By Potheri Kunhambu
Translated from the Malayalam by Dilip Menon
Past Continuous: Series Editor Meenakshi Mukherjee
Saraswativijayam celebrates English education for untouchables as a means of escaping subordination. Potheri Kunhambu was only too conscious of the radical possibilities opened up for lower castes by colonial modernity.
An arrogant brahmin landlord causes the ‘death’ of his slave for the crime of singing a song in his presence. However in the time of colonial law, traditional society could not cover up its excesses. What is remarkable about the novel is that Kunhambu conceives of the brahmin and untouchables as a dyad-neither can find salvation without moving out of the master-slave relation that traps them in an unequal and unending combat. Throughout the novel there is at once an agonized engagement with Hindu tradition as well as the overwhelming recognition of the futility of a constructive dialogue with it. Tradition subordinates, modernity freezes.
2002, pp. 115, ISBN 81-88434-01-9, Rs. 200.00