Keeping plurality in play

A voice to reckon with Gopi Chand Narang

A voice to reckon with Gopi Chand Narang  

Sahitya Akademi has bestowed a fellowship on the high priest of Urdu, Gopi Chand Narang. SHAFEY KIDWAI reports

“Since we are fed on the common sense, we expect quick solutions from new literary and cultural discourses but conversely they lay emphasis on unsettling issues which were considered settled long ago; celebration of plurality is core of much of intellectual activity and it can be used to support the rights of subaltern and also to curb oppression of women,” said Professor Gopi Chand Narang while receiving Sahitya Akademi fellowship, the highest and much-admired award of National Akademi of Letters in a ceremony held at Indian Habitat Centre recently.

Narang has written more than 60 books in Urdu and Hindi that demonstrate a sharp critical insight and a deep understanding of the contemporary ideological positions and debates. His book, “Structuralism, Post-structuralism and Eastern Poetics” that won the Sahitya Akademi Award, attempts to setup a tripartite dialogue between Sanskrit poetics, Arabic-Persian poetics and structuralism. The book also explores the simultaneous guest for a universal and national identity.

Conduit language

Speaking on the occasion, Narang said the Indian cultural tradition has always admitted diversity, the play of plurality, cultural diversity, and maintained that there are more approaches than one to the realisation of the truth. This is what the post-modern argues. Though criticism has been described as a marginalised activity, it unfailingly unravels the beauty of poetry, language, and research and teaching cannot be possible without it. “My literary journey is meant for exploring the aesthetic and cultural dimension of Urdu literature. Urdu is the conduit language of interfaith harmony and has served as a bridge between Hindus, Sikhs and Muslim for centuries. Urdu, in India, is a diffused language struggling for its survival in different parts, but still alive and flourishing. It is a cultural language and in a multilingual situation where people read English for knowledge, they look more and more to Urdu for aesthetic fulfilment.”

Presenting the fellowship to him, eminent Bengali writer and President of Sahitya Akademi, Sunil Gangopadhyay, said Narang has made a seminal contribution in developing a congruous literary poetics fully alive to the aesthetic sensibility of the entire body of Indian literature.

Presenting the citation, Agarhara Krishnamurthy, Secretary, Sahitya Akademi said Narang has been on the right side of many of the substantial literary discourses of the 20th Century. “In his writing one can see that a variety of discourses expressing different ideological positions are in play without being evaluated by a totalising authorial discourse. Narang has raised his voice against parochialism, religious fanaticism and social injustice.”

Later a literary discussion on the contribution of Narang was also organised. It was presided over by noted Punjabi litterateur Satendra Sing Noor. Eminent English scholar Harish Narang (JNU), Hindi critic Vishwanath Tripathi, well-known Urdu writer Shee-Kaf-Zizam, etc discussed Narang's contribution to the advancement of scholarship and his meritorious service to the cause of Indian literature and Urdu.

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