26 November, 2020

The Prose And The Cons

Essays from a motley crew of luminaries: dated, Yank-oriented, but totally irresistible

The Prose And The Cons
IN 1940, with Hitler in mind, Orwell wrote an essay called England, Your England. It began: "As I write, highly civilised human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me." Later, with larger bombs looming, E.M. Forster delivered a lecture: "Nuclear missiles are not in my line. Unfortunately, I am in theirs." In 1998, looking at an unpleasantly frontal view of India's arsenal, Arundhati Roy writes: "I'm going to step out of the fairy lights.... If protesting against having a nuclear bomb implanted in my brain is anti-Hindu and anti-national, then I secede."

Roy's essay is not titled India, Your India, but it could have been. It continues the Orwellian tradition of Literary-Left protest against weaponry, war-mongering and the majoritarian lunacies of muscular politics. "One cannot see the modern world as it is unless one recognises the overwhelming strength of patriotism and national loyalty," said Orwell, even as he demolished the chauvinism and xenophobia fig-leaved by nationalism. Roy's impassioned polemic performs the same hatchet job on India's ruling mob...



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