Advertisement

“The Bliss I Could Portray”: Elliptical and Declamatory Male-Male Desire in the Work of Vikram Seth

  • Oliver Ross

Abstract

Vikram Seth is widely celebrated as one of the greatest living Indian writers in English and his work has attracted significant attention, especially surrounding his willful flouting of postmodernist literary trends. If The Golden Gate (1986), his early novel in rhyming poetry, was quite out of keeping with a Euro-American climate of free verse, the voluminous realist prose epic A Suitable Boy (1993) flummoxed a generation of readers reared on the aesthetic excesses of Midnight’s Children1 and its successors. In The New York Times Magazine, Richard Woodward wrote, “Deliberately plain and uninvolved in its syntax and psychology, ‘A Suitable Boy’ reads as though Flaubert, Joyce and Nabokov had never existed. It isn’t so much post-modern as pre-modern.”2 Marked out as unfashionably realist and unfashionably long in both encomiastic and dismissive analyses, A Suitable Boy is often analyzed as a stylistic anomaly whose themes do not merit expansive treatment. The novel is so wide-ranging that any discussion is significantly constrained by the requisite concision of the literary review, and, while some scholarly publications3 do attempt a more comprehensive approach, there remain many lacunae in Seth studies.

Keywords

Indian Culture Golden Gate York Time Magazine Rose Petal Nursery Rhyme 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    Salman Rushdie, Midnight’s Children (London: Cape, 1981).Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    E.g. Vikram Seth, The Literary Genius, ed. by Pramod K. Nayar and R. K. Dhawan (New Delhi: Prestige, 2005).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Vijay Singh Thakur, Stylistics of Indian English Fiction (New Delhi: Serials Publications, 2008).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Pier Paolo Piciucco, “Elizabethan Influences and Sexual Ambiguities in A Suitable Boy,” in ZZ Nayar and ZZ Dhawan, 2005, pp. 97–109.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Rita Joshi, “The Writer as Traveler: The World of Vikram Seth,” World Literature Today, 82, 3 (2008), 47–50 (p. 48).Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Vikram Seth, An Equal Music (London: Phoenix, 1999).Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Leila Seth, On Balance (New Delhi: Penguin, 2003), p. 429.Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    Vikram Seth, Summer Requiem: A Book of Poems (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2015).Google Scholar
  9. 14.
    Vikram Seth, The Collected Poems (New Delhi: Penguin, 1999), p. 38.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    Elizabeth Armstrong, Forging Gay Identities: Organizing Sexuality in San Francisco 1950–1994 (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2002), p. 1.Google Scholar
  11. 22.
    See Zahir-ud-din Muhammed Babur, Baburnama, Memoirs of Babur, Prince and Emperor, trans. by Wheeler M. Thackston (Hong Kong: OUP, 1996).Google Scholar
  12. 28.
    Bruce King, “Review: A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth,” World Literature Today, Indian Literatures: In the Fifth Decade of Independence, 68, 2 (spring, 1994), 431–432.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 30.
    B. Krishnaiah, The Native Tradition and Recent Indian Novel (New Delhi: Prestige Books, 2010), pp. 82–83.Google Scholar
  14. 31.
    Ruth Vanita, “Chapter Eighteen: India,” in The Fin de Siècle World, ed. by Michael Saler (London: Routledge, 2014), p. 284.Google Scholar
  15. 34.
    Johan Pemble, The Raj, the Indian Mutiny and the Kingdom of Oudh, 1801– 1859 (Sussex: Harvester Press, 1977);Google Scholar
  16. Rosie Llewellyn-Jones, A Very Ingenious Man: Claude Martin in Early Colonial India (Oxford: OUP, 1999).Google Scholar
  17. 35.
    Ravi Bhatt, The Life and Times of the Nawabs of Lucknow (New Delhi: Rupa & Co., 2006), p. 120.Google Scholar
  18. 43.
    See Robert Bly, “The Surprises in Ghalib,” in The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib: Selected Poems of Ghalib, trans. by Sunil Dutta (Hopewell, NJ: The Ecco Press, 1999), pp. 1–8 (p. 3).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Oliver Ross 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Oliver Ross

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations