Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020, the latest among neo-modern writers, Sabarna Roy, known for beefing up rational thinking of mankind, is an extremely timely addition to the literary world.
For a long time, the book lovers really needed such a work that makes bold and brilliant attempts to demystify many psychological problems with which a section of mankind of present day industrial society suffers.
A writer of five best selling books like Pentacles, Frosted Glass, Abyss, Winter Poems and Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018 Time Frozen in Myriad Thoughts, Sabarna Roy used modern scientific tools to dispel decades old misgivings about some very famous fictional characters of literary classics in the format of the narrative of ideas.
Call it innuendos or whatever, the author really acts as an angel iconoclast to use them to reconstruct such famous literary characters like Anna Karenina and Lolita or perhaps Humbert Humbert to explain libido as a state of mental structure.
Sabarna Roy is known for incisively analyzing the darker recesses of today’s industrial society through his dark comedies. Besides prose, he also uses his poetic genius to reconstruct his own theory of these societal ailments that the readers of his earlier books appreciated.
Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 is wonderfully schemed from a literary vantage point with exciting chapters like A Letter to a Step-daughter, A Letter to Suranjana and Nocturnal Conversation between a Step-father and Step-daughter over desserts and coffee.
Winter Poems 2020, last part, further makes the work very meaningful as it speaks this civil engineer-turned storyteller’s grit to analyze split-minds of human beings that prompted the writers over the ages to create immortal characters, be it, Don Quixote, Othello or Desdemona or perhaps, Romeo and Juliet.
Such formatting of Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 like Letters, Ideas, Conversations and Poems makes Sabarna Roy’s book simply irresistible. Each of them contains special meaning and one understands them as one turns over the pages of the book.
In this book, Sabarna Roy has shown his literary courage as reconstructing or demystifying such iconic fictional literary characters, like, Anna Karenina, Humbert Humber, Lolita and Nikhilesh of Rabindranath Tagore’s Ghare Baire and ideas surrounding dualism, schizophrenia, marine conservation, love and poet T S Eliot’s secret love life.
It is more so as half-baked literary critics the world over would certainly raise a tempest of sorts at touching such characters. They also cannot be blamed. Over the decades, such characters remained as such and nobody ever dared to question their (fictional) actions.
The reason behind this is two-fold. Firstly, it is their lack of efforts to get deep into those characters and use modern scientific tool to explain the split in their personalities. Secondly, they did not dare to touch such characters for fear of being attacked.
This is more so as the characters were created by such masters of literature like Rabindranath Tagore, Leo Tolstoy and Vladimir Nabokov.
But Sabarna Roy dared! And he dared it in Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 proving he is all ready to face criticism and attack. It is here where one finds, the readers of English literature were really waiting for such a drastic step for decades together.
This book deals with matters that lie in the recesses of human brain and chambers of heart. The man-woman relationship with explanations of libido figures very subtly in the light of “unconscious mind” that attracts them towards darker aspects of human life.
A Letter to a Step-daughter, figuring in Part-A of the book, raises natural inquisitiveness of readers as the very title shows the father – Babuzula — is very fond of his step-daughter. And Babuzula’s love for step-daughter Tulip is as sublime, as pristine as a biological father would have.
Babuzula’s effort to divulge “Dark Side of the Mind” to Tulip through a letter would have deeply emotional effect on the readers particularly when the step-father writes that he may not be her real father but he considers her as his own daughter.
A Letter to Suranjana forming Part-B of Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020, is an extremely bold attempt to scientifically map the mind of a pedophile using the character Humbert Humbert of Vladimir Nabokov’s most controversial novel Lolita.
Humbert shows a split personality as far as his mad infatuation for the character Dolores Haze, a girl of 14, is concerned. He calls her Lolita. What is most important, Sabarna Roy tried to strongly put forth his idea that Humbert may deserve some greater understanding, developing his ideas as the novel progresses step-by-step after many a decades of publication of the book Lolita.
Very fresh fodder for literary critics! Is it not?
The Part-C of this book, “Nocturnal Conversation between a Step-father and Step-daughter over desserts and coffee”, is a methodology to understand human life in all its perspectives taking controllable and uncontrollable parts of life as two sides of a single coin.
To quote him “Uncertainty is closely associated with indeterminateness as indeterminate problems are likely to have multiple solutions.”
To make his standpoint stronger in this regard, Babazula, the step-father of Tulip, sides with Anna Karenina, the character of the novel of Leo Tolstoy by the same name.
Here, Sabarna Roy’s invitation of literary attack is quite apparent as he has touched upon none other than a character like Anna Karenina.
Interestingly, honest writers did not create controversies by their writings but it is controversies that chased them wherever they went making them writers irresistible.
In this book, Sabarna Roy aptly said people hardly had any understanding of dualism in persona when the character Anna Karenina was created. That is why people found her absolutely out-of-the-world. However, the latest discoveries in genetic sciences prove sometimes the unconscious and subconscious minds heavily influence human beings and they act erratically: stream of consciousness.
Similarly, Nikhilesh, the enlightened zaminder, one of the main characters of Rabindranath Tagore’s novel Ghare Baire, too suffered from irreconcilable dualities and a about century ago when this character was created, people had no scientific knowledge about such a persona.
Winter Poems 2020, concluding chapter of Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020, also paints myriad shades of duality in human life through a narrative poetic idiom.