The Hobbit

The Hobbit

The Hobbit

The Hobbit is a fantasy fiction novel for children, written by English author J R R Tolkien. This book was published in 1937 to much critical acclaim, and is a prequel to the classic fantasy novel The Lord Of The Rings. This book is seen as an introduction to The Lord Of The Rings’ main characters, including the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, the wizard Gandalf, and the main antagonist Sauron, who at the time of this book is weakened and regrouping.

The Hobbit follows the tale of a home-loving hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and his adventure in helping Thorin, a dwarf and his twelve companions reclaim their treasure from the usurping dragon, Smaug. Smaug had killed Thorin’s grandfather and taken the dwarves homeland of Erebor for himself. Erebor, at the time of being usurped by the dragon, was one of the richest areas in the land. Bilbo is tricked by Gandalf into joining the company of dwarves and undertakes a long journey to Erebor, meeting elves, giant spiders, orcs and a certain creature named Gollum. Bilbo ends up thieving Sauron’s Ring of Power from Gollum, hiding this theft from Gandalf and his other companions. This theft is the main basis of the plot of the more famous Lord Of The Rings trilogy. Bilbo’s participation in the journey, though initially met with scepticism by the dwarves, eventually proves a boon to them as he gets them out of many sticky situations. Gandalf splits ways with the dwarves to go fight a manifestation of Sauron in his refuge spot. Bilbo’s journey culminates with the death of Smaug at the hands of a man and a final war between the dwarves, elves and humans on one side and Sauron’s orcs on the other side.

This book is classified as a children’s books by many. However this is still a very enjoyable read for many adults and is considered a literary classic. The fact that this book is still read today, after nearly 80 years after being first published, is a testimony to its brilliant plot. The book is in fact based on Tolkien’s experiences in the First and Second World Wars. For those who enjoy fantasy novels filled with mystery, elves, dwarves and other mythical events, this book is a must-read. Filled with light and witty humour, this book will leave you in awe at the turn of events in Bilbo’s journey.

Nitheesh H N

II CAME L

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The Guide

The Guide

The Guide

R K Narayan (10 October 1906 – 13 May 2001), full name Rasipuram Krishnaswami Iyer Narayanaswami, was an Indian writer, best known for his works set in the fictional South Indian town of Malgudi. He is one of three leading figures of early Indian literature in English (alongside Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao), and is credited with bringing the genre to the rest of the world. In a writing career that spanned over sixty years, Narayan received many awards and honours. These include the AC Benson Medal from the Royal Society of Literature and the Padma Vibhushan, India’s second-highest civilian award. He was also nominated to the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of India’s parliament.

Summary

R K Narayan’s novel The Guide is the story of a man named Raju who comes from a small village in India called Malgudi. Malgudi itself does not exist. This fact gives Narayan’s novel the feeling of a fable or fantasy.

Throughout Raju’s life, he does his best to be whatever people require him to be at any given moment. When he runs a shop in the Malgudi train station, he is “Railway Raju,” an extraordinary guide and procurer of all things needed. When Raju meets a beautiful dancer named Rosie, he becomes her lover and her guide as well by helping Rosie realize her wish to dance professionally. When Rosie becomes famous, Raju then becomes “Raj,” a man of influence and elevated social standing. This does not last very long, however, and Raju eventually ends up in prison. While incarcerated, Raju again works his chameleon magic, whereby he becomes well-known and well-liked. However, Raju never seems to understand the lesson life wishes for him to learn.

After being released from prison, Raju finds himself wondering what to do with the rest of his life. Raju has no desire to return to Malgudi to face gossip and rejection. He hides out in an abandoned temple on the banks of the Sarayu River and buys himself a little bit of time. One day, a man named Velan appears at the temple and through a series of conversations, Velan comes to regard Raju as some sort of a holy man. Finding the situation beneficial, Raju plays along with the ruse. However, there comes a day when, due to some rather comical miscommunications, Raju is forced to reveal the truth about who he is and where he comes from. Raju believes that this act of disclosure will free him from playing the part of the accidental swami, but it has just the opposite effect.

Sitting in the ancient temple on the river bank, Raju’s final incarnation is that of “Swamiji.” Raju’s metamorphosis occurs when he is finally able to release his need to be all things to all people. He comes to an understanding of what it means to serve others selflessly. His entire life, Malgudi, Rosie, money and fame, all fall away until finally, Raju is left with nothing but the essence of himself as just another man. It is at this point that Raju becomes the saint he has been playing all along. Raju’s deceptions prove valuable after all, as he eventually acts his way into his true self, finally becoming able to sacrifice himself willingly in order to restore hope to the lives of others.

Comment                                                                                                                                                                                  This novel ‘THE GUIDE’ is written in English by R K NARAYAN, a famous Indian author. Through his work he tries to show how name, fame, wealth, power, possession that a man possesses fades off during his old age. He tries to convey the message that a man in his old age gives up all the luxuries of life and would shed selfishness, dishonesty, greed, jealous and lives for the sake of humanity. He lives to serve the disabled, the unprivileged and to restore hope to the lives of people. I personally feel that this fiction novel is quite successful in delivering the desired message. The novel is interesting and entertaining. The readers wouldn’t get bored while reading it. Raju’s life is predicated on a series of self-deceptions which eventually lead the character down a road of confusion, loss of self and then to spiritual transformation and awakening. I go with the author’s opinion that man in his youth urges to acquire all the luxuries of life but during his old age he realizes the true essence of life and lives for the sake of his fellow beings.

Yashwanthi Prabhakar

II CAME L                      

Underground – The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

Underground – The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

Underground – The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche

[First published by Kodansha Ltd (1997), Bungeishunjusha (1998)
English edition: Translated from the Japanese by Alfred Birnbaum and Philip Gabriel (2000)]

Haruki Murakami is an award-winning contemporary writer, a practical thinker and an excellent story-teller, born on 12th January, 1949, in the post-World-War-II period.

He was heavily influenced by Western thought and literature and perhaps that is why his works – having been translated into fifty languages worldwide – are so appealing to the modern soul. His most famous works include- Norwegian Wood; South of the Border, West of the Sun; and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

“Underground” is a compilation of the experiences of the surviving victims of a disastrous Gas Attack that took place in the subways of Tokyo on 20th March, 1995; killing 12 and injuring at least 5000 people. The attack occurred less than 2 months after the Kobe Earthquake of 1995, which had already caused mass-destruction and agitated the Japanese soul.

Murakami interviewed more than a thousand victims, as many as he could get hold of and were willing to speak. Yet, only a handful of the accounts were finally published in this book, as many of the interviewees did not wish to be written about.

In Part Two of the book, certain members of the organization responsible for the Gas Attack were also interviewed, providing an alternative take on the so-called ‘terrorist group’ called “Aum”.

The author’s comments and interpretations are interspersed throughout the book.
This book is so raw, the horrendous details of the Attack are so simply and lucidly put, that the experience of reading it is quite jarring.

Murakami merely wished to relay the event in the terms of those who were actually part of it; to show his readers exactly how unreal and misleading the images portrayed by the media can be.
In reality, he has done so much more. He has explained what it means to be human amidst a terrible crisis.
As one victim fittingly quotes, “I just felt like I was watching a programme on TV.”

I myself could see the events described unfolding right in front of my eyes as I read, late into the night. I couldn’t put this book down. It made me ponder over how superficial our lives are, of how shallow our worries are compared to the worries of those who had been targeted for no fault of theirs. The victims themselves do not know whom to blame for the attack: themselves, the ‘terrorists’, or God?

This is not only a historical account of facts surrounding the Tokyo Gas Attack but also a spiritual and humane interpretation of the human psyche. It is a solemn reminder that each and every one of us can fall prey to disaster; natural or man-made.

I have come to admire Murakami’s remarkable literary skill and style of narration, so much so that I must recommend this book to all those who enjoy history, politics, psychology, or those who are looking for a thrilling and realistic read.

Aishwarya Anand

II HEPP N