Two from the Times: … From “A.I.” to Zeitgeist

Audiences may have expected something more upbeat from Mr. Spielberg and even from the darker-toned Mr. Kubrick � who, after all, directed “2001: A Space Odyssey.” In that film, HAL the computer begins to run amok, but he is vanquished when a human pulls his plug. By the end of “A.I.,” though, there is no person left even to switch off the lights.

Somehow, in collaborating on this futuristic fairy tale, Mr. Spielberg and the late Mr. Kubrick morphed into the brothers grim. Theirs may be a fitting story for anyone who has seen his 401(k) portfolio wiped out by the crash of tech stocks. But it isn’t the story many people feel like paying to watch right now.

… and Shashi Tharoor on Indians writing in English.

The new Indian writers dip into a deep well of memory and experience far removed from those of their fellow novelists in the English language. But whereas Americans or Englishmen or Australians have also set their fictions in distant lands, Indians write of India without exoticism, their insights undimmed by the dislocations of foreignness. And they do so in an English they have both learned and lived, an English of freshness and vigor, a language that is as natural to them as their quarrels at the school playground or the surreptitious notes they slipped each other in their classrooms.

Yet Indian critics still suggest that there is something artificial and un-Indian about an Indian writing in English. One critic disparagingly declared that the acid test ought to be, “Could this have been written only by an Indian?” I have never been much of a literary theoretician � I always felt that for a writer to study literature at university would be like learning about girls at medical school � but for most, though not all, of my own writing, I would answer that my works could not only have been written only by an Indian, but only by an Indian in English.

I write for anyone who will read me, but first of all for Indians like myself, Indians who have grown up speaking, writing, playing, wooing and quarreling in English, all over India. (No writer really chooses a language: the circumstances of his upbringing ensure that the language chooses him.)

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