Proceedings of the International Conference on Social Sciences and Humanities in the 21st Century
Locating ‘Male’ In Indian Mythopoeic Cultural Narratives: A Critical Evaluation of Asim Ranjan Parhi’s of Sons and Fathers
Dr. Munira Salim and Dr. Asima Ranjan Parhi
Northrop Frye in his essay ‘Myth, Fiction, and Displacement’ writes, ‘Literary shape cannot come from life; it comes only from literary tradition and so ultimately from myth’. Many skilful writers from the ancient till contemporary times have quite systematically sought for this‘mythopoeic’ pattern. Whether canonical writers like Shakespeare, Austen and Dickens or popular literature in its prime today, most of these practitioners of fiction turn to ahistorical myth-making in order to sustain a narrative discontinuity so essential to their craft. This discontinuity retains the scope for the folk tale or a legend, a comic interlude or a ritual myth to take over in order to retain the narrative’s essential flavour.
In this connection we propose to critically examine Of Sons and Fathers, a collection of sixty eight poems that originates in its formal myth-making process, unlike much of the bulk of rampantly rewritten myths and epics in India in contemporary times. Whereas, much of the bulk of the Indian mythopoeic narratives are engaged to suit to the contingencies of the margin/gender/racial prejudices of the present time, what we consider to present is the creative capability and vigour to retain the historical, moral as well as contextual relevance of the ancient categories in all times, through a serious examination of the anthology under discussion. The mythico-cultural setting and characters are visited with an aim of what Frye says ‘criticism of causes and not effects’ to posit the ancient ‘epic in a lyric form’ (Supriya Chaudhuri, inaugural address to National Seminar on Modernism and it’s Afterlives, 11-12 March 2022, Utkal University).Through Parhi’s creative insight we would bring home the idea of ‘male’ anxiety and helplessness in the face of cultural categories and their burden; of the male hero being conditioned to act according to convention and role play. Through this we would argue how the archetypal characters perform in a set mythical tradition, yet could outdo their boundaries and evolve charismatic in new forms of crises. For example:
Fathers are but sons dipped in sulky love
Forever young to take up action and cast their curve
History knows the epical duel
Loss was only a fortune cruel (Of Sons and Fathers138)
Here the burden of masculinity is tested according to genetics and kinship tradition that is ingrained through generations and get perpetuated as cultural traits and not merely as gender stereotypes. This paper aims at unveiling such motifs and methods in the collection that has got rave reviews in recent scholarship in India.
keywords: Archetypal, Father-son allegory, Gender stereotypes, Male-anxiety, Mythopoeic