26 July, 2021

The Ritwik Papers

The first translation of Ghatak's stories shows his mastery here as well

The Ritwik Papers
These 17 short stories should in no way be regarded as the minor works of a man posthumously recognised as one of the great names of 20th century world cinema. As Sumanta Banerjee says in his perceptive introduction: "They are works of miniaturist art in their own right—and as deftly-crafted short stories, some of them can easily rival the best in this genre." This is no exaggerated claim. Some of the stories hold their own against masters such as Maupassant and Manto. That many were written when Ritwik Ghatak was less than a quarter century old makes them all the more remarkable.

Of course, Ghatak connoisseurs will find in this collection most of the concerns underlying his films. The Crystal Goblet and The Road are directly linked to Partition, but in most of the stories the theme of loss of roots, separation and death lingers beneath the narrative. Yet if tragedy is one of the keynotes of his oeuvre, so too is a seething anger, a drive to avenge injustice. This is exemplified in The Deposition, A Fairy Tale, Eyes and Comrade. In these we also see what we understand from...

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