovici, a former Weidenfeld Professor of English at Oxford, had, in his forthcoming book, What Ever Happened to Modernism?, laid into the British writers’ old boys’ club: Amis, Barnes, McEwan, Rushdie. ‘Feted British writers are limited, arrogant and self-satisfied, says leading academic,’ ran the headline. In Britain, self-satisfaction continues to be a cardinal sin, while, in India, it hardly exists at all, because not being aware of something is to annihilate its existence (‘I think, therefore I am’). Josipovici replied that his book was only tangentially about these writers; that the report was mischievous; that far more important questions had been addressed in his short monograph. The upshot was that it got much more attention than it might have otherwise, and its title’s question...

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