‘Things of Stylized Beauty’: The Novels of Sudhin N. Ghose and the Fragments of an Indian Tradition
Sudhin N. Ghose’s tetralogy of novels published between the late 1940s and 1950s was once hailed by its reviewers as among the best representations of Indian English literature. Now, however, Ghose and his novels have been almost completely forgotten. This disappearance from the memory of the readers and literary critics alike of a body of work praised so highly just five decades ago is a curious phenomenon. Even more curious is the strange and persistent ‘mis-categorisation’ of these novels of Ghose. From their very publication, the novels have been (mis)read, as autobiographies, and thus have never been explored as part of the otherwise thoroughly mapped terrain of the twentieth century Indian English fiction. This article tries to bring back the focus on Ghose’s novels and probe into the causes behind their initial success and subsequent failure to achieve a widespread circulation, attract a substantial amount of critical attention or even find a place in the category of Indian English fiction. It is an attempt to read the novels as part of the twentieth century Indian English fiction and the larger context of the metropolitan ‘alterity industry’ through which the image of ‘traditional’ India has been produced and consumed for the last two centuries. But it is also an attempt to explain why Ghose’s novels stand out as unique specimens that cannot be easily reconciled to any available category of anglophone Indian literature.