Guest Post 5


It was a lazy Sunday afternoon in, what I consider to be the most spectacular season of the city, the Rainy season. There I sat at my window sill reading for the n-th time ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ while the computer played ‘Lemon Tree’. The freshness of the leaves, the amazingly brightness unto horizon, renewed energy percolating every iota of air/element present in this beautiful world, all bring a new fervour within me. Ahhhh…..a perfect Sunday afternoon for me…

All of a sudden my friend walks in & asks me, “What is this song you are listening to? Is the band even really a band or just some small time people playing a random song?”. (It was the original version of the song by none other then the legendary band, The Beatles.)

Left stunned by the new entrant’s disturbance in my peaceful reading posture, the comments left me flabbergasted with a thorn pricking somewhere within my heart. Not only was he ignorant of John Lennon, Sir Paul McCartney, George Harrison & Ringo Starr, he was also oblivious of the wonderful book that I held in my hand. The back handed slap on my choice of music was followed with a dig at the author of the book in my hand (who, according to Abraham Lincoln, could surely be held responsible for the American Civil War).

Most people I know these days swear by Dan Brown’s collection of novels or the innumerable books written by Jeffrey Archer, Sydney Sheldon, John Grisham, David Baldacci etc. etc. the so called modern authors… Ask them which is there favourite line or scene from there novels and the only reply one gets is the sound of silence. Call it a pregnant pause if u wish, but you shall hear no sound coming out of the well read person.

Isn’t it alarming? If one claims to have read the book then surely there has to be a favourite scene or a dialogue so commendable that you can recite it word to word or a character that you wish to emulate at the least! One learnt about the intricacies of Christianity in Dan Brown’s works through the protagonist, the ever youthful Robert Langdon. But if I ask any one to characterize this fictional being, one is at a loss of words.

One of the most popular books among the kid-circle or for that matter even the parent-circle is the Harry Potter series. They surely have instilled a passion for reading in the children of today, but only for these books. They fail to enchant the reader to step into the world of English literature.

Who is to be blamed for this? The reader?
The poor reader digests only that is provided within the bounds of the book.

So that means it’s not the reader. Right!!!…it is the books in general these days. (Read: the authors)

Personally, I love the new generation authors too. But this love for their work is the outcome of the hard work of all the plethora of authors of days gone by. It is through reading the works of the legends that one develops an interest, a flare for reading. It’s the foundation laid down by the innumerable authors of the past, vis-à-vis Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, R.L.Stevenson, to even authors like Eric Segal, Ayn Rand, Margaret Mitchell.

Gone are the days when people would have waited & fought tooth & nail to get a ticket to watch the latest drama or script written by Shakespeare being enacted in the Elizabethan age.

There is no book that can still be able to get people to recall its dialogues.

Where is the dialogue like “What can you say about a twenty-five-year-old girl who died?
That she was beautiful. And brilliant. That she loved Mozart and Bach. And the Beatles. And me.”
or “There he stood naked by the edge of the Cliff.”? Or the most famous dialogue from Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, “Please sir, can I have some more?”

Somehow there is this feeling of praise for all the modern authors forgetting the extremely solid & profound groundwork lay down by the innumerable writes of auld-laud-syne. For murder mysteries we swear by David Baldacci, Frederick Forsyth but ignore the father of detectives, Sherlock Homes created by Sir Author Conan Doyle or the numerous thrilling novels by Agatha Christie. In the children’s section we have Harry Potter forgetting the most popular of them all, Enid Blyton. We are willing to read a 1000+ paged book by Vikram Seth on the search for ‘A Suitable Boy’ but not pick up the legendary Russian author, Leo Tolstoy’s works ‘War and Peace’ or ‘Anna Karenina’. Patrons of John Grisham’s court-room drama sometimes fail to acknowledge the contribution of erstwhile Erle Stanley Gardner in that genre of books through his series on the lawyer-detective, Perry Mason.

We remember films such as ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, ‘Gone With The Wind’, ‘Pride & Prejudice’series on BBC, ‘The Exorcist’ but somehow tend to not acknowledge the basic element of interest in them, the actual script being the book! Basing a movie on a strong book is bound to aid the success of the movie.

The modern authors fill up their novels with words, storyline & a beautiful description of the surrounding or some vile activities occurring during the course of the morbid storyline. They fail to add in a humane touch or element in their novels. Lost are the Jeeves, Oliver Twists, Huckleberry Finns, Scarlett O’Haras, Howard Roarks or for that matter even the foolishly romantic Oliver Barretts from the current world of literature…

-Nikhil Rao

2 thoughts on “Guest Post 5

  1. friggin hell… i'm glad i'm the first one:-)… i dunno how to exactly tell u the brilliance and sheer simplicity of your work… i got goosebumps when i read "please sir, can I have some more?"… i know it hurts me too when i find my peers not knowing "what" David Copperfield is….if the dont know Dickens and Sir Conan Doyle i really done expect them to know Count Tolstoy… i'm so glad to see that there are many more "freaks" around…thats what my buddy's call me when they see me READING…:-(PS: btw, i know that line is from "The Love Story"…lol and who can forget the youthful exhuberance of Scout Finch…PPS: gawddamm man…. u made my day….


  2. hey…thanks a ton for your praise….i am totally a "freak"(to use the words of your pal)…..the part which hurt me the most is that they fail to realize that characters like Sherlock Homes, Perry Mason et al were a result of a painstaking effort by the authors..even The Godfather for that matter wasn't created by Marlon Brando or Al Pacino…& i honestly loved reading your article too….it brought a smile on my face reading your narration style…


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