Loading

Module 1: Great Literary Works and Great Historical Moments

Notes
Study Reminders
Support
Text Version

From the United States to Pakistan

Set your study reminders

We will email you at these times to remind you to study.
  • Monday

    -

    7am

    +

    Tuesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Wednesday

    -

    7am

    +

    Thursday

    -

    7am

    +

    Friday

    -

    7am

    +

    Saturday

    -

    7am

    +

    Sunday

    -

    7am

    +

Good morning everyone, I’m happy to welcome you to today’s session where we read this short story the yellow wallpaper written by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. This is a brief description of this short story. We have this lead female character who is depressed at the beginning of the story. We find her being all the more repressed through the various systems within which she is caught and towards the end we find her sinking deeper into an obsessive status where depression becomes almost like insanity for her. (Refer Slide Time: 0:53) Reading the story one can find close parallels with the author Charlotte Perkins Gilman. In her own words only as we live, think, feel, and work outside the home, do we become humanly developed, civilized and socialized. This in that sense as Gilman points out rightfully can be seen as one such story which is advocating the need to bring women outside of the home space. About the need to bring women out of the home space to make them more developed, civilized and socialized and the repercussions of not doing so. The yellow wallpaper has been seen increasingly as a criticism of our culture that undermines right to intellectual freedom and intellectual development as we would begin to see the unnamed narrator in this story. The woman who is caught within the domestic space for various reasons. Her intellectual freedom and her intellectual development are curbed by the well-meaning members of the family. The yellow wallpaper as a short story it was first published in January 1892 and this was written just before her 2nd marriage to Houghton Gilman. The first marriage had failed and she was separated from her husband and this story, however, was revived only in the earlyThe 1970s where rediscovery of lost works such as Gilman’s yellow wallpaper Kate Chopin’s the awakening. Susan Glaspell's A jury of her peers, yes those words were revived only in the 1970s and yellow wallpaper also in that sense owes much to the feminist awakening and the feminist rediscovery of lost works and orders. This story is written in the form of a collection of journal entries written by a woman. It can be read as a critique of the rest cure to which the author Gilman herself was subjected to during her life after her pregnancy and childbirth. It can also be seen as semiautobiographical in that sense. (Refer Slide Time: 3:03) Charlotte Perkins Gilman lived from 1860 to 1935. She was a well-known American feminist writer. She had suffered serious postpartum depression and this was during an age in the 19th century which saw women as hysterical and nervous beings. So even when women complained about any difficulties, any pressures or anything just that they felt in their mind or their body it was not taken seriously. Because they were seen as beings who are inherently hysterical and nervous and this was bound to happen. Gilman had a very radical life due to the personal choices that she made. She separated from her husband in 1888 that was also a rare occurrence in the 19th century. Divorce was not a known thing then. Divorce was not an accepted thing then and nevertheless, she led a very life writing, travelling and delivering public speeches and making people aware of the need for various social gender-related, racial issues and economic issues. She was someone who spoke prolifically and wrote extensively about a range of things which concerned society during that time. The fact that she was a woman did come across as a challenge but we do find her breaking out of those many shackles and leaving a mark of her home. By the ending of her life comes across is being a little disappointing as she committed suicide in the year 1935 on being diagnostic with a form of incurable cancer. As she mentioned in the death note that she left, he chose chloroform over cancer but the sudden strong willingness of her certain stubbornness of herself comes through even though even in her death. (Refer Slide Time: 5:00) This is a story the yellow wallpaper is a story which has attracted a lot of critical interest and discussion ever since it was published by the feminist press. In 1992 Catherine Golden published this work “The Captive Imagination A casebook on The Yellow Wallpaper” to commemorate the 100 years of reading the yellow wallpaper. This is a story which has been anthologized in numerous collections and different kinds of readings are available about it. Even recent paper published by Susan Lanza in the year 1989 where she talks about the politics of colour in America and critiques the presentation of the yellow wallpaper as a typical white story and as a representative fiction for feminist writing. So in these 100 years, it has received a lot of critical attention and has also begun to receive some kind of resistance in the canonical status that the yellow wallpaper has now come to assume. (Refer Slide Time: 6:09) Gilman herself has written about “why she wrote the yellow wallpaper”. In her own words, it was in drive people crazy but to save people from being driven crazy and it worked. In an extensive note that she left which was also published in this commemorate anthology of the readings of the yellow wallpaper. She tells us the story of, the story the yellow wallpaper. I read to you a brief excerpt from Gilman’s short piece “why I wrote the yellow wallpaper”. For many years I suffer from a severe continuous nervous breakdown tending to melancholy and beyond. During about the 3rd year of this trouble, I went devout faith and some faint stir of hope, to a noted specialist in nervous diseases, the best-known in the country. This wise man put me to bed and applied the rest cure, to which a still good physique responded so promptly that he concluded there was nothing much the matter with me. And sent me home with solemn advice to live as domestic a life as far as possible to have but 2 hours intellectual life a day and never to touch pen, brush or pencil again as long as I live. This was in in 1887. I went home and obeyed those directions for some three months and came so near the borderline of utter mental ruin that I could see over. Then using the remnants of intelligence that remained and helped by a wise friend, I cast the noted specialist’s advice to the winds and went to work again. Work, the normal life of every human being, work in which is joy and growth and service without which one is a pauper and a parasite ultimately recovering is a measure of power. So this is a context in which Gilman had to write the yellow wallpaper. It is semiautobiographical, it is also a critique of this rest cure which almost drove her crazy. (Refer Slide Time: 8:18) This story had received mixed critical reception and initially when this story was looking fora publisher. It is said that the editor of the Atlantic monthly had rejected it because the editor read it and said “I could not forgive myself if I made others as miserable as I have made myself. It was not seen as a story which would encourage on the contrary it was seen as a story that the graphic details and almost gross ending it was it was expected that it will make people very very miserable. And another editor William Deane Howells when he reprinted Gilman’s story in 1920, he also had written about it “being terrible and too wholly dire and too good to be printed”. So the responses are varying from 2 different ends of the spectrum and one of the readers when it was first published, an anonymous reader he is also said to have written to the editors and the publishers asking for some kind of censure over this work. This is what it read “the story could hardly, it would seem, give pleasure to any reader, and too many whose lives have been touched through the dearest ties by this dread disease. It must bring the keenest pain. To others whose lives have become a struggle against heredity of mental derangement, such literature contains deadly peril. Should such stories be allowed to pass without severest censure? So this is a work which outlived and also has to fight with such difficult reviews and challenges. (Refer Slide Time: 10:04) But there have been other views more recent ones which an impressive account of why women who live monotonous life are susceptible to mental illness and now reading the story along with the notes shared by the author herself it makes a lot of sense. And it also said that this gives a perspective on major issues of gender with which we still grapple and it is a story which enables us to look at the origin of women’s subjugation. About the Central rule of work as a definition of self that gives us new strategies for rearing and educating future generations, yes. Especially women to create a humane and nurturing environment. So these are many the many enabling and promising factors as far as this story is concerned. (Refer Slide Time: 10:50) The narrator of the story is a nameless woman and we find her transition from being a hesitant writer to a reader of the wallpaper and the inability to write the lack of permission to pursue what she likes the most to write her journal, to articulate her feelings that almost drives her to the point of being mad. And the story celebrates this need to get out of confinement. And we find the narrator this nameless woman being determined to solve the wallpaper pattern as confusing as it sounds the story is about if you try to break it down to certain plot elements the story is about this woman trying to make sense of a wallpaper which is there in this room where she is confined when she is not allowed to do anything else constructive and how that also accentuates her journey into complete madness and complete absurdity. Let’s try and go through this story very quickly focusing on some of the important elements which will be helpful for your understanding and reading. At the outset of the story, we get to know that the narrator along with the character John who is we get to know her husband they ave rented out an ancestral hall for the summer. It’s a colonial mansion, it’s the hereditary estate. We also get to know about the kind social class to which this family belongs to which this nameless narrator belongs that they can afford such a summer residence. And in the beginning as if in the first page of the story itself we get a sense of how this woman is never taken seriously. How her complaints and her opinions are never taken seriously that is the statement which comes on the first page. John laughs at me of course but one expects that in a marriage. It also tells us about the state of marriage within which she is now where she is certainly married to a good man who is kind enough to take her to a summer residence to allow her to spend the summer recovering there but we also get to know that there are certain inconveniences in this marriage which will begin to unsettle her further. And in the beginning, we also get to know about the kind of profession that this husband has John is a physician that makes him all the more qualified to pronounce judgment on the mental or physical state that this woman is. (Refer Slide Time 13:20) And we get to know that her brother is also a physician and that she disagrees with their ideas and personal beliefs are entirely different but there is helplessness but what is one to do? Because she’s not allowed to do anything on her own. She cannot make any decisions on her own. She is under confinement and a room which has been allotted to her where she is in confinement. Where her family is taking care of her does not like that room a bit but she also finds it difficult to articulate. This dislike because she is in the midst family where they all love her and we find love and care being presented as things which are not making things easier for this woman. Love and care come across this being an extension of the patriarchal device which is used to further suppress her and further repress her desires. And when you read through the story we get to know that she is also not allowed to write. At the end of the first section, she says “there comes John I must put this away-he hates to have me write a word” and we also get to know that this channel through which she is communicating to us the diary or the journal that she is maintaining that is not acceptable to her family because they think that is also one of the causes for her depression and for the state of being that she is in now. We have given brief insights into the timeframe. We get to know at the beginning of the 2nd section that they have been there for about 2 weeks. And she talks about her increasing displeasure being confined and there are many thoughts that she continues to share with us. I encourage you to read that on your own. (Refer Slide Time: 15:15) And there is also another figure here which you can see in Page 650 which is John’s sister. Such a dear girl as she is and so careful of me, she also must not find this woman writing and writing is something which is a taboo thing for our narrator. And see the way this section ends there is the sister on the stairs. Yes, so we are almost privy to the thoughts and the emotions that a narrator is feeling as and when she is writing she can hear the sister coming up the stairs and see suddenly stops writing we get to know and the next session begins after the 4 July which is the celebration of the American Independence Day. (Refer Slide Time: 16:02) And we get to know that they have visitors but the narrator is not allowed to do anything. Yes, in the first section John thought it might do me good to see a little company, so we just had mother and Nelly and the children down for a week. Of course, I didn’t do a thing. Jenny sees to everything now. So here is a woman who is not allowed to write, who is not allowed to participate in any of the activities at home, she has been asked to take a rest and it is rest cure that she is subjecting it to in the form of treatment and she’s not allowed to do anything constructive or creative or even not allowed help others in the family and this becomes all the more difficult and depressing for this woman. And as the story progresses we get to know that left with nothing else to do she gets obsessively interested in the wallpaper which is there in this room where she is confined, she gets interested, she initially does not like the room because of the wallpaper because it looks very eerie but now she gets all the more interested in it and she feels that she likes the room because of the wallpaper. (Refer Slide Time: 17:07) And we find a fairly long segment in Page 651 where she continues to talk about the wallpaper almost to the point of an obsession and from this time onwards we find this story taking a different turn and a different twist altogether. We find the character getting increasingly obsessed where the idea of the wallpaper and she begins to imagine that there are women initially she thinks the just one woman who is caught within that wallpaper. Then she imagines that multiple women are caught within the wallpaper and they need to be rescued she begins to tear the wallpaper down in this attempt to help them out and we also get to know the period towards the end that they have by now spent almost 3 months which is quite similar to the time that the author Gilman also had spent at confinement as part of the rest cure treatment and on the last day things completely go out of control the last day when they were supposed to leave this summerhouse. We find that this nameless narrator her fall into the realms of insanity is almost complete. And when the husband comes back home, when John comes back home to take her she had locked herself within this room which she never liked initially where she is imagining that women are caught within the wallpaper and she imagines them coming out and creeping on the floor and she also begins to creep on the floor. Good morning and welcome to today’s session, today we discuss the short story by Saadat Hasan Manto the title Toba Tek Singh, Saadat Hasan Manto lived from 1912 till 1955 he was born in Punjab in British India and he and his family move to Pakistan after partition that was in January 1948, there was a particular incident which triggered this movement from India to Pakistan he have initially decide to stay back in India even when he was facing the aftermath of partition the tragic violent of our partition but when one evening one of his Hindu friends remarked that had Manto not been a close friend of his he would have already killed him and this had prompted Manto to consider migrating to Pakistan though it was entirely against his will and this choice of migration and shifting identities thereby that he had to occupy it can be found at the center of most of Manto’s works, Manto wrote mostly and over though the works that we access today are mostly the form translation but he was very well versed in many languages during his younger days Manto is said to have translated various stories written in Russian French and English and the translations were made into Urdu to make them available in the language that he was also familiar with. To his credit, Manto has 22 collections of short stories long novel 5 collections of radio plays he was a very famous and well-versed scriptwriter there are 3 essay collections he was a journalist too and there are two collections of personal sketches he used to continuously write in a newspaper columns it is said that Manto’s work he was got a prophetic nature to it as in his journalistic bright he had already predicted the rise of Islamic fundamentalism Pakistan and he also had worked with all India radio which had ensured a lot of fame and reputation for him, Manto today is best known for his stories about partition. Manto was one of those people who found the event of partition maddeningly senseless he found it very difficult to exercise choice, the choice that he exercised was out of sheer compulsion than out of any personal conviction Manto is now considered in the field of literature as the greatest chronicler of this most savage episode in the region’s history because we do not have too many writers documenting this event of partition and Manto was considered as the best of those storytellers who have recreated that horror and the tragedy of partition Manto was a successful scriptwriter for movies before he moved from Bombay to Lahore and it is said that he would have perhaps had a thriving career in Bollywood had he not chosen to move to Pakistan. (Refer Slide Time: 03:10) Manto had throughout lived a radical life he was a member of the Indian Progressive Writer’s association he had leftist socialist-leaning as his political affiliation were very-very clear he had also written provocative stories for which he was also tried to obscenity six times 3 time in India and 3 times in Pakistan but he was never convicted and he argued that if you find my stories dirty the society you are living in is dirty. With my stories, I only expose the truth he did not have any obscene word in his dictionary in his understanding he was only writing and representing the kind of things which he was witnessing in around his society. He wrote about who do not otherwise qualify to be a protagonist or hero or heroine about drunkard about the mentally ill about the prostitutes and Ayesha Jalal’s the pity of partition, Ayesha Jalal also happened to be his grandniece she remarks whether he was writing about prostitute pimps or criminals Manto wanted to impress upon this readers that these disreputable people were also human much more than those who cloaked their feeling in a thick veil of hypocrisy one of his aimed you may begin to notice that that was to expose a hollowness of the middle class we find that coming through this very punching critique coming through most of his works he was an alcoholic and he also lost his life to liver cirrhosis at a very young age of 42. (Refer Slide Time: 04:44) In 2016 an article appeared in the guardian which argued that Manto anticipated where Pakistan would go so today when we ready his stories we also begin to see that there is certainly a graphic and prophetic quality to most of his writers. (Refer Slide Time: 05:02) Manto wrote prolifically some of his major words include Bu translated as odour, Khol does which means open it, Thanda Gohst meaning Cold Meat, Manto - Stories of Manto, Dhuan - Smoke, Afsane our Dramey - Fiction and Drama, Bagahir Ijazat - Without Permission, Burquey, Phunduney - Tassles, and what translated as behind the reeds, And finally Shaiytan which is translated as Satan. (Refer Slide Time: 05:31) Manto as I mentioned he was tried for obscenity of six times, so his stories were generally not considered super-light or descent and most of his plots his references they were found to be very vulgar and obscene and we would t a look at a couple of his stories to see why they were seen obscene during that time, though those where the kind of things that were happening Manto was really documenting and representing them in an affectional form they did find it indecent and obscene because those were not the kind of things of people would talk about in public. But translated as smell it was about a sexual encounter between a prostitute and a rich young man who is intoxicated by the smell of her armpits this kind of details it really outraged the public my name is Radha is about a male character who is raped by women, Thanda Gohst translated as cold meat it is about a Sikh man who returns home and he is stabbed by his wife during intercourse because he confesses to raping a corpse. He is documenting Manto is documenting the hard reality which was happening in the aftermath of partition and also trying to present it without sugarcoating it without trying to cover it up with some kind of decent discourse he is very raw and his plots are very suggestive and it is no wonder that it was extremely unpalatable to the audience of those time and even today many critics argue that Manto would have perhaps struggled all the more to find a published had he been publishing and writing today. (Refer Slide Time: 07:24) Manto radical and erratic in multiple ways he wrote his own epitaph it read like this here lies Saadat Hasan Manto and with him lie buried all the secrets and mysteries of the art of storytelling under mounds of earth he lies still wondering who among the two is the greater story writer – God or he here we find Manto equating himself with God he is one scriptwriter Manto himself is one scriptwriter and God being another one but his sister later replaced this epitaph with another one because she thought that in that society the artist equating himself to a God may invite for the trouble the epitaph. Which is currently there in his burial place reads like this here lies buried Manto who still believes that he was not the final word on the face of the earth, but still, we see that Manto somehow manages to have the final word when it comes to the narrative about partitions it is difficult to say the things that he is articulating and he is representing through his stories. (Refer Slide Time: 08:26) The most of Manto’s writings and the short story that we are looking at today Toba Tek Singh it will fall under this category, now known as partition writing so partition literature it is a kind of literature based on or inspired by the event of partition and its aftermath which was definitely tragic and horror-stricken the event of partition refers to the partitioning of colonial India and Pakistan the division was made along religious lines based on whether they were dominantly Muslims or Hindus. And this is even today considered as one of the largest and most rapid population exchange in human history what the partition literature the writers who write about the partition what they seek to do to recreate the horror the rage and the helplessness which people were facing irrespective of their religious loyalties irrespective of the religious identities and label they that they bore and this recreation this narration happens from victims of eyewitnesses some are recreated from memory some use historical accounts and give a fictional framework to it so there are different kind of partition literature that we can find though there are not too many writers who wrote about partition. Some of the recurrent themes in partition literature massacres, forced migration, displacement, exile, violence, rape, murder, refugee crises, riots, abduction forced suicide and all of these had happened in an unimaginable scale which is what made this event of partition very distinct from all the other kind of riot and all other kinds of violence that this sub-continent had witnessed some of the other important works which are classified as partition literature are Khushwant Singh train to Pakistan Bapsi Sidhwa’s Ice-candy man was also made into Hindi movie titled 1947 earth. (Refer Slide Time: 10:32) Now we come to look at the short story that we propose to discuss today Toba Tek Singh it was published in 1955 it’s considered as a dark comedy which is black humour it is a political satire it was originally written in Urdu and now it is translated into various languages incidentally this is the only work from regional literature which made it into Rushdie’s vintage of the book of Indian writing of the last of 50 years and according to him according to editors Salman Rushdie and Elizabeth west Toba Tek Singh was the only work in translation which made the final cut so that is the kind of distinction the Toba Tek Singh enjoys in terms of Indian writing in English Indian literature in translation and even world literature. The context of Toba Tek Singh is right after partition the story begins by telling us that this happens the ee years after partition it is set in Lunatic asylum in Lahore and the story is about the exchange of lunatics there are Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs and Anglo Indians in this asylum where this story is set and this story and the story is about the government’s move to exchange the population based on their religion sending the Muslim lunatics to Pakistan and sending the Hindu lunatics to India. So the crux of the story is the dilemma of the protagonist whose name is Bishan Singh and Bishan Singh’s dilemma is to find out where Toba Tek Singh is, Toba Tek Singh incidentally is not in a name, but the name of the village he comes from but in the story, the person and the place get merged into one, people begin to refer to him as Toba Tek Singh and Ironically to the end of this story we do not get to know where exactly Toba Tek Singh is he ends up collapsing and almost losing his life in this ‘no man’s land’ which is neither in Pakistan not in India. (Refer Slide Time: 12:39) To get a sense of how this narration progresses it would be useful to take a brief look at some of the excerpts from this story, this is a short story Toba Tek Singh this is how the narration begins, a couple of years after the partition of the country it occurred to the respective governments of India and Pakistan that inmates of a lunatic asylum, like prisoners, should also be exchanged, Muslim lunatics in India should be transferred to Pakistan and Hindu and Sikh lunatics in Pakistani asylums should be sent to India. Whether this was reasonable or an unreasonable idea is difficult to say, one thing, however, is clear, it took many conferences of important officials from the two sides to come to this decision, final details like the date of an actual exchange were carefully worked out, Muslim lunatics whose families were still residing in India were to be left undisturbed, the rest moved to the border for the exchange, the situation in Pakistan was slightly different since almost the entire population of Hindu and Sikhs had already migrated to India, the question of keeping non-Muslim Lunatics in Pakistan did not therefore arise. While it is not known what the reaction in India was, when the news reached the Lahore lunatic asylum, it immediately became the subject of heated discussions. so the tone is set for the entire story and you also get that is happening not in India presumably in Pakistan because it talks about the narrator does not know what the reaction of in India was.