XII. Literary Criticism & Cinema

Entertaining literature enthralls us with suspense, humor and the intense action of an engaging plot. Superior literature transcends mere action. It presents to the reader the author’s insights into human character and reveals the complex ways in which character and action interrelate to generate chains of consequences and results. Still finer literature reveals the complex interactions between action, individual character and the evolving character of the society in which the action takes place. The greatest literature goes still further. It reveals not only insights of individual and social character but of the character of life itself.

Human Character, Life and Social Evolution in Pride & Prejudice

The process of social evolution effects changes in all aspects of human life, such as the relationship between the classes, attitudes toward wealth and work, marriage, the rights of women and minorities, the arts, literature, politics, etc.  During the French Revolution, England’s ruling aristocracy was deeply concerned about the possible spread of revolutionary fever across the English Channel. As a result, England embarked on a period of rapid social evolution, in which different classes of society intermixed and intermarried, and the aristocracy opened the gates of privilege to the rising Middle Class. Jane Austen’s famous novel Pride & Prejudice, which was written during this period, reflects the evolutionary changes taking place in social attitudes and behavior. The Society is engaged in an in-depth study of the process of social development as expressed in the changes depicted in the novel. In 2008, MSS conducted six seminars in Pondicherry and various parts of Tamil Nadu, including a two-day seminar for executives of BHEL at Ranipet on August 6-7 and a two-day seminar for 60 people in Chennai at the end of August. A detailed study and text commentary on the book as well as a Tamil translation of the novel and the commentary are under preparation. Over the past five years, MSS has contacted more than 25,000 college lecturers and professors of English literature in the USA, Canada and UK to exchange views on this new approach to literary criticism. Janani Harish, representing the Society, delivered two lectures in 2012 addressing faculty members, graduate and postgraduate students of leading colleges in Chennai on the process of social evolution in “Pride and Prejudice”. See http://www.lifeinliterature.org

Shakespeare

In the late 1970s, MSS conducted a study of five of Shakespeare’s most important works – Hamlet, Macbeth, King Lear, Othello, and As You Like It, and developed an original interpretation of these plays based on the supposition that the characters and actions portrayed reflect deeper truths of human character and the character of life. These studies were published in an Indian literary journal and sent to leading Shakespearean scholars in India, England and North America. Subsequently MSS held personal correspondence and discussions with several of scholars to explore responses to its approach.

Novels

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