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By Makarand R. Paranjape

‘Another Canon: Indian Texts and Traditions’ in English lines the improvement of Indian English literary and textual perform over a interval of 7 many years, focussing on vintage texts that have fallen past the scope of the confirmed canon.

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This collection contains reminiscences by Clive Bell, Conrad Eiken, Wyndham Lewis, Edith Sitwell, William Empson, James Reeves, W H Auden and Desmond Hawkins, among others. It also contains two interesting pieces by Indians – Bishnu Dey’s ‘Mr. S. Eliot and Bengali Poetry’ (225–30). That the March and Tambimuttu volume is universally read by Eliot aficionados and scholars is no surprise. It is cited in all bibliographies and biographies of Eliot and some of its pieces are reproduced in the standard collections of critical essays on Eliot.

Finally, in an interview with me, Raja Rao himself told me who the original of Comrade Kirillov was: Raja Rao revealed him to be a man called Shevalkar, a Maratha Brahmin from Tanjore, who became India’s ambassador to Russia. He married a European woman called Mary. Apparently, he was on the KGB payroll, if not spying for them. Inadvertently, he helped India by toeing the Soviet line during the Quit India movement and alienating the whole of India from the Communists. He wrote an anti-Gandhian response in refutation of a book on ahimsa by Aldous Huxley.

All men in Marxism have anonymous names, and death – this last biological fact – is an act of sheer surgery against betrayal (26–7). Or If the biology of selective killing were understood, humanity might yet attain the clear apex of history […] Death, the Moscow deaths, were the antiseptics of history – you kill for the beauty of your eyes (46). If Kirillov can countenance the Stalinist purges and genocides it is no surprise that he can, with even less soul-searching, support the British during the Quit India movement.

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