January 08, 2018 08:58 PM

Chandigarh (Face2News)

Vikram Seth, the distinguished Indian novelist, enthralled the audience of book lovers at Panjab University on Monday where he was invited for the 2nd Urmi Kessar Memorial Oration.Hosted by Panjab University, Vikram Seth spoke on “Thoughts on Being a Writer” by recording his long literary journey from The Golden Gate to A Suitable Boy

Being an economist by training, Seth claims that this transition came forth during his days at Stanford University where he wrote his first verse novel The Golden Gate in 1986, which was based on his readings of Aleksandr Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin, a book that impacted him enormously. Having a bent towards poetry, and pushing his Economics dissertation away, Seth infuses imagination, love and music into this piece of verse writing that sets him out on an everlasting expedition towards literary aestheticism. His magnum opus, A Suitable Boy, which came much later belonged more to classic realism and enabled him to paint the chronicle of Indian culture authentically. Dwelling considerably on his translations of Chinese poetry, Seth read out his translations of the Chinesepoets Du Fu and Wang Wei’s “Thoughts on a Travelling Night” and “Zhongnan Retreat”.

On the subject oftranslations in India, whether he was satisfied with the ongoing work, Seth said that although the Italians thinktranslation is treason, it was as important an exercise as is writing in the first place. Without translations, itwould be difficult for a non-Anglophone writer to make his voice heard, which was a major problem. Seth himself has been lucky to have a good Hindi translation of The Suitable Boy, of which Harish Trivedi, the critic, has felt that the translation is as good as the original. The interlocutor, Prof Pushpinder Syal, requested Seth to speak of his life with his parents.

Seth said  poignantly: “Life doesn’t cease to be a comedy because people die; nor does it cease to be a tragedy if people laugh” while reminiscing about losing his parents. Seth’s mother, Leila Seth, was the first female judge of the Delhi High Court, known famously for being a member of the Verma Committee that revolutionized rape laws in India, whereas his father was an executive.Indeed, the evening was livened by Vikram Seth’s sense of wit and conversational informality which made theevent a fitting tribute to Mrs Urmi Kessar.Prof Arun Kumar Grover,Vice Chancellor Panjab University alongwith Prof Meenakshi Malhotra, DUI,Col GSChadda ,Registrar, various Senators, Syndicate members,Deans, faculty, students and the elite book lovers of the city were present on the occasion in a jam packed auditorium.

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