It is rare that you find oceanic depths in the works of post-modern writers in English. It is here where the success of Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 lies.
Penned by Sabarna Roy, a technocrat turned teller of stories, this latest work makes an honest attempt to fathom human mind and its wayward journeys, at times. Why so? Is it genetic disorder, gene-related abnormalities or succumbing to uncontrollable infatuation to the opposite sex?
Over decades, many authors have tried to explain this in their own way using various parameters of societal conditioning and rippling waves in human mind. Their efforts to unravel this particular state of mind made them create such literary classic characters as Lolita, Humbert Humbert, Anna Karenina or perhaps, Helen of Troy.
Sabarna Roy occupies a place for himself as one of these writers and Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 amply proves that. Through this book, he has broken many barriers of misconception related to characters created by several literary icons over the decades. Such characters personified duality of character and/or obsessions.
A bestselling author of five literary books, Sabarna Roy explains scientific reasons behind these characters with obsession virtually piece-by-piece.
Earlier, he had tried to delve into this psychological trait of humans being through his five books like Pentacles, Frosted Glass, Abyss, Winter Poems and Random Subterranean Mosaic: 2012 – 2018 Time Frozen in Myriad Thoughts.
Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 further analyzes this syndrome weaving the author’s take in chapters with interesting headlines 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 figures as the concluding chapter of the book. The references to Karl Marx, Hegel and even the Bolshevik Revolution of Russia to corroborate his argument that “fundamental to everything was the recognition of duality” really opens up a new vista of argumentation.
Sabarna Roy is perhaps the first neo-modern writer who uses latest developments in the field of genetic and psychological studies on human behavior as benchmarks to analyze “Dark Side of the Mind” of such iconic literary characters as Humbert Humbert, Lolita, Anna Karenina and Nikhilesh.
By resorting to pure scientific principles, such as, “Quantum of Uncertainty”, the author makes his viewpoint crystal clear in a prosaic and also, later through poetic idiom in this book. He aptly writes that it “impacted social theory, literature and arts, and artistic and aesthetics theory.”
Sabarna writes in the book: “Overall, I have attempted to argue that even in the non-pathological domain of schizotypal individual differences there are numerous possibilities for both dimensional and categorical expressions both of traits and states”.
In his earlier works, particularly Pentacles, Frosted Glass and Abyss, Sabarna Roy dealt at length with swarthy labyrinths of the modern industrial era in which a human being acts more as a cog in a wheel resulting in creation of a myriad of obsessions and thus, developing duality and dualism, which is an inherent strain of life itself. Etchings of the First Quarter of 2020 is an advanced step to further analyze the same in the light of pure scientific principles.
This extraordinary book can certainly be very useful to psychologists, psychiatrists, students of philosophy and logic and mature readers to understand duality and dualism of human minds in the forms of characters like Humbert Humbert, Lolita, Ana Karenina and Nikhilesh. All of them showed this particular trait.
These characters were created by Vladimir Nabokov, Leo Tolstoy and Rabindranath Tagore. After so many decades, Sabarna Roy makes a maiden attempt to help readers understand these characters personifying duality through scientific means.
This book also brings to light the duality and dualism in the love and affection of a step-father and step-daughter. A Letter to a Step-daughter of Part-A of the book is virtually a thesis by itself.
In it, we find natural love of father Babuzula for his step-daughter Tulip which is sparklingly dense and touching.
Similarly, Part-B of the book A Letter to Suranjana is a realistic attempt by Sabarna Roy to scientifically map the mind of the fictional character Humbert Humbert of Vladimir Nabokov’s most controversial novel Lolita that shows mad infatuation of Humbert towards Dolores Haze whom he fondly calls Lolita cropped up due to his split personality.
“Nocturnal Conversation between a Step-father and Step-daughter over desserts and coffee”, forming Part-C of the book, is a methodology to understand human life in its real perspective 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.”
The last part of the book, Winter Poems 2020, provokes our thoughts not only because of the psychological maze but also due to inherent dialectical and indeterminate human weaknesses.