literary criticism

The age of enlightenment.

The age of enlightenment, referred to an elite cultural movement usually associated to eighteenth centaury, thought its origin could be traced back to a period earlier than that. It at its best sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge

Its most important feature is the belief in “reason” as a defining characteristic of human being. Reason in context to “the enlightenment” encircles the common sense, power to observation and deduction and scepticism in thought. Reason was thus considered a right weapon against superstition and tyranny, which at the pretext of time were the major follies of the human race, an outcome of cynical approach to religion.

The enlightenment was a reaction against the religious dogmatism of the late 16th and early 17th century. The enlightenment bore its origin in the scientific and intellectual revolution of the 17th century. The scienitific revolution forced the humans to question themselves. The main questions were, “who am I?”, “what is my purpose in life?” These questions were liberal in nature, which asserted to indulge a better logic and reason to ransack the answers

Reason came into being as an answer to all these question, the laws of nature when applied to the human race, the logical thinking when correlated to the human desire and emotions, shifted the former society to an intellectually uplifted one.

In literature under the consideration, the major themes that became prevalent in and around the era of the enlightenment were circling mainly around “reason” and the “human potential”. Rationalism, or the logical reasoning based on the facts attracted many a intellectuals of the time. The religious dogmatism was what it was a major opposition to. The blind faith and superstitions were omnipresent but rationalism caused a blow to them. Optimism, free will and self confidence, when were added to it yielded a class shift to still more higher intellect. The freedom or free will was taken up as a narrative by Denis Diderot, in his “Jacques le fataliste et son maître” (Jacques the Fatalist and his Master).  Montesquieu, a French social commentator and political thinker, famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of powers was largely responsible for the terms like feudalism and Byzantine Empire. Descartes, Pascal, Bayles, Voltaire, and Rousseau, were the others who contributed in the era of the enlightenment. Freedom to think; that too on its own without partialities and prejudices added to its vigour.

The enlightenment humanism was only circuling around the above mentioned themes. The freedom to think beyond religion influenced the people to think more justly, rationally and logically. The history had its role too, the wars, both the civil and the bloody thirty years war, influenced the society.

The common good was what was seeked and the enlightened “reason” served it well. The Diderot’s encyclopaedia and the political and religious censorship in France paved the ways for reforms.

The drawbacks of the enlightenment, lest it be, were ascertain, the human nature was thought to be universally alike and the conformations were not allowed.

The philosophies were too objective. They choose to see human nature as something uniform. The free play of emotions and creativity were blocked. An emotionless, insensible, soulless, feeling less, non-spontaneous thinking machine was the outcome of the enlightenment: a robot.

Romanticism was the answer…………………………………..will discuss separately.


Title: 2 States, the story of my marriage.

Written by: Chetan Bhagat.

A review by Bupinder Singh.

“2 states the story of my marriage”, is a realistic, semi fictional, autobiographical novel, but it acclaims a note pointing to be read as a true fiction by the author himself. It is the 4th stereotypical novel by Chetan Bhagat. The book comes in a blood red coloured cover which has not so mesmerising but meaningful design. Like all Five Point Someone, The 3 Mistakes Of My Life, Revolution 2020 And One Night @ The Call Centre, this book also features a numerical figure in its title, “2”. The book is available from the publishers Rupa & CO. at Rs 140(earlier Rs 95) under the ISBN No 9788129115300 and was first published in 2009

Being a realistic novel, the story is of now, the space is where we live and it proves to be a good past time occupying activity. Its easy on language and has a lucid vocabulary, so that one doesn’t needs to carry a dictionary along. Funny at times, it grasps the attention and turns interesting in several parts. The action seems to be condensed in the first 40 pages – love, dating, live-in, sex, college life, struggle for jobs, after which the story seems to lose the pace and give the readers a space to turn a few pages at times. Being the story of how and why the families fall in love the readers are compelled to stick-in upto the end.

Chetan’s catchy back cover summaries are enchantingly attention seeking.

“Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy.

Girl’s family has to love boy. Boy’s family has to love girl.

Girl’s Family has to love Boy’s Family. Boy’s family has to love girl’s family.

Girl and Boy still love each other. They get married.”

— But after finishing one feels to add an “if” in the start of the last line, as the couple fell out of love trying to get their families to like each other.

The book is a satire on the inter-community marriages in Indian social culture. Although being original and a new theme in printed version, it reminds us of some Bollywood movie in which actor and actress who are from different communities love each other and their relationship is against the will of their parents, but still at the end they marry each other.

A hint of the wit is showcased by Chetan as soon as one opens the book, when he dedicates the book to his in-laws and at the same instant visualises it as being henpecked under the thumb of his wife, or not being a man enough. Not only humour, but a cause is also highlighted, as the author in the book itself states, “I want to be a writer” and defines it as “someone who tells stories that are fun but bring about change too”, that is the message of “One India”, a country without the demarcation of states and communities. Towards the end, it also plays an emotional tune when the alienated father-son relation melts down to a normal one.

To bring out the irony of inter-community marriage into the foreground, the author has kindled an affair between a Punjabi, Krish and a, Tamil Brahmin Ananya.  The book features the first person point of view, lot of dialogue and no or very little monologue and soliloquies. The book does not has a long cast of characters, only a few well-woven characters are found. Other than Krish and Ananya the characters are their respective families only and that two three from each sides. Character development is minimal. The characters are flat, and end as they have started, that is, they posses the same character from the start to the end.

The glamour of IIT’s and IIM’s is prevelant in the text which also leads to the exposition of the education system and the prejudices and views of people towards education and their centres.

Although a work of fiction, it lacks a firm exposition, a good foreshadowing and a solid rising action. Informal in style the text does keeps the reader sticking to it until one finishes it but still the story is predictable after the first 60 pages. The text also exposes the characteristic qualities of both the Punjabis and the Tamils. The coolness, money mindedness of Punjabis and there preference of money over intellect is shown in addition to their love for food. The Tamils seem to posses a love for knowledge and hatred for showing it off, an understating and passion of Carnatic music, and offcourse Rawa Dosa and Sambhar. He compare the two as “Marble flooring is to a Punjabi what a foreign degree is to a Tamilian”.

The success mantra is repeated in this novel also – the coffee table issues, the traffic jams the chai walla, the identifiable characters from within the society, the twists and turns, the local names and places.

The novel is a sure page-turner, a delight to read, understandable and readable by most of the people, but it lacks a literary taste and even as a post-modern novel, it dosent has much to allure the tastes of the literary intellectuals. It can be placed somewhere to the right of Five Point Someone on a ten point scale.

“2 states, will gather audience in all the states”

—- Bupinder Singh Bali.


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