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Since 1st March, 1999
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Paperback Pickings

Questions asked and unanswered

Five Lords, Yet None a Protector and Timeless Tales (Stree, Rs 300) by Saoli Mitra has two plays ' Nathabati Anathabat, which starred the author alone, and Katha Amritasaman. The first has been translated by Rita Datta, while the translators of the other one are Ipsita Chanda and Moushumi Bhowmik. The introduction to the plays is valuable, since it lays out the background of the Mahabharata, with interesting references to Tagore and Rajsekhar Basu. Stills from the performance would have pleased readers, but the author and translators probably wished to present the plays only as literary texts.

Other Worlds (Seagull, Rs 395) brings 'selections from the New Left Review ' a key journal of the international Left.' Achin Vanaik discusses the context and gains of the World Social Forum in Mumbai in 2004, and comes up with the suggestion that this global gathering should be held 'every second or even third year'. Two authors, Francesca Orsini and Pascale Casanova, discuss literature ' the former's essay is 'India in the Mirror of World Fiction' and the latter's 'Literature of the World'. Casanova asks, 'Is it possible to re-establish the lost bond between literature, history and the world, while still maintaining a full sense of the irreducible singularity of literary texts' The interesting juxtaposition of Frederic Jameson's 'Politics of Utopia' and Perry Anderson's discussion of the essay is just one proof of the seminal works that have been published in this left-liberal journal.

Global Rivalries from the Cold War to Iraq (Vistaar, Rs 650) by Kees Van Der Pijl traces the 'fractures and faultlines in the global political economy' which spawned phenomena such as the Cold War and and events such as the Balkan crisis. No prizes for guessing that America figures prominently in the book.

Shesher Kobita (Rupa, Rs 195) by Rabindranath Tagore, translated by Anindita Mukhopadhyay would make the defenders of copyright on Tagore jump for joy. The poems could not have been translated more incompetently, although it is evident that much labour has gone into the task. But the labour has only produced addresses such as 'Incognita' for aparichita. The translator also tries her hand at rhyming. Here's a sample: 'To get to know you better,/ Won't be an easy matter.'

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