Shri Ashutosh Bhardwaj
Solitude is a state of existence in which a person voluntarily chooses to be alone in order to follow a quest. It is not isolation, loneliness, certainly not escapism or an exilic state. However, the quest of a modern solitary reaper could be fundamentally different from solitude-seekers of previous ages. For many ancient Indian artists and writers it was a space to explore and eventually erase one’s self and realize the higher reality of Tat Twam Asi (That Art Thou). A modern artist withdraws into one’s being often with a desire to assert one’s self. The earlier desire for the dissolution of ego stands replaced by the triumph of ego.
This monograph attempts to trace and analyze the solitude of women characters in selected Indian novels ranging from Umrao Jan Ada(1899) to The God of Small Things (1997). It locates the many shades and forms in which solitudemanifests in their lives and guides their decisions and choices. With a focus on an inner quest, these women characters have used solitary spaces as a means to realise their self and attain their womanhood. However, their solitary journey was never easy. Long before they could come closer to their self,their life was punctuated by scars and wounds, anxieties and regrets, melancholies and sorrows.
People who are privileged to choose a solitary life and make independent decisionsalso owe a greater responsibility for their actstowards others. While it is easy to embrace the rights that come with freedom, not many are able to accept and meet their duties. The negotiationsthese women make with their responsibilities go on to define the text. These novels, thus, can also be read as a space created by their solitary women.
The monographends with the question: Does self-realization or aatm-bodh remain an illusory ideal in modern era, within the pages of a modern form that the novel is?
It is divided into seven chapters:
1. Woman as the Novel
2. The Allure of Death
3. The Political as Personal
4. Wounds that Freedom Begets
5. The Invisible Man
6. An Unnamed Quest
7. The Melody of Melancholy
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