“…as the great pundit Benjamin Franklin said, ‘paper may be cheap, but it’s hard to use it well'”
For the little time we spend reading Six and a Third Acres, it’s yield is fruitful & as worthy, for he uses his paper well. In less than 200 pages, he not only impresses us with his firm grip on the understanding of human condition, in all its forms & imperfections; but also recreates a genuine society & legitimate characters. The authenticity of the plot, the accuracy of the narration, the sublime humor: all perfect.
The voice of the book is charmingly witty. I won’t tell whose it is, but I can tell you it’s the voice of the Powerless, revealing the tactics of the Powerful. An intentionally helpless, innocently insincere voice justifies the virtues of vice & ends up exposing exploiters & the loopholes they use to shield themselves & fool others: from (mis)quoting Shastras conveniently but convincingly, to justifying their cunningness. Proving true what usually is the case with glory & the glorified: shadows find them & truths uncover eventually.
Even in its exaggeration, the book is practical & the story, easily true. Despite its comical voice, the poignancy of the book is unignorable. The way Senapati has grabbed the pulse of the Indian zamindari system & its players is commendable. The satirical essence, embedded in its every page. Every word, strained with purpose. The flow, irrevocable.
Humor is essential to Senapati’s writing, as much as the social message he sends. My only setback was the consistent humor, for the thing with humor is that it’s more enjoyable when discovered in intervals. As it turns out, satire is best used as a subtext & not the text itself. I enjoyed Senapati’s wit but snarky comment after snarky comment made it lose its thrill. The surprise element faded away & soon worn out, as the reader became used to the narrative style. But nonetheless, the topic it raises & how, is done exceptionally well.
It’s one of those movies that would make a great Priyadarshan film, especially when you understand the science of human nature as well as Senapati does.
Also important to point out is the beauty of translation that we take for granted. Having read a few pages from the Penguin edition of the same classic, I instantly regretted it. The translation by Leelawati Mohapatra feels more alive. The same with her translation of Senapati’s ‘Ananta, The Widow’s Son’ from a collection of Odia stories. I couldn’t resist reading this & another story: ‘Patent Medicine’ (translated by Senapati himself) for the April Prompt of #longandshortofit
Do you read different translations of the same book?
Ps- the lovely Madhubani bookmark is from @popbaani! Use my code CBS020 for a 20% off!