Book Reviews

The Holocaust of Partition

The Holocaust of Partition – A Critical Study of Saadat Hasan Manto’s Mottled Dawn(Fifty Sketches and Stories of Partition) by Dr. P.V. Laxmiprasad, Authors Press, New Delhi 2021, ISBN 978-93-90891-45-0, Price- ₹600.

The Holocaust of Partition – A Critical Study of Saadat Hasan Manto’s Mottled Dawn (Fifty Sketches and Stories of Partition) is a strenuous task undertaken by none other than the fervent literary critic Dr .P.V. Laxmiprasad, a distinguished academician, a learned and renowned scholar, a well-known senior editor,  and an ardent admirer of English Literature. He has a passion for writing. He has published 42 books in English literature and 70 research papers to his credit. He is also a creative writer, with 120 poems, 55 book reviews, and a few translations to his credit. He has conducted interviews with a number of literary giants. Dr .P.V .Laxmiprasad is a conscientious writer ever keen on promoting Indian ethos and progress.

Though there are hundreds of critical study books on the history of Partition Literature Dr. P.V. Laxmiprasad’s The Holocaust of Partition – A Critical Study of Saadat Hasan Manto’s Mottled Dawn (Fifty Sketches and Stories of Partition) is a complete study of partition of India, it’s impacts, complexity and consequences. The author makes the readers to read first the Bio-note of Saadat Hasan Manto to get a clear picture of the harsh temperament man turned to be great prolific writer. The detail biography of Manto by P.V. Laxmiprasad speaks volumes of his merits as a writer as well as a great craftsman of short stories, a chronicler of human passion and social hypocrisy. Laxmiprasad has given a clear study of Manto’s life and his sufferings during the partition of Indian and Pakistan as one of the victims. The author has mentioned Manto’s inner feeling expressed by him as “When I sat down to write I found my mind in a confused state. However much I tried I could not separate Indian from Pakistan and Pakistan from India”.

Manto’s works mirrors the painful reflection of the traumatic incidents happened during and after India’s Partition. Laxmiprasad has mentioned that Manto’s works are the multifaceted exploration of the innate sense of human impotency. This book kindles the readers to raise questions on the crisis of national and cultural clash because of minority orientation, consciousness over nationalistic culture, language and religion. 

In Preface of this book the author Dr. P.V. Laxmiprasad clearly portrays the role of Partition Literature and its impact on historic events in South Asia as well as in literature. The book clearly pictures the events of partition as “a man-made tragedy”. The loss of humanity and communal harmony becomes the worst passion in the human heart is exposed by the author. The author brings out the outcome of partition as people those who were friends during the freedom movement became all of a sudden enemy. Love turned into hatred. The religious hatred became the order of the day and it finally partitioned the country into two based on the religion. This book throws light on the beginning of the colourful story of the millions of people of the border had met the tragic end because of Partition of India and Pakistan.

The book helps to understand the communal riots, disturbances people faced, abductions, raps and violence on large scale between Hindu and Muslims. The preface of this book stimulates the readers to read more number of works on Partition Literature. Young readers should be encouraged to read books on partition literature to salute the innocent people killed during the partition riots in 1947. It is divided into three sections, first Two-Nation Theory, second is about Partition Literature and Conclusion as a third part. The first part elucidates the origin of Two-Nation Theory and word Nation. The author clearly explained the emergence of Two-Nation Theory and the division of India into two nations namely India and Pakistan. This theory is the root cause of the creation of Pakistan movement and Hindu, Muslims were segregated under this Two-Nation Theory. The rejection of Two-Nation Theory by the state of India is justified by the author through his critical study of this book.

The introduction part of the second part Partition Literature speaks about the dislocation, displacement and dehumanization of 5, 00,000 and 2 million souls during the division of new national borders based on religion. It also witnesses the involvement of the political leaders like Nehru, Gandhi and Patel for the upliftment of the affected people. It has been proved that partition is a trauma for the people lived close to the border. Dr. P.V. Laxmiprasad has quoted from Shahid Hamid’s Disastrous Twilight, Alok Bhaller’s Introduction to a Collection of Partition Stories in English Translation, Chaman Nahal’s Partition and Literature. He also mentioned the excerpts from a William Dalrymple’s article on Indian Partition and  quoted Nehru’s most famous speech during the struggle for freedom  “At the stoke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”.

The book clearly states the changes after the partition such as migration of people, problems occurred during the division of assets of Indian between India and Pakistan. The distribution of cash balances, books and furniture and human beings on equitable basis has been revealed by the author with little bit of seriousness. The author has depicted the socio-cultural ethos of a community in detail, turmoil and trauma of human beings through the partition literature. It has revealed that women as the worst affected victims during shifting.

The book analyzes the history of Independent India begins with Partition and the events of great upheaval in the life of nation occurred after the partition of India and Pakistan. Laxmiprasad has added strength to his critical study by quoting the writers worked on the partition theme especially he has reviewed Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan and Amith Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines which represents the nationalism and the consequences of the partition. In this book the author has mentioned twelve best novels based on the Partition theme into English. Four books from Hindi they are Partitions by Kamleshwar, translated by Ameena Kazi Ansari, Tamas by Bhisham Sahni, translated by the author, A Village Divided by Rahi Massom Reza, translated by Gillian Wright and This Is Not That Dawn by Yashpal, translated by Anand. The author has given short review as an exploration of divisions, impressions of riots, impact of Partition on a community and the lives of young adults and their families in pre-Partition and later in India.

Four Urdu books translated into English are An Epic Unwritten, edited and translated by Muhammad Umar Memon, A Women’s Courtyard by Khadija Mastur, translated by Daisy Rockwell, Basti by Intizae Husain, translated by Frances W. Pritchett and Regret by Ikramullah, translated by Faruq Hassan and Mohammad Umar Memon reviewed by the author as they portrays the rejection of migration, witnessing the independent identity of migrated women, post-independence reality and persecution faced by non-Muslims .

Punjabi novels Pinjar by Amrita Pritam, translated by Khushwant Singh and Savage Harvest: Stories of Partition by Mohinder Singh Sarma, translated by Navtej Sarma implores the tragedy of Partition and rescue of Hindu passengers on their way to India respectively. Bengali novels Mapmaking: Partition Stories from Two Bengals Edited by Debjani Sengupta and A Life Long Ago by Sunanda Sikdar, translated by Anchita Ghatak revisits the lives of the migrated. Among the writers of India, Punjabi and Bengal writers has published lot of works on Partition theme.

Laxmiprasad oppose the violent incidents of partition like rape, abductions, arson and looting, mass killings and specifically massacres and ill-treatment of innocent people. He describes it as man-made tragedy. Fictions on Partition theme attempts to assimilate the enormity of the experience and the history of the lives and experiences. The tragedy of Partition paves a way to a new literary genre called Partition Literature. Ali Bajhadur Habibullah’s Phoenix Fled, Sunlight on Broken Column point out by the author as the best works on Partition Literature. He has also added Bhisham Sahani and Chaman Nahal into his account. It is observed with the views of the author that most of the stories, novels at the time of partition explored the pathos of situation and the sorrows of partition.

Background Study of Cyril Redcliff Line between India and Pakistan and Critical Appreciation of Mottled Dawn-Tragic Partition and Traumatic Displacement depict the horrors and terrors of Indian Partition. As far as the partition literature concerned the collection of Mottled Dawn consists of 50 sketches and stories of partition. He has pointed out this work as immortal literature in the world of Partition Literature. The book explore the nostalgic experiences after the partition of the country. The history of Partition and the brutal events are described in Manto’s stories deal with the social disintegration and cultural fragmentation. The social realities are reflected in his short stories. Short stories offer a glimpse at the darkness of the human psyche and how the human values deteriorated during the partition. People lived as friends during the II World War, after 1947 the partition made them enemies. The civil disobedience movement in Amritstar is also focused as the important issue of partition. According to the author Laxmiprasad, he has observed that Manto deconstructs the historical perspective that elevates freedom fighters.

Thus, the book focuses on the consequences of the Partition in nook and corners of South Asia. The book expresses the continuous negative impact of the 1947 tragedy upon all of South Asia today, especially India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. It is very clearly stated that the emotional bond between the people living across the border has not come to an end. Dr. P.V. Laxmiprasad ‘s works are a proof of his outstanding contribution to literature. He is a scholar par excellence, and he aims at promoting Indian Literature in English and Translation. To conclude: Manto a man of truth says “If you find my stories dirty, the society you are living in is dirty, with my stories, I only expose the truth”. Partition wounds haunt people everywhere through literature and partition writers preserve them through literary texts. Critics evaluate them for the readers.


More by :  Dr. R. Manimozhi

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Views: 816      Comments: 2

Comment The partition blues are evident from the reading of this book. It is great to see from the editorial hands of Dr.P.V.Laxmiprasad. The reviewer hss been objective in her evaluation of the book.

Bhaskar Rao
11-Jul-2023 01:05 AM

Comment Partition blues haint our minds aven after 75 years of human tragedy. Really literary texts are a testimony to this fact. Laxmiprasad evaluated the text in a nicety. Manimozhi madam reviewed the work nicely. Congratulations.

01-Jul-2023 20:07 PM

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