Litterateur

7:20 am. Have been awake all night trying to make Harsha Bhogle redundant by replacing him with a computer. Gobbling on a Hershey's pure milk chocolate bar. And need to sleep for 3-4 hours to reboot myself and start attempting to steal the sports commentator's job again. What better way to relax than to vent out something that has been spinning around in my head for some time: Galdriel's tag of identifying my favourite literary characters. And the fact that I can brag about having descended from Raja Ram Mohan Roy on my mother's side and that Bibhutibhushan Bandopadhyay is my great grandfather by relation cannot be passed. :) So write a post, we shall.

Bipradas (বিপ্রদাস): To think of literary characters who have inspired and stirred me, Bipradas definitely comes on the top of the list. Sarat Chandra Chattopadhyay's novel set in the times of India's independence portrayed this man as a stellar example of reticence and self-confidence emanating from inner peace. He was a man who held on to what he believed in, and yet accepted the tides of change and the beauty of a revolution. The reason I go into such detail is that most of you perhaps haven't read the novel. But if you can read Bengali, do read it -- it is a brilliant example of what being orthodox or conservative at heart means, and how it can lend power to a rebellious spirit rather than be the enemy. Bipradas' integrity of character, his calmness in the face of turmoil, the sense of his extreme detachment and yet extreme affection have stirred me like no other.

Captain Bluntschli: George Bernard Shaw's novel, Arms and the Man, showed me what a real "guy" guy is, and how complete detachment from any situation lets one see the humour in it. "You can always tell an old soldier by the inside of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry pistols and cartridges; the old ones, grub." is a gem of quote which I often remind myself of when anyone gets romantic about soldiers and war. Someone who calls the bluff on chivalry, someone who says openly that he's afraid to die and yet isn't afraid of facing imminent death bravely -- you're the man!

Indrajeet(ইন্দ্রজিৎ): Michael Madhusudan Dutta's protagonist in his novel titled "Meghnad Badh Kabya" (The epic about the killing of Meghnad) is a rebel who for the first time in the history of Indian literature, was portrayed as the hero rather than the villain. Ravana's son is shown as the unflinching soldier who dares the petty thieves, Ram and Laxman, to come and kill him. I have read the entire epic, and it has been a very intellectually and spiritually satisfying experience. If you haven't read the book, this little snippet here will seem blasphemous. But I believe that the man who brought the sonnets to Bengali literature left a very outstanding pole star on the firmament.

Atticus Finch: The father of Scout Finch in Harper Lee's "To Kill a Mocking Bird" is a character who became a moral hero and a model of racial heroism both for America as well as me when I read the book. The book deals with the very serious issues of racism, rape and the tension between communities, and this man stands apart while doing his duty.

Sherlock Holmes: No list of my favourite literary characters can ever be complete without the mention of this man, with whom I also happen to share my sun-sign :) Although I tried to spoof his character as my own *ahem-ahem*, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's style has indeed been inimitable. Whether it be the objectivity of his analysis, the brilliance of his intellect or the sheer genius of deducing things about men by just looking at them, this man is the best! I know that the author did not always give away all the parts of the story, I know that it just happened to rain on the day of the crime when Sherlock Holmes would be called for, I know that his character is just too unbelievably adept at everything right from acting to being a polyglot: but hey, we all need someone to swear by, don't we?

Oliver Barrett: Eric Segal's Love Story is the only book ever that has brought me to tears. And this 24-year-old symbolized the helplessness of youth and humans against nature, and how even though the fairy tales tell of the perfect life between two people who are in love, not all endings are happy ones. The character became close to my heart especially after the tried to "act normal" when he had come to know that his love, Jennifer was about to die soon from leukaemia. The inner struggles, the care and dreams he showered on her, the desperation of circumstances and spirit to fight a hopeless battle -- he made falling in love special for me, and epitomized the power of human bonding: I somehow identified with and felt his emotions as I read through the book.

Update:
Marvin: Thank you, Harshdeep, for reminding me of this: it was blasphemy to omit this one! Marvin the Paranoid Android is what normal people have nightmares about. Like this one: "Marvin, how far to the destination?" ... "I have an answer, but you will not like it" :D Or the case when he picks up the gun which makes people see exactly your point of view and fires it at the Vogons, the latters' huge army get maniacally depressed and go away chanting, "Oh what is the use anyway". Oh boy... from the wikipedia article: "Marvin inadvertently saves the crew by plugging himself into the onboard computer of a police vehicle, which, when exposed to the true nature of Marvin's view of the universe, commits suicide, taking the two police who were then firing at the ship's crew with it." Hehehe.... the character was awesome!

That was emancipation... recollecting all those magical people I knew just from the winged words of literature. Passing this tag to three more people, I tag Greatbong, Shruthi and Ellie. Will definitely look forward to their posts!

Comments

  1. How could you miss Marvin the Paranoid Android?? :)

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  2. how could you miss ANY character from catch 22? my respect for you just plummeted. in the downward direction. :(

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  3. Sudipta, have you ever read Henry Cecil's fiction? He was a County Court judge in the mid 90s in England and he wrote quite a lot of legal humour as well as off-beat crime novels.

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  4. Harshdeep, thanks, mate! Almost committed blasphemy there! Have updated the post. I first thought I'd answer this with "I have an answer but you will not like it" or "Oh what is the use anyway", but this one was ossum! BTW, why don't you take up the tag yourself?

    Galadriel, well, they flew over the bridge twice! :) Sorry: but they aren't on the top of my list, even Milo or Major Major Major Major.

    Hari, Henry Cecil, eh? Okay... gutenberg it is, then!

    Ellie, awww... you can always settle for Boo Radley :)

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  5. Atticus is one of my favorites too:)
    What do you think of John Galt of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged?
    And Tarique of 'A thousand Splendid Suns' by Khaled Hosseini?
    Is 'Meghnad Badh Kabya' available in English??I love reading stuff that might smell of blasphemy or irreverence but is actually just another point of view.

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  6. Really good list
    Atticus is one of my favorites too. I have always had a notion that Bluntschli is handsomer than Shaw had us believe.
    :D

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  7. Indian home maker, actually, John Galt and Howard Roark and pretty much most of the hi-fi characters in Ayn Rand's novels are too good to be true: they are like an unassailable benchmark. Haven't read 'A Thousand Splendid Suns', on my to-read list :) And Meghnad Badh Kabya is available in English there -- you might want to buy it if you are so inclined.

    Mampi, hey, welcome onboard! Bluntschli handsomer than what Shaw portrayed? Hmm... somebody has a crush! :D Well, to be honest, I would've loved reading the biography of Captain Bluntschli, if there was one! :)

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  8. Hi...Sorry to bother you, but when I tried to implement a theme from finalsense I couldn't get comment right on my blog...Can you help me with it.

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  9. Interesting list, and even more interesting to see Oliver from Love Story finding a mention...since you mostly turn yr nose up at that kind of stuff, like any other self respecting guy. Love story became one of my fave novels, not because of the story itsel but because of the fact that it was presented in such a matter of fact, every day kind of narrative that touched the heart!

    Sky

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  10. Your current post reminds me of the vacuum in my present life. I have become a typical behenji :-)I know of the latest malls, eating joints, current lipstick shades,sale kahan lagi ahi... but nothing about literature.But who cares if the packaging is good? Mera koi ilaz hai? Jaroorat kya hai? People are comfortable with my type of intellectually challenged behenjis.:-)So tumhari ye post samajh mei hi nahi aayi? Tell me if is it "in thing" to talk about? Then I will pretend to understand it. :-)

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  11. Aniruddha, yeah it took me a little time to tweak things around myself. Drop me an email and we can see whats wrong.

    Sky, moi not self-respecting?! Hmm... well, Oliver was someone who defined the attachment of love for me.

    Alka, malls, eating joints and lipstick shades?! :( Oh well... you should have your own quirks --- denying them is like a guy denying he doesn't like gizmos or cars. If it is the in thing to talk about... well, you don't necessarily have to have read the book to pass an expert opinion on it, do you? :D

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  12. Arthur Dent of Hitchhiker's guide missed!!!

    Nope, not acceptable - kindly go ahead and panic!!

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  13. My favorite Sarat Chandra character would be Srikanto :) And Captain Bluntschli - God! How could I have missed him out in my list? I was so in love with the chocolate cream soldier in school!

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  14. Sarvamekam, well, you can take up the tag Mr DentArthurDent! :)

    Mystic Margarita, yep, the chocolate cream soldier! :) But yes, Srikanto was very human.

    I see you've changed your profile pic, btw :)

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  15. Sudipta,

    English translation of 'Meghnad Badh Kabya' by Cinton Seely is close to Rs 4000/- !

    Any version/edition which is more affordable ?

    Best wishes.

    Shyamal Chatterji

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  16. Mr. Chatterjee, I honestly don't know. But if you come to know a more affordable place, I'd be happy to know. I could translate it at some time myself :)

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