In 2014, I wrote a six-part series about bibliomemoirs published from 1990-onwards till early-2014. This month, we have three bibliomemoirs featured in that series -- Rebecca Mead on George Eliot; Alexander McCall Smith on W H Auden; and Janet Malcolm on Chekhov. First, why bibliomemoirs? Read Part 1 of the series for that. For now, let me share Joyce Carol Oates' definition: "Rarely attempted, and still more rarely successful, is the bibliomemoir — a subspecies of literature combining criticism and biography with the intimate, confessional tone of autobiography. The most engaging bibliomemoirs establish the writer’s voice in counterpoint to the subject, with something more than adulation or explication at stake." Second, why bibliomemoirs as writing how-to? I find that when we dive deep into how a particular literary work has been written -- peeling back the layers of biography, history, writing process, narrative structure, etc. -- we gain a much deeper understanding of both the work and the art and craft of writing. It helps, of course, when the literary work is one we also enjoy and admire.
When the movie, 'Dunkirk', was released in India, despite the "whitewashing" controversy and to the surprise of many of India's movie industry experts, it drew large crowds. And these same experts spoke out more than usual about the lack of Indians in the narrative, given India's critical role in both the Great Wars. Before we go about censuring or educating the world on why India should not have been shortchanged, it would behoove us -- Indians everywhere -- to understand India's role in these Great Wars better for ourselves.
For the many creatives who may be struggling with the non-stop barrage of world events across news and social media, a thread of thoughts. It is important for a creative to protect his/her headspace. Or “inner life” or “reflexes.” Our work comes from ideas consumed/responded to. This is more difficult for creatives because our sensory receptors are, necessarily, always in “receive” mode to external/internal stimuli.