Kunapipi 14 (3) 1992 Full Version

Kunapipi, Jun 2015

Rutherford, Anna

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Kunapipi 14 (3) 1992 Full Version

Kunapipi 0106-5734 Anna Rutherford 0 Recommended Citation 0 Univeristy of Aarhus , Denmark - Kunapipi is a tri-annual arts magazine with special but not exclusive emphasis on the new literatures written in English. It aims to fulfil the requirements T.S. Eliot believed a journal should have: to introduce the work of new or little known writers of talent, to provide critical evaluation of the work of living authors, both famous and unknown, and to be truly international. It publishes creative material and criticism. Articles and reviews on related historical and sociological topics plus film will also be included as well as graphics and photographs. The editor invites creative and scholarly contributions. Manuscripts should be double-spaced with footnotes gathered at the end, should con­ form to the MHRA (Modern Humanities Research Association) Style Sheet. Wherever possible the submission should be on disc (software preferably WordPerfect or Macwrite) and should be accompanied by a hard copy. All correspondence- manuscripts, books for review, inquiries- should be sent to: Anna Rutherford Editor- KUNAPIPI Department of English University of Aarhus 8000 Aarhus C Denmark NEW SUBSCRIPTION RATES FROM 1993: Individuals: 1 year: 3 years: Dkr150 I £15 I US$35 I AUS$45 I CAN$45 Dkr400 I £40 I US$90 I AUS$120 I CAN$120 Institutions: 1 year: Dkr300 I £30 I US$60 I AUS$90 I CAN$90 Please note that if payment is made in other than the above currencies or by Eurocheque, the equivalent of £5 must be added to cover banking costs. Copyright© 1992 by KUNAPIPI This book is copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study, research, criticism or review as permitted under the Copyright Act no part may be reproduced without written permission. Enquiries should be made to the editor. VOLUME XIV NUMBER 3, 1992 Acknowledgements Kunapipi is published with assistance from the Literature Board of the Australia Council, the Federal Government's arts funding and advisory body, and the European branch of the Association for Commonwealth Lit­ erature and Language Studies. We are grateful to the Commonwealth Foundation for its support in pr()­ viding subscriptions to Kunapipi for Third World countries. The Commonwealth Foundation We wish to thank Thomas Yoseloff for permission to reprint the wood cut which appeared in The Voyage of the Bounty Launch, edited by Owen Rutter and first printed by Golden Cockerell Press in 1934. COVER: Wood cut by Robert Gibbings. Kunapipi refers to the Australian Aboriginal myth of the Rainbow Serpent which is the symbol both of creativity and regeneration. The journaft emblem is to be found on an Aboriginal shield from the Roper River al'l!l of the Northern Territory in Australia. FICfiON Jtme Downing, 'The Cup' Ksmchan11 Ugbabe, 'The White Rooster' POETRY Umdeg White, Excerpts from Bounty: 'rhe Hearing' 'The First Man' Stephen Gray, 'The Anna Mary Letters' Paul Hetherington , 'A Deep Verandah' 'Argument' 'Muddling Bill' 'Mannalade' MArk Milhemoff, 'Fictional Streets' 'Seaforth' 'Ropes' Gtoff Goodfellow, 'Crossover' ARTICLES fdm Stephen Martin, 'Henry Adams Meets Robert Louis Stevenson: Ambiguous Perceptions of the South Seas' mku li1rbi Korang, 'Ama Ata Aidoo's Voyage Out: Mapping the Coordinates of Modernity and African Selfhood in Our Sister Killjoy' Drlvid Leahy, 'Running in the Family, Volkswagen Blues and Heroine: Three Post/Colonial Post-Modernist Quests?' Clrol Sicherman, "'Transport Me ... into the Hearts of Men": Bharati Mukherjee's Darkness' INTERVIEW Geoff Goodfellow Interviewed by Gordon Collier and Geoffrey Davis 20 62 Landeg White I THE HEARING The case is Christian's mutiny. But your court Won't stomach that Christian. It smells of Mercy. This tale's awash like the Bounty's Bilge with meanings no one wants. Ay, it was Christian's mutiny. We were all there, you All saw, Adams, black Matthew, gunner Mills, By Christ, Adam's mutiny! Jack Adams, John Doe, Every-man-Jack's mutiny! But your Lords Need a hanging, not this tale rippling Irishly like a stone in a green lagoon. I remember the white untidy beach, my head A washed up coconut jumping with sandflies. If my fiddle were jailed and not fa thorn Five in the Barrier Reef singing to catfish. I'd strike up a jig the court martial Would dance to! Michael Byrne, Irish fiddler, Two thirds blind, on trial for my life. I kissed that maid and went away, Says she, Young man, why don't ye stay George Stewart, midshipman. That's a truly Life matter! Gentle George, drowned in leg-irons In a panic of keys while your Captain Edwards Jumps ship as light and easy as he's danced From your court. Tacks his ship on the coral? Huzzah! Drowns his shipmates? Well away! And George's bounty, sweet brown Peggy, who Ever chose a better wife in the South Seas Or England? Crouched on the poop by the cage Keening and I could smell the blood, George Heaving at his chains yelling she was bloodying The baby and us cursing double Edwards She was after carving open her scalp With a shark's tooth. All dark his hair, all dim his eye, I knew that he had said goodbye. I'll cut my breasts until they bleed. His form had gone in the green weed. Did she see her midshipman Dead in Edward's box on Great Barrier Reef? A life matter truly! And now I recall The oath he swore her in Matavai bay He'd never again set foot in muddy England with its watery sun and broomsticks. That sweet sundown with the wind offshore Drunk with blossoms no white man had named, He held up his left arm to my better eye And I squinted at a heart with a dart Through it and a black star. "What's this?" I warbles, and he says "tattoo." Took him All day and hurt like blazes. But permanent. One of their words, tattoo. Strange how we Needed their lingo to make a landfall. English boy, please tell to me What is the custom in your country? The new Cythera. Two volcanic breasts And a fern-lined valley. Half a degree Leeward, you'd miss it. I'll say this for Bligh, In the whole South Seas he'd smell out one Breadfruit tree on a rock. But Tahiti Scuttled us. There were oceans we couldn't Sail and that island named them: taboo. Another locution we harboured. We're All marked with Tahiti, hearts and stars And commemorations. You, Millward, is it God's truth you've Tahiti's chart on your yard And testicles? Morrison, scratching your Journal of excuses, is your loving groin Gartered with Honi soit qui mal y pense? How d'you hope to escape hanging after Pledges like that? Leave Bligh out of it, Truly the only blind man in Tahiti, A poor fool with his rules and longitudes While Michael Byrne, fiddler, kept watch. Taboo: Christian's mutiny. Ten of us Of twenty-five still waiting to be hung. King Louis had a prison, He called it his Bastille, One day the people tore it down And made King Louis kneel. U THE FIRST MAN the fifth Age when cunning gave birth to mockery. First JOHN STEPHEN MARTIN Henry Adams Meets Robert Louis Stevenson: Ambiguous Perceptions o f the South Seas There is little scribal literature in nineteenth-century Polynesia, since those societies were 'oral'. There were only a few literary travellers from the West to this part of the world, and few who attempted to record the liter­ ature. Virtually all that is 'literate' about the South Seas of that time are the visions by Europeans expressing their own ambiguous approaches to an Otherness which challenged Western life. This paper is a short study of two literary travellers who did observe the societies of the South Seas and recorded some of the literatures, but at the same time persisted in making these observations merely a reflection of their own interests. Robert Louis Stevenson had come to the South Seas in 1888 because of respiratory problems. Sent by the New York Sun to write a series of travel letters of the region, Stevenson intended to return in 1889, but became convinced that he needed the tropics to survive. The letters - later collected under the title, In the South Seas - were full of history, geology, anthropology, oral legends, and notices of language, gathered during two of the three voyages Stevenson made. Coming first from Hawaii to Tahiti, Stevenson translated some Tahitian literature, but also worked on The Master of Ballantrae and 'Ticonderoga', works in his earlier mode that had given him his reputation. At the same time, meeting Prince Ori-a-Ori of the Tahitian royal family, Stevenson became his brother by exchanging names with him, taking Ori's longer name Teriitera.1 Early in 1889, Stevenson, accompanied by his wife Fanny, began a sec­ ond voyage to some remote islands not previously visited or written about by other Europeans. These islands included the Gilberts where drunken natives threatened them until the King, a whimsical tyrant, protected them, and thereby induced Stevenson's admiration? In December, 1889, the Stevensons landed at Apia, Samoa, and Stevenson purchased a four hundred acre estate- Vailima - three miles from Apia, intending to become a plantation lord.3 He left Samoa afterwards only once for short visits to Australia and Hawaii before he died in December, 1894. His life at Samoa was curious. On the one hand, he spoke against the semi-slave labour system used by American and European plantation and trade groups, and was subjected to attacks from those groups in the local papers. He began to record the history of colonialism, and supported the native king against the foreign powers. When the natives revolted, Steven­ son allowed them to use his home as sanctuary and when they were de­ feated, he intervened to safeguard them from wholesale execution. Steven­ son also took some ostentatious delight in aiding native prisoners, seem­ ingly to rebuke the local colonials from the Western world.4 Interestingly, however, Stevenson wrote in his story entitled 'Mackintosh' of a Samoan who murders his white lord who has forced the Polynesians to build roads; the story possibly reflects the fact that Stevenson himself boasted, somewhat as a 'Lord', of his role in getting the local chieftains to build roads.5 As for Fanny, she too experienced a division of soul. While she enjoyed the islands as a visitor, it was quite something else to consider settling there for her husband's health. Doubts about getting on with the natives may have led to Fanny's mental break-down in 1893, which in Stevenson's description appears to be a case of manic-depression.6 Reflecting these ambiguous facts, Stevenson's travel book In the South Sells marks a transition in his work. In it, Stevenson tells tales and stories similar to Herman Melville's portrayal of the rituals of cannibalism, tattoo­ ing, and feasting found in the novel Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life. Unlike Melville, however, Stevenson dwelled with some relish on these activities. In his 1890 edition of Ballads, Stevenson relates some of the Polynesian tales he has heard, based on histories of murder and revenge, but he could not sustain a narrative line and their plots, seemingly mythic in the tradi­ tion of oral literatures, remain elusive to Western audiences? However, the presence of Otherness in these stories influenced his themes in his three novels about the South Seas - The Wrecker, The Ebb Tide, and The Beach of Falesti. In these works, Stevenson fully undermined the Western idea of the South Seas as an Eden, a paradise of free love, and the home of 'the noble savage'. Instead, Stevenson's stories examine the Mr. Hyde-like invigoration of Westerners in response to evil in a world of moral ennui. For example, in the novel The £bb-Tide (1893), three impoverished Western outcasts from Tahiti seek to murder an English gentleman named Attwater, who has become rich through pearl fishing and controls his pri­ vate island. Being outcasts, they seek to murder Attwater for his wealth. However, Attwater shows himself to be a tyrant who is utterly ruthless because he is secure in his beliefs as a Christian evangelist and Victorian moralist. One of the outcasts, an exiled Englishman who understands the mde of the gentleman, is urged to poison Attwater. This places him in a dilemma. Not killing Attwater would mean siding with Attwater's civil­ ized tyranny. Killing him would place him as a renegade pirate. The man must make a decision in a universe which has no clear moral divisions. lndeed, all the men must make a similar decision, and the story ends with 'the ebb-tide' of each of the outcasts being discontented with any and all choices. Here Stevenson depicted how the moral and social problems of the West have destroyed the very paradise of freedom sought. Curiously, despite such a transformation in his thought, Stevenson's life in Samoa was interpreted in the fin-de-siecle West simply as an idyllic escape. Indeed, his hermitage at Samoa was an inspiration for the Amer­ ican historian Henry Adams, who, along with the painter John La Farge, was setting out in July, 1890, on his own voyage through Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Australia and Ceylon: 'I expect to be a pirate in the South Seas ... imitating Robert Louis Sterhenson [sic] .... Civilisation becomes an intolerable bore at moments...' Adams also expressed a wish to meet Stevenson, and he did, in mid­ October, 1890. Adams, a satirist of great power, parodied Stevenson as the restless European, weak and complaining, clearly an outsider and full of contradictions evident to others if not himself. Stevenson reportedly praised Samoan life except when he tried to account for his lingering dis­ contents, in which case he praised Tahiti as a greener pasture. Adams attributed Stevenson's nervous restlessness to his disease, but he also, with some sympathy, questioned his sanity: 'he cannot be quiet, but sits down, jumps up, darts off and flies back, at every sentence he utters, and eyes and features gleam with a hectic glow...'9 However, more generally, Adams was satiric and never grasped the transformation of spirit that Stevenson was experiencing. Rather, he typified Stevenson as a Westerner 'gone bush', and thus similar to a madman. Adams wrote to John Hay of Stevenson after having met him and then having gone on to Tahiti: Of all the Scotch lunatics who have helped to distort and mislead my mind since the reign of Lady Macbeth, I believe Robert Louis Stevenson to be the daftest.... He gave us an idea of Talti that Paradise could not satisfy. All the men were Apollos; all the women were, if not chaste, at least in other respects divine. He detested Samoa and the Samoans, but adored Talti and Tailians; though, to do him justice, he always excepted Papeete which he recognised as a hole. I have now seen all of Taili that he ever saw.... The result has been one consecutive disappointment which would have been quite unnecessary had Stevenson been only idiotic.10 However, this same letter revea ls an ambiguity of attitudes present in Adams. I laving first run down Tahiti, Adams himself then eulogized it for its surreal qualities, especially in the singling out of the colour purple, the chosen colour of the melancholic fin -de-siecle to be found in the paintings of Paul Gaugin: The landscape is lovelier than any well-regulated soaker of Absynthe could require to dream in; but it is the loveliness of an ame perdue. In Talti, the sense of the real always shocks me; but the unreal is divine. I can see nothing here but what is tinged with violet or purple, always faintly or positively melancholy; yet the melan­ choly glows like sapphires and opals.11 Stevenson's beliefs and behaviour reflected much of Adams's soul. Adams was very Bostonian in attacking Stevenson for his lack of Western decorum and apparent uncleanliness. He socialized with the American consul in Samoa and joked about Stevenson's behaviour, noting how Stevenson often deferred social engagements because of his Jack of dress. Ignoring Stevenson's real poverty, Adams portrayed him and his wife as true 'gone bush' Westerners who no longer knew how to present them­ selves to their fellows. In the same letter to Elizabeth Cameron cited before, Adams played upon the American view of the poor Irish. Stephen­ son's home was said to be in a clearing dotted with burned stumps exactly like a clearing in our backwoods. In the middle stood a two-story Irish shanty with steps outside to the upper floor, and a galvanized iron roof. A pervasive atmosphere of dirt seemed to hang around it; and squalor like a railroad navvy's board hut. Adame; went on to fix his first impression of Stevenson and his wife for­ ever in his mind: As we reached the steps a figure came out that I cannot do justice to. Imagine a man so thin and emaciated that he looked like a bundle of sticks in a bag, with a head and eyes morbidly intelligent and restless. He was costumed in very dirty striped cotton pyjamas, the baggy legs tucked into coarse knit woollen stockings, one of which was bright brown in color, the other a purplish dark tone. With him was a woman who retired for a moment into the house to reappear a moment after­ wards, probably in some change of costume, but, as far as I could see, the change could have consisted only in putting shoes on her bare feet. She wore the usually missionary nightgown which was no cleaner than her husband's shirt and drawers, but she omitted the stockings. Her complexion and eyes were dark and strong, like a half-breed Mexican.12 Describing the same meeting to John Hay, Adams altered his metaphor from 'shanty Irish' to 'birds', and wrote: Stevenson and his wife were perched - like queer birds - mighty queer ones too. Stevenson has cut some of his hair; if he had not, I think he would have been positively alarming. He seems never to rest, but perches like a parrot on every available projection, jumping from one to another, and talking incessantly. The parrot was very dirty and ill-clothed as we saw him, being perhaps caught un­ awares, and the female was in rather worse trim than the male.13 Adams recalled these depictions when speaking of yet another visit: We found Stevenson and his wife just as they had appeared at our first call, except that Mrs Stevenson did not now think herself obliged to put on slippers, and her night-gown costume had apparently not been washed since our visit. Stevenson himself wore still a brown knit woollen sock on one foot, and a greyish purple sock on the other, much wanting in heels, so that I speculated half my time whether it was the same old socks, or the corresponding alternates, and concluded that he must have worn them ever since we first saw him. They were evidently his slippers for home wear.14 Stevenson was apparently unaware of these views, and was himself civil and complimentary. Writing to Sidney Colvin, his editor, Stevenson said: 'when Adams and Lafarge [sic] go ..., it will be a great blow. I am getting spoiled with all this good society.'15 And to their mutual friend, Henry James, Stevenson wrote: 'We have had enlightened society: Lafarge the painter, and your friend Henry Adams: a great privilege- would it might endure.'16 Despite his Bostonian attitudes that precluded an understanding of Stevenson's new material on the South Seas, Adams was personally at­ tracted to Stevenson, and often was ambiguous in the same paragraph, as when writing to John Hay: Stevenson absolutely loves dirty vessels and suffocating cabins filled with mildew and cockroaches; he has gone off to Sydney chiefly, I think, to get some more sea dirt on, the land-dirt having become monotonous. By the bye, for our eternal souls' sake, don't repeat what I say of the Stevensons, for he has been extremely and voluntarily obliging to us. I have none but the friendliest feelings for him, and would not for the world annoy him by ill-natured remarks; yet he is dirtyY Stevenson, it seems, was Adams' model of the perfect social renegade­ the man who escaped the oppressive parameters of Western middle-class society. However, Stevenson was also Adams' model of the outsider- the man who both sensed and represented the Otherness of life for the literate Westerner of the day. This recognition brought Adams and La Farge to sympathize with Fanny, whom Adams earlier likened to a 'wild Apache' and an 'Apache squaw'. 18 'Both La Farge and I came round to a sort of lik­ ing for Mrs Stevenson, who is more human than her husband. Stevenson is an ailu, - uncanny...'19 To John Hay, Adams defined ailu, or aiku, as a Samoan ghost, spirit, or demon in the Greek sense. The islands swarm with ai'ku, sometimes friendly, as of dead parents or children; sometimes hostile, as of tempters; occasionally verging on fetishes or symbols like the rainbow, or certain rocks; but at bottom simply uncanny. This is the note of Stevenson, although to us he has been human, not to say genial.20 Speaking of one evening that was 'wet and gloomy', Adams related to John Hay a moment of Stevenson's ai1u, what might well have been the basis of Stevenson's novel, The Ebb-Tide: I shall never forget the dirty cotton bag with its sense of skeleton within, and tbe long, hectic face with its flashing dark eyes, flying about on its high verandah, and telling us of strange men and scenes in oceans and islands where no sane traveller would consent to be dragged unless to be eaten.21 The point is that the ambiguity that Adams found fertile for his parody of 'the bushed Westerner' was present in his own beliefs and underlay his voyage, as he constantly revealed his own dis-ease. For example, when mentioning to John Hay that he was impressed with Stevenson's energy and sense of the uncanny, he would slip in his own complaints: My dyspepsia here is greatly modified by a counter-diet of mangoes.... Stevenson is the only man whose energy resists the atmosphere, and Stevenson owes it to his want of flesh to perspire with. La Farge usually announces his arrival in one of the happy phrases which are La Farge's exclusive property: 'Here comes the aiku/'22 In sum, the parody of Stevenson's Otherness allowed Adams to acknow­ ledge tangentially his own struggle with an enervating dyspepsia and his ceaseless case of Western 'nerves'.23 Adams had initially spoken of his voyage as a happy, even sexual, quest for the 'old-gold maiads in Nukuheva' -the Marquesian isle of Melville's mythic Typee natives.24 The truth was that Adams was deeply disturbed by the inexplicable suicide of his wife in 1885 and the deaths of his own father and mother in 1888 and 1889 -deaths which signalled the end of his eighteenth-century convictions about his place in life. After his return to the United States, Adams would express his bewilderment about life in his celebrated The Education of Henry Adams (1907), which focused on living in a modern, technological society with values that have more in common with the eighteenth century. Adams's voyage was to have been an escape from his old life as the author of a monumental nine-volume History of the United States during the Administrations oflefferson and Madison (1889-1891). In fact, the only things that he found of interest in Stevenson were observations he could relate to his Western concepts of the evolution of nations. His letters were ob­ sessed with questions about the place of the Polynesians in the history of the world. Were the Samoans more advanced culturally than the Tahitians or Fijians? What was the meaning of 'culture'? What was the relative status of each of these people on the cycle of history exemplified by the rise and possible fall of the United States and the previous republics of the West? What were the motive forces of history? Adams acknowledged Stevenson's intimate knowledge of the South Seas.25 On the other hand, when Adams learned that Stevenson's travel letters were being published in the New York Sun, he wrote: 'I am curious to see his letters in the Sun. I never met a man with less judgment, and on venture I would damn in advance any opinion he should express, but he is excessively intelligent...'26 From the few citations presented here, it is evident that the bulk of their conversations dealt with the relative status of the Polynesian nations, and the two men disagreed and sought to articulate those differences.27 Adams wanted to rank the peoples according to their morals, such as family life, warfare, and relation between the sexes. It was a Victorian frame of ideo­ logy: if the morals of these people resembled those of Westerners because of colonial influences, they were to be considered decadent, on the down­ ward course. All this was complicated for Adams by the fact that the Fiji­ ans still practised the clubbing of their women; ironically, if Fijians were considered to be a race yet to evolve, they had already passed be/'ond an heroic age since they lacked any evident poetry, oral or written.2 In con­ trast, the Tahitians, who inducted Adams into brotherhood (as they had earlier done with Stevenson),29 had an oral history (which Adams himself recorded),30 and should have been in their formative stage; however, for Adams, Tahitian history was 'sad' and 'melancholic' because of European domination, and deserving of the colour purple with its fin-de-siecle over­ tones?1 In contrast, Stevenson saw the people of Polynesia less ideologically and more ambiguously. In his travel book In the South Seas, Polynesians were an indigenous race- with a development distinct from the West, including the matters of morals. Their history of cannibalism and practices of tattoo­ ing were aiku -u ncanny matters of an Other world- only to the Western mind. However, unable to find a thread in such matters, Stevenson trans­ formed their Otherness into an image of what could threaten a Westerner who was not able to believe any longer in the morals and values of his heritage. This was the thrust of the novel The Ebb-Tide. The lives of these two men summarize two Western perceptions, neither adequate, of the islands: a pristine Paradise, about to be lost to Western consciousness as the price of 'progress', and a landscape of emptiness asking to be 'filled in' and rendered 'meaningful' by Western beliefs. Superficially, these two men seemed totally different - Stevenson the apparent renegade, Adams a somewhat fastidious Bostonian. However, both were belated romantics. To the romantic, the world was an Other. To the belated romantic, one's self was an Other that continually surprised one's conventional self, denied one belief in traditional values, and chal­ lenged one to partake of the Other even at the cost of one's presumed self. NOTES Stephen Gray THE ANNA MARY LETTERS To Hans Christian Andersen Ulva Cottage Hamilton Scotland 1 Jan. 1869 Dear Mr Andersen, My name is Anna Mary, Last-borne of Mary my mother, deceased Of the desert fever while I was but a 'wee bairn'; I am but ten, too young to remember her voice. I do like your fairy tales so much - the tin soldier and the ugly, Ugly duckling. I would like to go and visit you; When Papa comes home from Africa I intend To ask him to take me. I live where he began As a piecer of cotton, threading those bales... Long enough to join us over six thousand miles; What with the water-thrust and water-damp The Clyde is perfect for the manufacture of cloth; Without cotton my dolly'd have no clothes. I'm sure he will agree. In the New Year. II 17 June 1871 Four of his children in this cottage on the Clyde; good and damp Enough to drive the cotton, even if it's not Victoria Falls. I send you the photo of my Papa and me: His arm is about me and mine about my dolly. I would like you to notice my hoop-skirt and pantaloons, But not my face and hair scooped away, ugly still; Papa draws back breath and calls me 'sprightly' now; If you ask me he's forgotten the meaning of his own hearth; He says we're sickly and weak, bad seed, But he's the one won't kiss for bad teeth, rotten tongue; He was born here, he should know; we were born In the wildest desert so generous, where a man may breathe indeed. David Leahy 30. See Jean-Claude Lauzon's recent film, Uo/o, for a variation on this lament for an un­ achieved nation, in which Pierre Bourgault, formerly one of Quebec's most militant nationalist leaders, plays an ambiguous, spectral keeper of a strange baroque museum of quebecois cultural artifacts. Leo, the precocious protagonist, who would prefer to be identified as an Italian (Leolo), has no worthy male figure to emulate within his dysfunctional family and eventually succumbs to the ingrown madness inherited from his grandfather. Directions For writing. Set forth for the benefit of poore Schollers, where the Master hath not time to From a 1656 writing book. 'Transport Me ... into the Hearts of Men': Bharati Mukherjee's Darkness CAROL SICHERMAN 'Transport M e ... into the Hearts o f Men': Bharati Mukherjee's Darkness In the miniature painting described by Bharati Mukherjee in 'Courtly Vision', the final story of Darkness, we see an emblem of Mukherjee's own art,1 an example of intertextuality in which the description of a painting becomes a text that provides the entire book 'with a means of interpreting it and of justifying its formal and semantic peculiarities'? Mukherjee's anonymous painter depicts 'Count Barthelmy, an adventurer from beyond frozen oceans', admiring 'a likeness of the Begum, painted on a grain of rice by Basawan, the prized court artist' (p. 195); at the end of the story, the Emperor Akbar - third and most notable of the six great Mughal emperors- cries out: 'You, Basawan, who can paint my Begum on a grain of rice, see what you can do with the infinite vistas the size of my opened hand... Transport me ... into the hearts of men' (p. 199). As he leads his army out of the capital, Akbar wishes not merely to travel to meet the enemy but to engage in a more thrilling kind of travel, a voyage of the mind and heart. He wants to be transported. In this kind of 'transport', a spiritual and intellectual ecstasy, individual identity is expanded, translated, so that multiple identities coexist in a single consciousness. Mukherjee is herself a 'translated' person, in the root sense (borne across) noted by Salman Rushdie? and Mukherjee's fiction translates Indian and Western cultures into one another. As Rushdie says, while 'it is normally supposed that something always gets lost in transla­ tion ... something can also be gained';4 rootlessness 'can lead to a kind of multiple rooting'.5 This may be a peculiarly Indian concept: for Mukherjee and Rushdie, the 'translated' person experiences loss and gain, not one or the other, as Shiva is male and female, not one or the other.6 Such a person does not have a single identity but, instead, 'a set of fluid identities' (Dark­ ness, 'Introduction', p. 3). In her introduction to Darkness, Mukherjee charts her path from a V.S. :-Jaipaul-style 'expatriate' living in Canada and describing her characters' pain with 'mordant and self-protective irony' to its opposite - an assimil­ ated, Henry Roth-style 'American writer' of tolerant insight into an extra­ ordinary range of characters (pp. 2-3).7 Like her character Dr. Manny Patel, a psychiatrist at Creedmore State Mental Hospital, she 'is not one for nostalgia ... not an expatriate but a patriot' (p. 98) who has accepted the 84 --------------------------------------------task of defining the term 'American', welcoming assimilation as something 'genetic' rather than 'hyphenated' or 'hybrid'/ abandoning her earlier irony because it was 'the privilege of observers and of affluent societies'.9 'Chameleon-skinned,' Mukherjee now enters 'lives ... that are manifestllo not my own ... across the country, and up and down the social ladder'. 0 The final stage of Mukherjee's transformation from 'expatriate' to 'im­ migrant' - an immigrant whose 'roots are here' in the United States11 took place while she was writing her section of Days and Nights in Calcutta, a nonfiction account published in 1977 of a year spent in Calcutta with her Canadian-American husband, Clark Blaise, and their two sons. Although in May 1979 she still referred to herself as an 'expatriate writer'/2 she had shifted to the term 'immigrant writer' by 1981, when she said she was 'still hoping to write the great Canadian novel'.13 That hope was destroyed by her increasingly bitter perception of Canadian racism, described in her controversial article 'An Invisible Woman',14 and her liberating immigra­ tion to the United States. That immigration resulted in Darkness, in which for the first time she achieved her ambition to 'break out of mimicry to re­ invention'.15 The range of theme and setting achieved in Darkness is the ground of Mukherjee's subsequent work to date. Middlerru:ln and Other Stories,16 the book that followed Darkness, implied her willingness to be a 'middleman' for the stories of Americans and permanent residents of many ethnicities besides the Indo-Americans who dominate Darkness. The stories in Middle­ man are located throughout the United States and in Mexico, Canada, and Sri Lanka; they depict Americans of varied ethnic backgrounds as well as Hungarians, Filipinos, Vietnamese, Trinidadians, Afghans, and Asian Indians of many stripes. Continuing this expansiveness, her latest novel, Jasmine, takes place in Punjab, Florida, New York City, and rural Iowa. I wish here to define the connections between Mukherjee's art and her themes in Darkness, above all the titular theme. I begin by demonstrating how 'Courtly Vision' serves as summation though not summary of the book, for the themes of 'Courtly Vision' - art, sex, the encounter between East and West, spirituality- echo those of the preceding eleven stories. In attempting such large themes in the frame of a miniature- 'Courtly Vi­ sion' occupies a mere five pages, Darkness itself only 199- Mukherjee the American adopts and adapts the aesthetic of the Moghul miniature painting with its crazy foreshortening of vanishing point, its insistence that everything happens simultaneously... In the miniature paintings of India there are a dozen separate foci, the most complicated of stories can be rendered on a grain of rice, the comers are as elaborated as the centers. There is a sense of the interpenetration of all things.17 'Total vision': that is what Mukherjee's Emperor Akbar demands of Basa­ wan/8 his leading painter and it is what Mukherjee demands of herself. 'Transport Me ... into the Hearts of Men': Bharati Mukherjee's D_a_rk_ne_ss _ _ __ In 'Courtly Vision', Mukherjee describes a painting such as we've en­ countered in earlier stories- a painting such as Nafeesa in 'The Lady from Lucknow' hangs in rows in her house in Atlanta (p. 30), such as Leela's husband takes her to see at Sotheby's in New York (p. 129), such as the cynical Maharaja 'sell[s] off ... for ten thousand dollars' to Americans 'who understand our things better than we do ourselves' (p. 135), such as Dr. Manny Patel's American ex-wife, Camille, retains as part of the divorce settlement. Wayne, Camille's lover, holds her 'against dusty glass, behind which an emperor in Moghul battledress is leading his army out of the capital... Wayne has her head in his grasp. Her orange hair tufts out between his knuckles, and its orange mist covers the bygone emperor and his soldiers' (p. 154). The violent collocation of red-headed American and Mughal emperor- the painting may be the very one described in 'Courtly Vision'- is typical of Mukherjee's work, leaving the reader to tease mean­ ing out of the mist. Mukherjee's extraordinary verbal miniature in 'Courtly Vision' is not immediately recognizable as a story in the sense that the other pieces in Darkness are. The opening paragraphs are disorienting: Jahanara Begum stands behind a marble grille in her palace at Fatehpur-Sikri. Count Barthelmy, an adventurer from beyond frozen oceans, crouches in a lust-darkened arbor... The Count is posed full-front... (p. 195) Gradually, one realizes that some, although not all, of the language is that of a subliterary genre, the auction-house catalogue, as the concluding words make plain: "Emperor on Horseback Leaves Walled City" Painting on Paper, 24 ems x 25.8 ems Painter Unknown. No superscription c. 1584 A.D. Lot No. SLM 4027-66 Est. Price $750 (p. 199) As the dollar sign indicates, the painting is being auctioned in the United States; one remembers ' the Fraser Collection of Islamic miniatures at the York Avenue galleries' that Leela Lahiri in 'Hindus' visits at Sotheby's New York auction house (p. 129).19 'Emperor on Horseback Leaves Walled City' is divided into a number of distinct scenes. The title points to the figure of highest stature, the Em­ peror Akbar, who 'occupies the foreground of that agate-colored paper' (p. 198). In the story, however, we do not hear about his scene until more than halfway through. Mukherjee's opening paragraph focuses on another scene, singling out one of Akbar's numerous wives and naming her Jahanara Begum20 - just as many of these stories place in the center those who appear marginal in North American society. In contrast to Mukherjee's stories of the marginal, however, in the painting we see major figures on the stage of Indian history as well as the slave girls, courtiers, and other anonymous attendants. Anyone acquainted with Mughal painting would recognize the 'walled city' as Akbar's City of Victory, Fatehpur-Sikri, the splendid complex of buildings that the emperor ordered constructed in 1571 and then aban­ doned in 1585, a year after the date of Mukherjee's painting;21 Mukherjee's visionary Akbar knows that soon 'my new capital will fail, will turn to dust and these marbled terraces be home to jackals and infidels' (p. 199), although Fatehpur-Sikri will remain preserved in paintings and in fact exists today for tourists. In including Basawan in his painting, Mukherjee's painter is paying tribute to the most phenomenonally gifted of Akbar's stable of brilliant painters. Basawan and Mukherjee's unknown painter share the twin purposes of documenting historical events and 'transport­ ing' the viewer into the 'hearts of men'. Mukherjee's painting records a specific moment in history, when Portu­ guese Jesuit priests arrived in response to Akbar's warm invitation to visit and to bring 'the principal books of the Law and the Gospels'?2 Their visit was documented by Akbar's artists.23 But just as Akbar's painters reached far beyond merely documenting Fatehpur-Sikri, the verbal art of 'Courtly Vision' reaches far beyond the confines of a catalogue description; inter­ woven with the language of the catalogue is the language of the fiction writer - interpreting, describing, implying: [The) simple subservience [of the Begum's slave girl] hints at malevolent dreams ... The Begum is a tall, rigid figure as she stands behind a marble grille... Oh, beauteous and beguHing Begum, has your slave-girl apprised the Count of the consequences of a night of bliss? (p. 196) Mukherjee is playing (seriously) with her reader, melding the genres of fiction, history, and the auction-house catalogue in order to clarify her subject. That subject is nothing less than the complexities of mind and feel­ ing produced when a person from one highly developed culture travels to, and then enters into, another such culture. Besides the lustful (and apparently fictitious) Count Barthelmy, two other (and historical) European travellers are depicted in Mukherjee's painting. 'Fathers [Rudolph] Aquaviva and [Francis] Henriques, ingenuous Portu­ guese priests' who 'have dogged the emperor through inclement scenery' (p. 197), now sit under the Begum's window. While Barthelmy is trans­ ported by lust, the supremely assured Jesuits have come in order to trans­ port- that is, to proselytize the people whom they meet- but not to be transported themselves. Through the letters of the historical Aquaviva and Henriques rings their anticipation of Akbar's conversion in response to the Christian texts and paintings that they have brought. Although failing in its ultimate aim, the Jesuit mission left lasting aesthetic traces, for the 'wondrous paintings' (p. 197) that they brought introduced themes and l f $ I ) s I s I II' J 1it it tt ¥ rIn of I er ~l1Is er ~g. techniques of Western art that had an immediate influence on Indian painting?4 'Courtly Vision' invites us to look back on Darkness to observe the multiple perspectives of Western and Indian art, to see how Mukherjee herself has 'accommodate[d] a decidedly Hindu imagination with an Americanized sense of the craft of fiction'.25 In 'Courtly Vision' she implies that what appears to be a book of short stories about mostly unconnected characters26 has a unity analogous to that of a Mughal miniature incorp­ orating several related but separate scenes, a unity discoverable by the dis­ cerning viewer. The structure of 'Emperor on Horseback Leaves Walled City' - and therefore of 'Courtly Vision' and, ultimately, of Darkness - is distinctly nonWestern. As Mukherjee leads us through the painting's multiple scenes, it may seem (to a Western eye) an exquisitely painted hodgepodge, intolerably overpopulated with innumerable anonymous bit players and six named major characters (Akbar, Basawan, Fathers Aquaviva and Henriques, Count Barthelmy, and Jahanara Begum). Yet the painting is unified by style and by themes that it shares with many of the stories in Darkness, above all the themes of art and of darkness. 'Courtly Vision' is about a work of art that itself includes two scenes with a specifically artistic content, the scene in which the Jesuits display European paintings 'on the arabesques of the rug' (p. 197) and the scene depicting Akbar's farewell to Basawan; the latter, which concludes the story, occupies the largest space. Whereas Mukherjee's imagined painting offers 'life's playful fecundity' (p. 197), the European paintings depicted within it- monotonously repeating the theme of 'Mother and Child, Child and Mother' (p. 197)- set 'precarious boundaries' on that fecundity: here Mukherjee implies a sort of allegory of the relationship she establishes between the 'precarious boundaries' set by Western rules and the non­ Western rules that paradoxically enclose the 'boundaries' as her imagined painting includes the European art. To the emperor, raised in Islam, the European paintings seem 'simple and innocuous, not complicated and in­ furiating like the Hindu icons hidden in the hills' (p. 197) and implicit in the imagined painting. When Akbar calls a last command to Basawan, his 'co-wanderer'- 'Give me total vision'- Mukherjee implies that Basawan's vision will incorporate Western perspectives; even more important, she implies that Basawan will experience that state of being 'united with the universe' that she describes as her own feeling when she wrote these stories (p. 1). This experience, of course, is what used to be called 'inspira­ tion,' and it is related to the state of 'grace' to which several of her charac­ ters aspire (pp. 10-11, 60, 69, 146) and which may be symbolized by the light toward which Akbar rides. Going toward but not yet engaged in battle, Mukherjee's emperor rides out into the 'grayish gold' of 'late afternoon' into light that 'spills' over the entire painting, 'charg[ing the scene] with unusual excitement' and 'dis­ cover[ing] the immense intimacy of darkness' (p. 198). Akbar's Indian darkness beckons, intense and sexual, in contrast to the North American darkness that is a setting for other characters' painful illuminations of their fractured conditions. When, in the story entitled 'Tamurlane', Mounties arrive hunting illegal immigrants in Toronto, the employees of the Mumtaz Bar B-Q swing into their defensive routine: 'Mohun and I headed for the basement and since I was taller, I unscrewed the light bulb on my way down' (p. 123). Into the tense darkness of the basement one of the Mounties calls, 'Light?' - and illuminates the basement himself with 'a torch, brighter than a searchlight' (p. 123). These immigrants bring darkness with them but not their own light. In North America the energizing interchange of light and dark de­ picted in 'Courtly Vision' vanishes; Indian darkness proves untranslatable, and North American darkness is threatening. Perhaps, having crossed the taboo Dark Water, the immigrants have forfeited cultural protection. When Leela Lahiri in 'Hindus' speaks of 'the gathering of the darknesses we shared' (p. 135), she refers to the literal dark skins of the immigrants but even more to the shadows they inhabit within American society; she refers as well to the ghettoes Mukherjee shuns, to self-protective gatherings of the dark-skinned such as the party hosted by a maharaja in a 'third floor sublet in Gramercy Park South [in New York] ... where the smell of stale turmeric hung like yellow fog from the ceiling' (pp. 132-33). For the most part, the darknesses of Darkness are metaphoric; they affect the atmosphere of the book subtly, much as the turmeric enters Leela's nose or the 'winter light ... discovers' the darkness in the Mughal mini­ ature (p. 198). In a California darkness inhabited by ancient Hindu deities, 'even a nine-year-old American boy with good grades can confess his fear of gods and unholy spirits' and beg his Punjabi-speaking grandfather for a 'new ghost story' to allay his fear of the old (p. 183). In 'A Father', Mr. Bhowmick wonders how he could 'tell these bright mocking women', his sceptical wife and daughter, that in the 5:43 a.m. darkness, he sensed invisible presences: gods and snakes frolicked in the master bedroom, little white sparks of cosmic static crackled up the legs of his pajamas. Something was out there in the dark, something that could invent accidents and coincidences to remind mortals that even in Detroit they were no more than mortal. (p. 61) How, indeed, can he speak of quintessential Hindu darkness when his wife shouts in idiomatic American English, 'Hurry it up with the prayers' (p. 60), and his engineer daughter, Babli- graduate of Georgia Tech- tells him: 'Face it, Dad.... You have an affect deficit' (p. 61)? In the pre-dawn darkness he prays to the image of Kali, 'the patron goddess of his family' in Ranchi (p. 60). Adorned with her customary 'garland strung together from sinners' chopped off heads,' Mr. Bhowmick's Kali resides in a 'make­ shift wooden shrine' that he himself has made for her in Woodworking I and II at a nearby recreation center' (p. 60). Detroit seems an appropriate 'Transport Me ... into the Hearts of Men': Bh-ar-ati Mukherjee's Darkness location for a goddess 'associat[ed] with the periphery of Hindu society' and 'worshipped ... in uncivilized or wild places'.27 As he chants Sanskrit prayers, however, Mr. Bhowmick mistakes her expression, imagining her to look 'warm, cozy, pleased' (p. 60); in Detroit he forgets that Kali is 'glistening black' (p. 60) because she represents destruction and disorder on a cosmic scale. At the end of the story, Babli Bhowmick becomes Kali- 'her tongue, thick and red, squirming behind her row of perfect teeth' - a monstrous echo of Mr. Bhowmick's image of Kali with her 'scarlet and saucy ... tongue ... stuck out at the world' in a gesture of defiance familiar to Westerners (pp. 73, 62).28 Babli and Kali have 'the same terrifying personality, ... the same independence'.29 Incarnate in an American young woman who con­ siders 'this Hindu myth stuff ... like a series of su~er graphics' (p. 65), such darkness attains a thoroughly Hindu gower. 'Both terrible and sweet ... alternately destroying and creating', 1 Kali is 'a destroyer of evil so that the world can be renewed' .32 Like Kali 'without husband, consort or lover',33 Babli is nonetheless pregnant- by artificial insemination, to her father's Hindu horror. If her pregnancy is a kind of renewal, it is one beyond the ken of Mr. Bhowmick, who in the final paragraph brings a rolling pin 'down hard on the dome of Babli's stomach' (p. 73).34 As the kind of mother to whom Kali's devotees prayed- 'Mother ... thou art the spoiler of my fortunes'35 - Babli is indeed like Kali-Mata, to whom her father prays (p. 71), for she is 'capable of shaking one's comfortable and naive assumptions about the world' and inviting 'a wider, more mature, more realistic reflection on where one has come from and where one is going'.36 When Mukherjee reveals the defiantly American engineer Babli trans­ lated into Kali, she illustrates how Indian immigrants and their children may be swept up into the darkness of their ancestral past. Those Indians who, like Leela in 'Hindus', marry white Americans may find themselves separated from their dark community. Leela has to be dragged by her hus­ band to Sotheby's to view an exhibit including paintings such as that described in 'Courtly Vision': 'It bothered Derek that I knew so little about my heritage. Islam is nothing more than a marauder's faith to me, but' and the 'but' is revelatory- 'the Mogul emperors stayed a long time in the green delta of the Ganges, flattening and reflattening a fort in the village where I was born, and forcing my priestly ancestors to prove themselves brave' (p. 129). Similarly forced to acknowledge her complicated heritage, this would-be American without an accent is in fact keenly aware of her Brahmin ancestry, and when she speaks 'Hindu' (Hindi) to a fellow Indian, she admits her inescapable inheritance. Even those of Mukherjee's characters who have 'wanted all along to exchange [their] native world for an alien one' (p. 164), who seek to be 'pukka Americans' (p. 170), are betrayed by their own words; for them, English remains a 'step-mother tongue'.37 In 'Nostalgia', Dr. Manny Patel (M.D., Johns Hopkins) attempts to be a 'pukka American'. But when Mr. Horowitz, a schizophrenic patient, attacks Dr. Patel physically and abuses him verbally as 'Paki scum' - a phrase 'about as appealing as it is for an Israeli to be called a Syrian'38 - Dr. Patel 'reach[es] automatically for the miracle cures of his Delhi youth', in this case masala tea (p. 105). 'Shuttl[ing] between the old world and the new' (p. 105), in the aftermath of Horowitz's attack Dr. Patel instinctively takes himself 'home'; home, however, is Little India in Manhattan, not his native land or his 'three-hundred-thousand-dollar house with an atrium in the dining hall' (p. 98). In his Horowitz-weakened state, Dr. Patel easily trans­ forms a venal shopgirl named Padrna into the lotus goddess Padma, men­ tally replacing her "'Police" T-shirt and navy cords' with 'a sari of peacock blue silk' and 'bracelets of 24-carat gold' (p. 101). No lotus goddess, Padma of Little India turns out to be part of a blackmail scheme. Having discovered the treachery of nostalgia, Dr. Patel writes 'WHORE' in his own feces on the hotel mirror and resolves to 'make up for this night with a second honeymoon' with his American wife (p. 113). But as we learn from a second story in which he figures, 'Saints,' his marriage is already wrecked, and soon his 'big house in New Jersey' will be sold (p. 146). In 'Saints', Dr. Patel's fifteen-year-old son, Shawn, doesn't feel himself to be a 'real American' (p. 151) despite his American mother. As he scans the telephone directory looking for some version of his Hindu father, he comes upon 'Batliwalla, Jamshed S., M.D.'; too ignorant to recognize the name as Parsi (BaUiwalla is himself a minority in the Indian context), he walks at midnight to Batliwalla's house. Seeking to 'become somebody else's son' (p. 156), Shawn identifies with Batliwalla's 'dwarfkid' son, whom he can see studying energetically as if 'he's the conqueror of [the] alien' (p. 157), a kind of miniature Akbar translated to the upstate New York town to which Shawn and his mother have moved. As the story reaches its climax in the literal dark, we observe Shawn identifying at once with Ramakrishna- the 'Hindu saint who had visions' (153) about whom he's read in a book sent by his father- and with the emperor in the mini­ ature painting against which Wayne thrusts his mother. Told in the first person, the story poignantly describes Shawn's fantasy that, like Rama­ krishna, he is 'in a trance in the middle of a November night' (p. 158). But Shawn's trance, unlike Ramakrishna's, fails to relieve him of his daily pain. Ramakrishna is never named in 'Saints', because for Shawn the name means nothing. Readers acquainted with the renowned ascetic and vision­ ary, however, will identify the Calcutta saint of the gift book as Rama­ krishna (1836-86), famous for 'see[ing] the Divine Mother [Kalil in all things' (p. 153). It is not surprising that a follower of Kali in his trances 'sometimes ... kicks his disciples', who beg him: 'Kick, kick' (p. 153); he tells his 'young boy followers' that he loves them as he would love 'a sweetheart' (p. 155).39 When he breaks an arm while entranced by the 'Transport Me ... into the Hearts of M-en': Bharati Mukherjee's Darkness - - -~--Ganges, he finds 'no separation' between 'love and pain' (p. 155).40 Mukherjee chooses those aspects of Ramakrishna that would appeal to Shawn, who resembles the saint because he suffers and 'can't hurt' (p. 158), aspires to transcendence, dresses like a woman,41 and has a boy follower (Tran, a Vietnamese refugee). The book Dr. Patel has sent is one that once gave him, so his inscription reads, 'happiness ... when I was your age' (p. 153), but there is another connection as well: 'The saint died of throat cancer and was briefly treated by your great-uncle, the cancer specialist in Calcutta' (p. 153).42 Whether the teenage Dr. Patel really felt 'happiness' or whether his recol­ lection is colored by nostalgia we cannot know. We do know Shawn's mise:/'; like Ramakrishna, he is 'mentally confused about his own iden­ tity'.4 Later in the upstate-New York night, darkness enables him to feel a momentary surge of identification with his other model, Akbar, the 'po­ tentate in battledress' (p. 158). Yet Shawn has conquered nothing, and his pathetic claim to be a 'visionary' (p. 158) is belied by his mother's shocked realization that his night-walking is accomplished in her coat, hat, and thick make-up. One moment a transfigured transvestite, another moment a breather of adolescent obscene phone calls, Shawn is one moment an American, another moment an Indian. In his unstable national and cul­ tural identities, he is a recurring type of character in Mukherjee's fiction. The title of Shawn's story, 'Saints', alerts us to another aspect that ties him to other characters, including Akbar in 'Courtly Vision'. While most of Mukherjee's characters are resolutely secular, in key stories characters seek for grace, for light in their spiritual darkness, for grace triumphing 'over all that's shameful in human nature' (p. 17). Dr. Patel believes that 'gods and goddesses ... could leap into your life in myriad, mysterious ways, as a shopgirl, for instance, or as a withered eggplant, just to test you' (p. 105), and Mr. Bhowmick senses spiritual presences in the Detroit pre-dawn. This theme frames Darkness, appearing at the end of the book in 'Courtly Vision' and at the very beginning in 'Angela', in which the title character is a Bangladeshi orphan rescued by nuns from the ditch where she was left for dead at dusk during the Indo-Pakistani war of 1971. Re­ named and raised a Catholic, the Muslim-born Angela has been adopted by a Protestant farming family in Iowa and is now being wooed by Goan doctor.44 'Only a doctor could love this body', she thinks, aware of her scars (pp. 19, 11). In America 'for less than two years' (p. 9), Angela has been 'forced to assimilate' (p. 17): a high-school cheerleader, she speaks of her newly acquired Iowan 'sisters' and her 'Dad'; she knows how to soothe grief with Diet Coke (p. 9); and she has learned to enjoy a Sunday pork roast because 'pigs aren't filthy creatures here as they are back home' (p. 14). It is 'grace [that] makes my life spin', says Angela (p. 10). As she puzzles over the meaning of grace, she visualizes it as 'a black, tropical bat, cutting through dusk on blunt, ugly wings', an image associated with the beauty and horrors of the Bangladeshi war that took place in 'the lavender dusk of the tropics' (pp. 11, 19).45 Angela, who seeks grace, is herself an instru­ ment conveying grace to others, for the Lord has given her the capacity to express beauty, a means of transcendence; in the orphanage in Bangla­ desh she learned to play the piano, and 'together, pianist and audience, we have triumphed over sin, rapacity, war' (pp. 16-17), over all that's dark in human nature. Having endured violence, she has been transfigured by it; Mukherjee agrees with an interviewer's suggestion that violence is 'ne­ cessary to a transformation of character',46 a view apparent in the incidents of political and domestic violence that figure in nearly every story and in most of Mukherjee's other work. Believing in miracles, Angela 'wait[s] for some sign', knowing that 'I've been saved for a purpose' (p. 19). It is toward such a sense of spiritual purpose that Shawn Patel gropes as he leafs through the book on Ramakrishna. Although none of Mukherjee's characters aspire as consciously as Shawn to be saints in America, most are trying in some way to adjust the dreams of their prior life to their present condition, and often they have trouble reading the present; even so, all - in the words of the title character of Jasmine - seek 'enlightenment ... sensing designs in history's muddles' (p. 52). In Darkness, often the characters' 'English isn't good enough' (p. 8), even when it's so fluent that they sound as if they've 'lived here always' (p. 140). 'English', we must recognize, means the entire panoply of cultural signs that so fascinate Mukherjee, not merely the American dialect of the world language. In 'Visitors', a recently arrived bride named Vinita understand­ ably thinks that a Calcutta-born but United States-raised young man shod in muddy 'two-tone New Balance running shoes' is 'just another Amer­ ican' (pp. 167, 172) or, if not exactly an American, then a 'looter of Amer­ ican culture' (p. 172), another modem-day Mughal emperor. Although Vinita's education as a French major at Loreto College has prepared her to 'disarm an emaciated Communist pointing a pipe-gun at her pet chihuahua' in Calcutta (p. 173), she has no idea how to handle 'the mad passions of a maladjusted failed American' (174). She finds in Rimbaud the mot juste: 'Oh! quel Reve les a saisies ... un reve inoui: des Asies' (p. 172). What can a 'dream that has seized them, the unheard-of dream of Asias' mean in Guttenberg, New Jersey (a suitable setting for newly invented Indo-Americans)? When the dreamed-about now must do the dreaming, it is small wonder that they experience some sense of dis­ location. A displaced person at horne nowhere, Ratna in 'The World According to Hsii' is expert in 'the plate tectonics of emotion' (p. 54). As she sits in a hotel dining room far from her Montreal house, she feels 'for the moment at horne in that collection of Indians and Europeans babbling in ['step-mother'] English,' a 'mutually agreed upon second language' (pp. 56, 54). The half-Indian, half-Czech Ratna demonstrates how MukherTransport Me ... into the Hearts of Men': Bharati Mukherjee's Darkness - - - - jee's vision encompasses those whose misfortune it is to have no vision, nothing more than a bleak awareness of their dislocation. 'The World According to Hsii', which takes place in an unnamed former French colony, is the only story in Darkness to be set outside of North America. Although at first glance 'Courtly Vision' is set in India, the actual New-York auction-house setting may hint at a kind of cultural bar­ gaining that goes on in many of these stories. Many of Mukherjee's char­ acters are trying to make 'small trade-offs between new-world reason­ ableness and old-world beliefs', like Mr. Bhowmick in 'A Father' (p. 64). In being 'caught between rules' (p. 72), the Bhowmicks may remind us of Akbar when he attempted to foster a syncretic religion and admit alien aesthetics to his artists' visions. In choosing that moment in Mughal history for 'Courtly Vision', Mukherjee reveals her characters' and her own dilemma and opportunity. 'Hide nothing from me, my co-wanderer', Mukherjee's Akbar commands Basawan (p. 199) - and thus Mukherjee commands herself, traveling into the inner spaces of characters both settled and homeless. 'Nothing was excluded', Mukherjee comments on a Hindu temple frieze;47 her remark helps explain the essential Hinduism of a writer at home everywhere. Concluding Darkness with a rich allusion to Akbar's deliberate mixing of East and West, Mukherjee emphasizes the emperor's intellectual curiosity and spiritual exploration, reminding us of the representatives of different cultural, religious, and aesthetic traditions whom he invited to his court. At Mukherjee's command, a similar variety of characters people her stories - Angela, the Muslim from Dakha turned Catholic by a twist of fate; Horowitz, the Jewish schizophrenic in a Queens psychiatric hospital; Batliwalla, the Parsi doctor in upstate New York; the Sikh grandfather in California who claims to have killed Gandhi in Delhi ('The Imaginary Assassin' ); innumerable others from Calcutta, Ranchi, Ludhiana, and else­ where on the subcontinent; and assorted North Americans ranging from the Iowa Presbyterians of 'Angela' to Ann Vane of 'Isolated Incidents', a graduate of 'Miss Edgar's and Miss Cramp's' school in Toronto who stares at the 'Chinese and Indians and Jamaicans, bent over their snack-packs of Kentucky Fried Chicken' (pp. 81, 93). As she sits in 'a Colonel Sanders spot on Bloor' in Toronto, Ann reflects that 'home was a territory of the mind' (pp. 89, 90). No matter whether in Toronto or Georgia or New York, any immigrant or immigrant's child attempting to integrate and still retain fundamental ties with 'home' may comfort herself by claiming to be 'a traveller ... at home everywhere, be­ cause she is never at home anywhere' (p. 31); but more likely he will find himself, like Dr. Patel, 'a traveller over shifting sands' (p. 112), sometimes striding onward, sometimes stumbling, sometimes falling. For all their par­ ticularity, Mukherjee's characters are part of a world-wide phenomenon; they struggle to be 'at home' in North America while attempting to avoid what Rushdie has called 'the largest and most dangerous pitfall' that may entrap the immigrant, 'the adoption of a ghetto mentality'.48 For these travelers intend to stay, to become settlers, to lay claim to North America as the Mughals laid claim to India. Although Mukherjee declares that her fiction is 'about conquests, and not about loss',49 her char­ acters do endure the disorientation that is the lot of most immigrants. If there is a conquest, it is that of Mukherjee the artist as she gives shape to her characters' experience of fragmentation. Implicit in 'Courtly Vision' is Mukherjee's wry revision of Akbar's yearning for 'a utopian India' where all peoples could live in peace.50 Perhaps the best way of penetrating Darkness is to understand it as another work in the spirit of Akbar, toler­ ant of diversity while seeking unity of vision. As Akbar was a conquerer and a syncretist, hoping to create a new vision out of elements of previous ideas, so Mukherjee's 'insurrections of language, [her] subversions or deliberate destructions of sacrosanct literary forms', aim at creating new vision.51 In Darkness she charts the territory to be conquered, territory worthy of 'epic' treatment in some future ' maximalist' fiction.52 In closing Darkness with 'Courtly Vision', Mukherjee may look not only back to the preceding stories -sad, often violent, sometimes funny - but forward to some future fiction in which her characters' life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness come a good deal closer to the goal than they do in Darkness. In Mukherjee's writing of the 1980s we see the pursuit but no more than a fleeting achievement of happiness. Yet her reader, like the viewer of a Mughal miniature, does experience happiness. As he rides into the dark­ ness of war, Mukherjee's Akbar demands a kind of light, for he expects Basawan to describe the future 'in a way that makes me smile' (p. 199). This suggestion of the delight afforded by Mughal paintings, even when they describe subjects such as fear and death ('Tell me who to fear and who to kill'), also applies to Mukherjee's own works of art. Into her 'sim­ ple and innocuous' Western narratives s he enfolds the 'complicated and infuriating' lives of her Hindu characters in North America, striving for the realistic description, multiple perspectives, and transcendent delight afforded by Basawan and his colleagues. The final command that she at· tributes to Akbar sums up Mukherjee's own effort as an artist: 'Transport me ... into the hearts of men' .53 NOTFS 1. A number of reviewers made this observation, including Peter Nazareth ('Total Vision', Canadian Literature, no. 110 [1986], p. 190), Patricia Bradbury, and Hope Cook; for Bradbury and Cook, see excerpts in Contemporary Literary Criticism, VIII. 53 (1989), pp. 266, 267. Subsequently, Mukherjee herself declared: 'My image artistic structure and a rtistic excellence is the Moghal miniature painting' ('A Hundred-Year-Old Woman', in The Writer on her Work: New Essays in New I e' . f · 'Transport Me ... into the Hearts of Men': Bharati Mukherjee's Darkness - -- - - - 3 3 3 31 3~ 'Transport Me ... into the Hearts of Men': Bharati Mukherjee's Dark-nes-s - - - --~~ ~~ of her child, nor ... a lover for his sweetheart, as I did for them!' (qtd. Anon., Life of Sri Ramakrishna, op. cit., p. 196). 40. Christopher Isherwood describes this often-related incident in terms close to Mukhetjee's (Ramakrishna and His Disciples, 2nd ed. [Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1980], p. 245). 41. Like Shawn, Ramakrishna began dressing like a woman as a teenager Osherwood, op. cit., pp. 35-36). Carl Olson devotes a chapter to this and related behavior, said by some to be insane (The Mysterious Play of .Kali: An Interpretation of Ramakrishna [Atlanta, Georgia: Scholars Press, 1990), pp. 49-67). Toward the end of his life, Ramakrishna's 'sex-role confusion was "gradually" being cured, and he was becom­ ing ... more certain of his male sexuality' (Olson, p. 50). Another possibly relevant aspect of Ramakrishna's thought is the religious eclecticism that he shared with Akbar. Ramakrishna's vision of Mohammed, in 1866, led him to a period of Islamic practice; his much more intense Christian experience, in 1874, lifted him 'into a new state of ecstasy' in which 'Christ possessed his soul' (Solange Lemaitre, Ramakrishna and the Vitality of Hinduism, trans. Charles Lam Markmann [Woodstock, NY: Over­ look Press, 1984], pp. 109-10). 42. The great-uncle is presumably one of the 'well-known physicians of Calcutta' who examined Ramakrishna in 1885, diagnosed his throat cancer, and declared it incur­ able (Swami Saradananda, Sri Ramakrishna: The Great Master, trans. Swami Jagada­ nanda, 5th ed. rev. [Mylapore and Madras: Sri Ramakrishna Math, 1978-79) , vol. 2, p. 961). 43. Olson, The Mysterious Play of .Kali, op. cit., p. 49. 44. As a Goan, he is presumably Catholic. 45. This dusk is darker than but still related to the dusk of only other scene set on the Indian subcontinent, that in 'Courtly Vision'. The image of the bat appears later in jasmine (p. 162). 46. Qtd. in Connell, Grearson, and Grimes,'An Interview with Bharati Mukherjee', op. cit., p. 8. This interview develops the theme with particular reference to jasmine, in which Mukhetjee's preoccupation with violence reaches its fictional apogee. That preoccupation may have been furthered by the nonfiction book that she wrote with Clark Blaise, The Sorrow and the Terror: The Haunting Legacy of the Air India Tragedy (1987; Markham, Ontario: Penguin Books, 1988); 'The Management of Grief' in The Midddleman, which is narrated by a grief-benumbed woman whose husband and two sons have gone down in the Air India crash of 23 June 1985. 47. Mukhetjee, Days and Nights in Calcutta, op. cit., p. 171. 48. Rushdie, Imaginary Homel11nds, op. cit., p. 19. Mukhetjee declares that she 1ook[sl on ghettoization ... as a temptation to be surmounted'('A Four-Hundred-Year-Old Woman', p. 34). 49. Geoff Hancock, 'An Interview with Bharati Mukhetjee', Canadian Fiction Magazine 59 (1987), p. 37. 50. Welch, The Art of Muglull India, op. cit., p. 11. 51. Mukhetjee, 'Mimicry and Reinvention', op. cit., p. 149. 52. Bharati Mukhetjee, 'Immigrant Writing', op. cit., pp. 1, 28. 53. For their advice regarding an earlier draft, I am indebted to members of the West­ chester Women Writers group: Eileen Allman, Jayana Clerk (whose knowledge of Indian culture illuminated my darkness), Phyllis Fahre Edelson, Mary Ellen LeClair, and Ziva Piltch. Singapore 99 - ---------------------------------- ---------------By any measure 1991 and 1992 were crucial years for the literary, dramatic and arts scene in Singapore. The publication, in 1991, of George Nonis' book, Hello Chok Tong Goodbye Kuan Yew almost signalled a new mood, a new phase in the cultural and liter­ ary ethos of this small nation-state. Nonis commented that it had taken him a long time to bring his book (a book essentially of cartoons lampooning political life in Singapore but taking some risks of the sort he thought the new Prime Minister- Goh Chok Tong - will be more receptive to than the old Prime Minister- Mr Lee Kuan Yew) but that he finally decided to do so after hearing and reading of Mr Goh Chok Tong and the 'open' style of government. This 'open' mood also saw the setting up- and subsequent report- of a National Re­ view Committee on Censorship. For a long time writers, artists, and film and television people had been nervous about censorship and several had had their works objected too. The setting up of a Ministry of the Arts and the Singapore National Arts Council (this latter body chaired by a very respected Singaporean - Professor Tommy Koh) meant here was a chance for an overhaul. And the overhaul did begin. Several young writers and people connected with the arts were appointed to this National Committe and their recommendations have had a fundamental impact on the production and cir­ culation of arts. Of course, the majority of Singaporeans- if we are to believe the Press and media- were quite uncomfortable with some of the Committee's recommendations (such as allowing the 'R' rating for films to be aged 18) and wanted a more conservative dismantling (if at all) of existing censorship rules and procedures. Thus Singapore did -and does- get films which previously was not possible (The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Wild at Heart , Basic Instinct...) but there are still strong restrictions and some films, one guesses, will still never be allowed commercially (i.e. the concept of 'art' cinemas and 'adult' cinemas is not one which sits comfortably with the conservative population). It is interesting to note that while some lobbying for a magazine such as Cosmopolitan took place, the magazine (along with predictable others- e.g. Playboy) remains banned/ censored. But the relaxation is real and not to be frowned upon. Apart from the cinema, its big impact has been on the fiction produced in Singapore and on the plays performed. Several controversial plays (with nude/near nude scenes for example) have been allowed on stage but to audiences eighteen and above ashould state that for films the 'R' rating is for those above twenty-one). While ministerial comment has been to signal caution lest the relaxed atmosphere becomes promiscuous, the actual productions have been fairly free- thus plays such as Private Parts and Two Clam One have taken the con­ cept of theatre freedom to new heights in Singapore. The visual art scene has been similarly freed from anxieties of certain censorship; thus quite explicit nude drawings featuring sometimes portraits of the artists themselves have made their appearances at places like The Substation and been the subject of discus­ sion and debate. Sexuality as a theme is very much in the light as it were as more and more young Singaporeans begin to express their own perceptions openly and artistic­ ally. For the first time in Singapore's art history, artists were now prepared to put their own private life as artists for public view - a bold, challenging step which prompts newfound confidence but which also still invites strong resistance. In 1990 the present writer had publicly stated that 'the next few years will see an in­ evitable increase in the production of literary works which, while not being particularly of a high literary quality, will, nevertheless, be very popular'. The context was the over­ whelming success of sensational storybooks, fictions of the supernatural, horror, the bizarre, the ghostly. Both 1991 and 1992 saw this prediction corning through almost with a vengeance! Book after book appeared and book after book sold- the entire face of literary readership seemed to be changing; the macabre, the deviously comic, the strange and the frightening were hot themes, and among them they captured readers. Sales of books at the Annual Book Fairs reached unimaginable heights with some titles selling thousands over a couple of days -a phenomena perhaps not unknown in some countries but certainly new to the Singapore Literary scene. Much of the new reader- following can be attributed to two factors: one, a willingness on the part of writers to venture forth into newer areas of expression (so the comic book now becomes an accepted part of 'literature') which attempt to make sense of 'taboo' experiences (hence several books dealt with themes of homosexuality, bizarre sex, trans­ vestism) and, two, a more open discussion of various books and issues by the reading public. It must here be noted that one major breakthrough was achieved by and through the publication of Excuse Me -1re You a Model by Bonny Hicks. This autobio­ graphical book, written by a young twenty-one-year-old model who confessed to having an English father who wanted nothing to do with her, affairs with several different men and the trials which invariably awaited a young woman in the modelling industry/ business, made a huge impact on the Singaporean sensibility. Public forums and discus­ sions were held where the author was condemned, damned, praised, defended and where she herseU appeared to give her side of the story. Excuse Me Are You a Modd took Singapore literature by storm and within a few it had unprecedented sales and the author became a 'literary' figure overnight! The book is significant; written simply but with enormous candour, it basically said, 'look at me, I didn't go to University, this is my story, these are the men I' ve been with, this is my background and this is what it took me to become a professional model.' It is, in its own way, a moving book, naive perhaps at times, but on the whole mature, confident, assertive, frank, honest. It was the brutal honesty which disturbed and offended the moral pundits, chief among them, ironically a woman who was (and is) involved with women's rights! Bonny Hicks went on to write a second book, this time a novel, Discuss Disgust, again having as her theme the untalked-about subject of women who prostituted themselves discreetly in order to bring up their kids. Written primarily from the point of view of the young heroine (if that term could be used) the book disturbingly challenges the image of Singapore as a squeaky clean, morally upright society. Other books which might be mentioned here include Joash Moo's Sisterhood (again the subject of comment in the Press regarding its morality since it appeared to endorse and condone those who were transvestites), Gopal Baratham's Sayang (described by many readers, at leas t verbally, as being almost porno­ graphic), Antonio Chan's Lusts from the Underworld (a racy story of gangsters and sex), Colin Cheong's Poets Priests and Prostitutes (motorcycle gangs, girls and the contradic­ tions of evolving identities), Felix Chia's The Lady in Red and her Companion (naughty stories about naughty women), Johnny Lau's Medium Rilre (a lot of sex and the bizarre, made into a film), Johann Lee's Peculiar Chris (about a gay), Sumiko Tan's Sisters ill Crime (culled from the newspapers and police reports about women in crime) and Felix Soh's Harlots (about sex and its deviant pleasures, withdrawn within weeks of publica­ tion on account of its unhealthy morality). The above should not lead readers to conclude that no serious fiction / poetry was pro­ duced (incidentally many of the writers venturing into categories discussed above see themselves as 'serious'): several were. Gopal Baratham's A Candle or the Sun, Rex Shelley's The Shrimp People, Simon Tay's Stand Alone, Kelvin Tan's All Broken Up and Dancing, Catherine Lim's The Women's Book of Superlatives and Alex Soh's Double on the Rocks are all works of fiction which deserve special attention- in them a certain literary quality is obvious, as is the treatment of significant themes which transcend simple grids of time and place. Koh Buck Song's A Brief History of Toa Payoh and Other Poems should be mentioned as it tries to document, poetically, the radical nature of physical change in Singapore - a change impinging on the psyche of the sensitive. Boey Kim Cheng's Another Place, his second volume, continues and expands the obvious strengths found in his first volume of poems, Somewhere Bound. Boey's is an important poetic voice and he is a poet to watch. A survey of this nature will be incomplete if attention was not drawn to the establish­ ment of the Singapore Literature Prize- funded by a publisher and administered by the National Book Development Council. It carries a top prize of $10,000 and several minor prizes. The Annual National Book Awards has, recently, been challenged to name their judges- a call which the present writer has been consistently making since their incep­ tion many years ago. Anonymity in judging is no longer seen to be excusable and with controversies surrounding the latest awards (the Award went to Rex Shelley and Gopal Baratham was awarded a Commendation- Baratham declined the Award insisting that his novel ought to have won!) the sooner the Book Council announces publicly its annual judges the better. On the whole things are really looking up in Singapore; there is heightened scholarly interest in Singaporean literature (though we still await the first real study of it!) and creative writing is actively being promoted with several Creative Writing Programmes in the offing. These programmes allow the bringing in of international writers to Singa­ pore to share their experiences and achievements. Doris Lessing was in Singapore in 1991 and it is hoped that Nadine Gordimer will be here in 1993. Publishers are now far more willing to publish local books and many of the big international publishers are also moving into the area. Singa continues to publish established and new writers and public readings of prose and poetry are encouraged and well attended. For the first time in Singapore's history, there was a series of readings at a pub co-ordinated by Kirpal Singh- every Sunday for three months the readings continued- unfortunately the for­ tunes of the owner of the pub got into complications and the readings ended quite abruptly! But there is a definite interest and a definite future here! It is likely that as Singapore matures and as the ruling ethnic demands a more serious stocktaking, the arts are going to flourish. Moves are currently underway to have all Singapore schools expose their students to Singaporean writings. There is full support coming from many different quarters and it will behove the Singaporean writer to real­ ise the new emphasis and be ready for delivery! KlRPAL SINGH 102 --------------------------------------- Notes on Contributors NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS GOROON COLLIER teaches at the University of Giessen. GEOFFREY DAVIS teaches at the University of Aachen. JANE DOWNING was born in Australia and was brought up and educated in Aus­ tralia, Tanzania, Ireland and Polynesia. She is now living in the Marshall Islands. She has completed two novels and one collection of short stories. GEOFF GOODFELLOW -see interview. STEPHEN GRAY is a South African poet, critic and novelist. Formerly Professor at Rand Afrikaans University he now freelances. His latest volume of poetry, Season of Violence, was recently published by Dangaroo Press. PAUL HETHERINGTON is an Australian poet living in Canberra. KWAKU LARBI KORANG is Ghanaian and is doing post-graduate work at the Univer­ sity of British Columbia. DAVID LEAHY is a post-graduate student at Concordia University, Quebec, Canada. MARK MAHEMOFF is an Australian poet living in Sydney. JOHN STEPHEN MARTIN teaches in the Department of English, University of Calgary, Canada. CAROL SICHERMAN teaches at Lehman College, New York. KIRPAL SINGH teaches at Nan Yang University, Singapore. KANCHANA UGBABE was born in India. She received her doctorate from Flinders University, Australia, and now teaches at the University of Jos, Nigeria. She is married to a Nigerian. Her writing explores the difference in cultures and the difficulties such differences sometimes create. LANDEG WHITE is the head of the Centre for Southern Asian Studies, University of York. His latest book of poetry, View from the Stockade, received much acclaim. His long prose poem Bounty will be published by Dangaroo Press in October 1993. 1. To Thomas Archer, Nov 1888 , The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson , ed. Sidney Colvin (London: Methuen , 4 vols ., 1919 ), Vol. In, pp. 78 - 9 . 2. To Sidney Colvin, 22 Aug 1889 , Letters , Vol. Ill, pp. 133 - 38 . 3. To Lady Taylor, 20 Jan 1890 , Letters , Vol. Ill, pp. 148 - 50 . 4. Sidney Colvin , commentary, Letters , Vol. Til, pp. 187 - 90 ; see letter to Colvin, 5 Sep 1891, Letters , Vol. III, pp. 282 - 91 , and Robert Irwin Hillier, The South Seas fiction of Robert Louis Stevenson (New York & Bern: Peter Lang, 1989 ), p. 27 . 5. Hillier, op. cit., p. 28 . 6. Ibid ., pp. 41 - 5 . 7. Ibid ., p. 196 . 8. To Charles Milnes Gaskell, 13 Apr 1890 , The Letters of Henry Adams, ed. J. C. Levenson eta/ (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 3 vols ., 1982 ), Vol. Ill, p. 235 . 9. To Elizabeth Cameron, 17 Oct 1890 , Letters , Vol. III, p. 296 . Elizabeth Cameron was the young wife of an elderly senior Senator from Pennsylvania with whom Adams maintained a somewhat courtly relationship . 10. 2 Mar 1891 , Letters , Vol. III, pp. 430 - 1 . John Hay was one of Adams' most intimate friends and became Secretary of State under Theodore Roosevelt . II. Ibid ., p. 432 . 12. To Elizabeth Cameron, 16 Oct 1890 , Letters , Vol. TIT, p. 296 . Frances Van de Grift Stevenson was an American of Swedish and Dutch extraction; see Levenson, ibid ., Vol. rn, p. 300 . 13. 16 Oct 1890, Letters , Vol. HI, p. 297 . 14. To Elizabeth Cameron, 15 Dec 1890 , Letters , Vol. In, p. 372 . 15. 20? Dec 1890, Letters , Vol. In, p. 225 . 16. 29 Dec 1890 , Letters , Vol. lll, p. 229 . 17. 4 Jan 1891 , Letters , Vol. Ill, p. 394 . 18. 8 Nov [ 1890 ), Letters, Vol. Til, p. 329 ; 27 Nov 1890 , Letters , Vol. lll, p. 352 . 19. To Elizabeth Cameron, 15 Dec 1890 , Letters , Vol. III, p. 372 . 20. 4 Jan 1891 , Letters , Vol. lll, p . 392 . 21. 16 Oct 1890, Letters , Vol. III, p. 304 . 22. 4 jan 1891 , Letters , Vol. Ill, p. 392 . 23. La Farge also suffered from dyspepsia, as did a young friend, Theodore Dwight, who also had attacks of depression when visiting Adams in Polynesia; see Letters , Vol. lll, pp. 223 - 34 , 228 , 311 , 312 , 331 , 358 , 390 , 581 - 2 . 24. Adams read Melville's Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life on his way to Samoa, and said that it sustained him on the voyage; to Elizabeth Cameron, 13 Sep 1890 , Letters , Vol. III, p. 277 . ' Nukuheva' is the isle on which the Typee valley is located. The term 'old-gold girls' or 'maiads' was the erotic term coined by Adams' intimate friend, the geologist Clarence King, who, on his visit to Hawaii in 1872, gave it to young native women; see Letters , Vol. Til, pp. 277 , 282 , 283 , 291 . 25. jay Levenson, commentary, Letters, op. cit. , Vol. I, pp. 426 , 440 . 26. 3 Mar 1891 , Letters , Vol. lll, p. 442 . 'tl . See also Adams to John Hay, 7 Dec 1890, Letters , Vol. III, pp. 362 - 65 . 28. Aspects of these questions, addressed by Adams, are given in his Letters , Vol. III: on Samoa, pp. 293 , 295 , 301 , 302 , 363 , 364 , 377; on Tahiti, pp. 405 , 412 , 417 , 418 , 429 , 443 - 5 , 455 , 459 , 472; on Fiji, pp. 506 , 509 , 514 . In general, Adams tried to formalize a cycle of civilization among the Polynesians with the order of Samoans, Tahitians, and Fijians; but there were too many inconsistencies, such as, whether a war-culture precedes that of a civilized one, keeping in mind that the Samoans produced their poetry in their earlier war-like era . 29. To Elizabeth Cameron, 8 Mar 1891, Letters , Vol. Ill, pp. 425 - 6 . ll. Henry Adams , Tahiti: Memoirs of Marau Taaroa, lAst Queen of Tahiti (Paris, 1901 ). 31. To Elizabeth Cameron, 23 Feb 1891 , Letters , Vol. III, pp. 417 - 8 . vol. 2 , ed. Janet Stemburg [NY and London: Norton , 1991 ], p. 38 ). Textual references are to Bharati Mukherjee, Darkness (Markham , Ontario: Penguin Books Canada, 1985 ), p. 195 . All other references are included in the text . Although placed last in Darkness, 'Courtly Vision' was written earlier than most of the stories, while Mukherjee was still living in Canada (Darkness, 'Introduction' , p. 1 ). 2. Michael Riffaterre , 'Textuality: W.H. Auden's "Musee des Beaux Arts'" , in Textual Analysis: Some Readers Reading, ed. Mary Ann Caws (NY: Modem Language Association , 1986 ), p. 2 . 3. Salman Rushdie , Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981 -1991 (London: Granta Books, 1991 ), p. 17 . 4. Op. cit.; repeated virtually verbatim in Rushdie's Shame ( 1983 ; NY: Aventura [Vintage], 1984 ), p. 24 . 5. Rushdie, qtd. by Michael Kaufman, ' Author from 3 Countries' , New York Times Book Review, 13 Nov. 1983 , p. 23 . 6. Mukherjee has written approvingly of Rushdie's concept 'that immigration ... is a net gain, a form of levitation, as opposed to Naipaul's loss and mimicry' ('Prophet and Loss: Salman Rushdie's Migration of Souls' , Village Voice Literary Supplement [March 1989 ], p. 12 ). 7. Rejecting Naipaul as a model, Mukherjee asserts: 'Immigration is the opposite of expatriation' ('Immigrant Writing: Give Us Your Maximalists!' , New York Times Book Review [ 28 Aug. 1988 ], p . 28 ) ; see also Alison B . Carb, ' An Interview with Bharati Mukherjee' , Massachusetts Review, 29 , 4 ( 1988 ), p. 650 . The misreading of Mukherjee's Introduction to Darkness by Amin Malak - who thinks she continues to be Naipaul's 'disciple'- typifies the hostile misreading of Mukherjee by Indian intellectual men who have settled in Canada ('Insider/Outsider Views on Belonging: The Short Stories of Bharati Mukherjee and Rohinton Mistry', in Short Fiction in the New Literatures in English: Proceedings ofthe Nice Conference of the Europeiln Association for Commonwealth Literature & Language Studies, ed. jaqueline Bardolph [Nice: Faculte des Lettres et Sciences Humaines de Nice , 1989 ], pp. 189 , 192 ). See also Neil Bissoondath, ' Flaws in the Mosaic' , Books in Canada 14 (Aug . 1985 ), p . 22 . 8. Bharati Mukherjee , jasmine ( 1989 ; NY: Ballantine Books, 1991 ), p. 198 . All other references are included in the text . 9. Bharati Mukherjee and Clark Blaise, Days and Nights in Calcutta (Garden City , NY: Doubleday, 1977 ), p. 200 . All other references are included in the text . 10. Bharati Mukherjee , 'Immigrant Writing', op. cit., p. 29 . II. Ameena Meer , 'Shorts: Bharati Mukherjee', Bomb 29 ( Fal11989 ), p. 26 . Mukherjee 's most recent and emphatic statement of this idea appears in 'A Four-Hundred-YearOld Woman' , op. cit., p . 34 . 12. Bharati Mukherjee , et al., 'Writers' Panel', in E.M. Forster: Centenary Revaluations, ed. Judith Scherer Herz and Robert K. Martin (London and Basingstoke: Macmillan , 1982 ), p. 291 . 13. ' Mimicry and Reinvention', in The Commonwealth in Ca11ada: Proceedi11gs of the Seco11d Triennial Conferences of CACLALS, Part Two , University of Winnipeg 1-4 October 1981 , ed. Uma Parameswaram (New Delhi: Writers Workshop, 1983 ), p. 147 ; Mukherjee delivered this paper after she had left Canada. Three years later she experienced the 'three-month burst of energy' in Atlanta during which she wrote most of Darkness ('Introduction' , p. 1 ). 14. Mukherjee , ' An Invisible Woman' , Saturday Night (March 1981 ), pp. 36 - 40 . 15. 'Mimicry and Reinvention', op. cit., p . 147 . 16. NY: Grove P , 1988 . 17. Bharati Mukherjee , ' A Four-Hundred-Year-Old Woman ', op. cit., p. 38 . 19. Sotheby 's did indeed auction the Malcolm Fraser collection in 1980 in three lots , in London on july 7-8 and October 13 -14, and in New York on December 9; Leela must have made her visit during the New York public exhibition on Dec. 4-8. The painting depicted in 'Courtly Vision' is not, however, in the New York Sotheby's sale, though one can imagine it in the London sales. The july sale in London included a painting (Lot 84) depicting 'a ruler on horseback leading an army across a battlefield, warriors firing arrows and brandishing swords and maces as a decapitated soldier falls from his horse' (Catalogue of Fin e Oriental Manuscripts, MiniaturtS and Qajar Lacquer ... The Property of Malcolm R. Fraser ...) . Lot 240 in the London October sale is in a class with Mukherjee's painting (Catalogue of Fine Oriental Manuscripts, Miniatures and Qajar Lacquer ... the Property of Malcolm R. Fraser Esq. and Otlrtr Properties) . The Dec . 9 New York sale included a painting somewhat similar to Mukherjee's, lot 10: 'A Procession of Figures Moving to the Right , Mughal, circa 1590 -1600' (Fine Oriental Miniatures, Manuscripts and Islamic Works of Art Including the Fraser Album); its estimated price was $3000-$5000 (it sold for $4600); Mukherjee's eye for detail was clouded when she provided an estimated price of $750. 20. Mukherjee 's Jahanara Begum is apparently a resident of Akbar's harem, which one European visitor claimed housed 'more than 300 wives', another 'as many as a hundred women' (qtd. Brand and Lowry, Fatehpur-Sikri, op . cit. pp. 105 - 06 ). Akbar had a granddaughter named Jahanara, the daughter of his son Shah Jehan and MumtazMahal . 21. See Brand and Lowry, Akbar's India, op . cit., p. 159 . Akbar 's successors continued to use the palace complex occasionally until at least the middle of the seventeenth century and 'a considerable portion of Akbar's haram [sic) remained ... long after 1585' (Brand and Lowry, Fatehpur-Sikri, op . cit. pp. 3 - 4 ). 22. Akbar 's letter , in john Correia-Afonso, ed., Letters from the Mughal Court: The First Jesuit Mission to Akbar ( 1580 - 1583 ), Foreword by S. Guru! Hasan (Bombay: Hens Institute of Indian History and Culture, 1980 ), p. 1 . Fathers Rudolf Aquaviva aoo Francis Henriques arrived at Akbar's court from their base in Goa on 28 Feb. 15m, soon joined by Father Anthony Monserrate; the mission ended in Feb . 1583 ( Correia-Afonso , pp. 9 - 10 , 123 ). The battle for which Akbar is leaving might be one in his 1580-81 war against his half-brother, whom he defeated at Kabul in 1581 (Correia-Afonso , p. 93 ; Brand and Lowry, Akbar's India, op . cit., 'Chronology ci Important Historical and Artistic Events' , pp. 158 - 59 - this chronology is the source for other dates I mention) . Fr . Monserrate was part of Akbar's entourage in the final expedition of this war (Correia-Afonso , pp. 96 - 97 ). 23. See frontispiece in Brand and Lowry, Akbar's India, op . cit. 24. The first painting by a Mughal artist to show the influence of Christian art is dated ca. 1580, the same year that the Jesuits presented Akbar with several examples (Welch, India: Art and Culture, op . cit., p. 164 ). Basawan's painting of the subject is dated 1590-1600; see Brand and Lowry, Akbar's India, op . cit., p. 102 ( plate 66). Akbar's enthusiasm over Christian religious art is a frequent theme of the Jesuits' letters (Correia-Afonso, op . cit., pp. 31 , 33 - 34 , 48 - 49 , 58 - 60 ). As for 'dogg[ing] the emperor', Akbar ordered Fathers Monserrate and Aquaviva to accompany him on military campaigns, an experience made more difficult by illness 'alone in a Muslim country, without physician or medicines' (Aquaviva, letter dated 25 April 1582 , in Correia-Afonso, p. 101 ). 25. Mukherjee , Days and Nights, op. cit., p. 286 . 26. Dr . Patel and his family do , however, appear in two stories, 'Nostalgia' and 'Saints'. 27. David Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses: Visions of the Divine Feminine in the Hindu Religious Tradition (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986 ), p. 117 . 28. The eponymous heroine of jasmine also becomes Kali when she murders her rapist (p. 106 ). Kinsley notes that later Hinduism modified Kali's terrible aspect to some extent, so that she became 'not only the symbol of death but the symbol of triumph over death' (op . cit., pp. 124 , 118 , 125). 29. Cornelia Dimmitt and J. A. B. van Buitenen, ed. and trans., Classical Hindu Mythology: A Reader in the Sanskrit Puranas (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1978 ), p. 225 . 30 Kinsley suggests that 'Kali may be one way in which the Hindu tradition has sought to come to terms ... with the built-in shortcomings of its own refined view of the world ... by reminding Hindus that certain aspects of reality are untamable, unpurifiable, unpredictable, and always a threat to society's feeble attempts to order what is essentially disorderly: life itself' (op . cit., p. 129 ). 31. Anon ., Life of Sri Ramakrishna Compiled from Various Authentic Sources , 2nd ed. ( 1928 ; Calcutta: Advaita Ashrama, 1964 ), p. 66 . 32. Mukherjee , qtd. Michael Connell , Jessie Crearson , and Tom Crimes, ' An Interview with Bharati Mukherjee' , Iowa Review 20 , 3 ( 1990 ), p. 21 . 33. James A. Kirk, Stories of the Hindus: An Introduction through Texts and Interpretation (NY: Macmillan, 1972 ), p. 224 . In some traditions, however, Kali is a consort of Shiva (Kinsley, Hindu Goddesses, op . cit., pp. 119 - 22 ). 34. Roshni Rustomji- Kerns notes the tendency of Mukherjee's 'fellow South Asian immigrants', who see themselves as 'successful citizens of America', to dismiss such scenes of violence in Mukherjee's work as 'only well-written South Asian American gothic'; Rustomji-Kerns herself implies that Mukherjee has provided 'a voice to speak of the immigrant experience' ('Expatriates, Immigrants and Literature: Three South Asian Women Writers' , Massachusetts Review 29 , 4 [1988], p. 659 ). 35. Qtd . Kinsley, op. cit., p. 127 . 36. Kinsley , op. cit., p. 130 . 37. Mukherjee used the term to describe her own relation to English in 'Mimicry and Reinvention', op . cit., p. 147 . Soon after, however, she dropped any claim to linguistic alienation (Carb, 'Interview with Bharati Mukherjee', op . cit., p. 649 ). 38. Mukherjee , ' An Invisible Woman', op . cit., p. 38 . 39. Ramakrishna describes himself 'writhing in anguish of heart[,] cry[ing] at the top of my voice, 'Come, my boys! ...' A mother never longs so intensely for the sight


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