Anita Desai: novelist in Indian English fiction

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       Anita Desai, great novelist of the Indian English fiction was born in 1937 : Anita Desai is unquestionably one of the celebrated Indian - English fiction writers. She holds a unique place among the contemporary women novelists of India. She has to her credit a large number of creative works and a coherently growing readership throughout the world. She has published ten novels and other literary works of immense value. Anita Desai's women characters in her novels rebel against patriarchal community in order to explore their own potential or to live on their own terms, regardless of the consequences that such a rebellion may have on their lives. They take the position of outsiders to fight and criticize those cultural ideologies that come in their way of becoming free individuals, self - chosen withdrawal, for these women, takes on the form a weapon for survival in a patriarchal community. Desai's women, thus, want freedom within the community of men and women, as it is the only way that will succeed in fulfilling them in fact, Desai's model of an emancipated woman, Bimala in the novel 'Clear Light Of Day,' is an unmarried woman. Her married women characters like Maya in Cry, a Peacock, Monisha in, The City, Nanda in Fire in the Mountain, and Sita in Where Shall We Go This Summer? Become depressed, violent or self-destructive.


Anita Desai, great novelist of the Indian English fiction was born in 1937
Anita Desai

      They either lose their sanity or kill others, or they kill or destroy themselves. The nemesis of these women is not a private one but an outgrowth of the complex social context, immediate family environments and the relationships with their men. Many of Desai's protagonists are portrayed as single women. Desai does not neglect the institution of marriage or support alienation from society. Some of her women characters, like Tara in 'Clear Light of Day', do achieve fulfillment in their marriages Instead, through Bimala, Desai points to a kind of feminist emancipation that lies in not limiting women to their traditional roles but in expanding and awakening them to several other possibilities. Their kind of life, apart from being invigorating, also frees them from dependence on men. Bimala, through her individual freedom, exemplifies Simon De Beauvoir's description of an independent woman in her book. The Second Sex, where she asserts that, Ceases to be a parasite, the system based on her dependence crumble; between her and the universe there is no longer any need for a masculine mediator." As Anita Desai says, "I don't think anybody's exile from society can solve any problem. I think the problem is how to exist in society and yet maintain one's individuality rather than suffering from a lack of society and a lack of belonging."


      Anita Desai's first novel, 'Cry, The Peacock' is concerned with its chief protagonist Maya's psychological problems. As a young sensitive woman, Maya wish to love and to live. She makes up the mind of her father, Gautama who is much older than she is. Maya is haunted constantly by the rationalistic approach of her husband to the affairs of life. Maya loves Gautama passionately and desires to be loved in return; but Gautama's coldness disappoints her. The root of the entire novel lies in the prophecy of albino astrologer, who creates a fear psychosis in Maya's mind, "The astrologer, that creeping sly magician of my hallucinations, no of course they were not hallucinations. Arjun had proved them to me and yet said they be real? Had never said anything to suggest that it was I who has to die, unnatural and violently for years after my marriage, nothing to suggest that he even thought that."


      This prophecy becomes troublesome to her unconscious mind. Anita Desai works on revealing the varying mental states, psychic observations, inner motives and existential pursuits of man. She succeeds fully in breaking non-grounds for her fictional art among her contemporary while dealing with the predicament of man and his social and moral dilemmas. Desai like Kafka unfolds the existential traits of man in society. She analyses a man in action in order to reveal his hidden motives behind the facial reality of conscious mind.

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