Crisis and Man: Literary Responses Across Cultures

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Krishnaswami, Mallika (2012)
  • Publisher: Journal Of Business Management & Social Sciences Research
  • Journal: Journal Of Business Management & Social Sciences Research (issn: 2319-5614)
  • Subject: Social Sciences; Cultural Sciences | Social problems, crisis, existential leanings, solidarity, clash of tradition and modernity.

Myth of Sisyphus exemplifies the situation man finds himself in irrespective of his ethnic and geographical background. Art and cultural forms gave expression to this situation and the intensity of the expression depended upon the political and social dimensions. War or peace, man is always condemned to struggle with his problems, moral or otherwise. Post war English writers focused on the social problems the British society found itself in and its helplessness in dealing with them. It was the era that produced highly individual novelists of the age and William Golding is one among them. Goldings novels take a pessimistic view of the human race in the face of crisis. Lord of the Flies (1954), is a simple adventure tale that is turned into a moral allegory of political power where surfaces the inherent evil nature of man. An escape from the horrors of war reveals that man cannot run away from it as evil is his basic nature. Existentialism which called for a search for meaning was a predominant theme in French literature of the post war era and Albert Camus is one of its finest exponents. With all his existentialist leanings he refused to be labeled one, preferring instead to advocate the theory of the absurd, best epitomized in LEtranger (1942)(The Outsider). Camus La Peste (1947) (The Plague) shows the solidarity of a community in the face of a crisis which in the beginning threatens to destroy their spirit. Influenced by their western counterparts, Indian writers began to experiment with the different forms. The 60s though were termed as a period of dark modernism as tossed between a clash of traditional culture and western modernity, they searched for a suitable form Influenced by the writings of Sartre, Camus and Kafka, the writings of Ananthamurthy reflect the Indian existential view of life. Samskara (1965) deals with the creative and moral crisis of a high priest, torn between the ideals he has lived by and the reality of having given in, to his carnal pleasures.This paper tries to see whether human crisis is shaped by external factors which could be addressed politically or otherwise or whether they are inherent in man with no permanent solution.
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