Insightful essays on diverse aspects of literary criticism
The book entitled "Consciousness: the writer's primary pen" by
Dilshan Boange" is a collection of essays on literary criticism. Among
other things, the book fulfils an important intellectual lacuna in the
area of literary criticism. The book's strength lies in its application
of literary theory particularly in the context of modern and post-modern
A remarkable trait of the author is that his ability to apply
profound literary theories in general and in the context of modernistic
writings spearheaded by seminal authors such as Milan Kundera. In fact
most of the essays are based on Milan Kundera's works such as The Book
of Laughter and Forgetting and Unbearable Lightness of Being. Dilshan
Boange, who is a young academic and creative writer, is also applying
his knowledge of literary theory in the sphere of creative writing as
Kundera's authorial voice
In the essay, Consciousness, the writer's primary pen, the author
looks at Milan Kundera's work in terms of its narrative motifs. The
crust of the argument seems to be that in Kundera's author's voice is
present in Kundera's narrative style as against many medieval English
authors. As a prelude to the argument, the author traverses the
evolution of modern English novel and its present state. He states "The
conventions upheld in the Victorian ethos that marked the form and
structure of the 'novel' were broken through the emergence of what is
called Modernist writing. The forerunner of the 'modern novel' is
generally seen not in English writing but in the Norwegian novel Sult
(which was translated to English as "Hunger") by Knut Hamsun ...It was
through the narrative approach that Hamsun devised for Hunger that the
narrative style /form known as 'Stream of consciousness' was birthed to
the world of literature ...The emphasis for the 'plot' in the 'story'
does not come out as strongly as it would in the conventional novel"
Boange, among other things, pointed out that the author in modernist
novel as those of Kundera's, plays an active role in the 'plot' as
against in the conventional novel where often a character becomes a
mouthpiece of the author. In the case of Milan Kundera, he pointed out
that 'authorial voice' is very much present.
" .....Kundera's 'authorial presence' in his work project a
consciousness that does not stifle its expanses of thinking and
exploration for means by which the writer's idea (s) may be presented in
a novel. Works of such nature would no doubt further new advances in
devising narrative mode(s) for contemporary writing"
In concluding his thesis, the author points out that looking at
Kundera's style with some details that it can be suggested that ' it is
the writer's consciousness ' that crafts the novel and births the
In the article Impressions on Milan Kundera's The book of Laughter
and Forgetting, the author analyses the text and narrative of the novel
from diverse perspectives, offering readers fresh views. Dilshan writes
"Through the course of the novel Kundera presents a thesis of
distinguishing History from the 'past'. Through a character named Mirek,
a victim of communist persecution in Prague, the writer presents a facet
to the Aristotelian theory of 'man by nature is a political animal'. The
past of an individual is seen by the author as integral to the formation
of identity with political motives. "
What Dilshan suggests is that an individual cannot escape from the
political landscape against which he or she acts. In other words, the
past of an individual is greatly impacted on his present and the
constitution of identity.
"The past, resides in memories of an individual who posses it as
personal and perhaps, as undeclared experiences that led to the present.
An interesting and insightful observation is a city's 'defacing and
refacing' as the political landscape which gives form and identity to it
"When Kundera portrays Prague as a victim of successive political
agenda that 'defaced' the city and 'refaced' it on to a path of
transformation that tacks towards unrecognisability, he appears to
suggest that Prague is subordinate to the regime, and was erased of the
linkage it carried with the collective soul of its populace. " The
author illustrates it is not only the character of the city which is
defacing but also the identity of the population which caught up in the
"Within inner sancta of individuals, in their emotions' depth,
memories may be preserved with sanctity. Kundera gently unfolding such
sanctified memories. Memories that may be unsung, unspoken, unwritten
and not so much as breathed beyond parameters of one's being, lest it
swept up by a tide of persecuting political conformity."
The article entitled "A phenomenological glimpse at Hemingway's 'Old
Man' "offers important insights into Hemingway's famous work The Old Man
and the Sea. Before examining the merits and demerits of the author's
attempt analysing the text, it is pertinent, at least, briefly, to look
at Phenomenology developed by German philosopher Edmund Husserl.
Husserl's crust of the philosophy is to perceive phenomena as acts of
consciousness. The author pint out that phenomenological interpretation
is possible by 'objectification of phenomena within the consciousnesses.
In a nutshell, Phenomenology studies the structures of consciousness
from a first person perspective. The internality is the central
structure of an experience which is being directed towards something as
it is an experience of or about some object. In the story The Old Man
and the Sea , the author states " Santiago may be viewed as presenting a
series of phenomena just as much as his body may be looked upon as an
object which could be given a phenomenological reading. For instance,
the author shows that the Santiago's body becomes a phenomenon 'to
understand the world surrounding it'.
"He did not truly feel good because the pain from the cord across his
back had almost passed pain and gone into a dullness that he mistrusted.
But, I have had worse things than that. My hand is only cut a little and
the cramp is gone from the other"
Lyrical richness of The English Patient
One of the most interesting essays in the book is 'The lyrical
richness of The English Patient'. This may be a hitherto unperceived
trait in Ondaatje's The English Patient. Although the critics have
praised The English Patient for its poetic text, the author stresses
that ' rarely that one would find among the bodies/ collections of
existing academic works an in-depth analysis to identify and expound the
elements which would form the 'lyricism' in The English Patient" .
Dilshan's thesis is that Ondaatje evokes sensuality and elusiveness
in the text through schematic imagery/ metaphor in the narration.
"Devising simile or metaphor out of the image of human body in
connection with features and traits of nature and geography and
structuring them in a recurrent pattern of the novel is a significant
characteristic which Ondaatje has crafted with much fineness.". What is
obvious from these insightful observations on the part of the author is
his impressive knowledge of literary theory and their applications in
general and in textual analysis in particular. It should be mentioned
here that the author has fulfilled an important function of an academic.
It is to engage in continuous research in a given field and to produce
The essay entitled "The lyrical richness of The English Patient
"warrants attention of both scholars and literary fans is that it sheds
light on The English Patient from an entirely different perspective. In
further exploring the theme, Dilshan ventures into an area of the novel
which is the desert landscape. The desert landscape in Ondaatje's The
English Patient plays a pivotal role in the evolution of the plot. At a
certain level, the desert landscape almost assumed a role of a character
in the narration.
"The North African desert is very important to the novel as the
setting in which a large part of the story takes place. The quality of
elusiveness can be seen as evoked in the novel through the image and
descriptions of the desert which becomes a thematic element in the
Citing an extract of the text, Dilshan drive home the fact that
Ondaatje has used simple present and present progressive tenses in the
same text in order to infuse lyrical richness into the text. The author,
citing George T. Wright, shows that Ondaatje is using 'lyrical tense'
which the celebrated poets such as Keats and Yeats employed.
"The very opening line of the novel is written in simple present verb
tense 'She stands up in the garden where she has been working looks into
the distance'. The novel is interwoven with both present and the past
tense and this adds to the richness of the 'texture' of the novel which
shows many significant textural features that evoke lyrical quality in
Another factor which contributed to the lyrical richness of The
English Patient, the author states, is the use of verse in prose
narrative. For instance, the author says that Ondaatje has used lyrics
of Jazz songs in the narration in addition to stanzas such as those from
John Milton's "Paradise Lost" in the text. In concluding the essay, the
author states that the short essay on the lyrical richness of "The
English Patient" is not a comprehensive essay on the vast subject area.
But, it is a reading of the Ondaatje's text from a different
Gauging the text as a fabric of words
In the chapter entitled (The) Texture of Text, Dilshan discusses John
Crowe's approaches to literary criticism which led to the birth of 'New
Criticism'. Among the important contribution of this school of literary
criticism is the concept of 'Texture'.
He points out "'Texture' has become an approach by which the form
/structure of a text is analaysed and interpreted since Ransom
propounded it through the New Criticism. And today studies in Letters
have adapted Ransom's methods for texts other than poetry and have
expanded significantly as framework for study and analysis of textual
Stressing the importance of the concept of 'Texture', Dilshan points
out "Academic advancements in Letters in Sri Lanka may benefit
significantly if studies into texture were designed into university
The essay "(The) 'Texture' of texts" the focus is on the academic
methods of studying a text in the modernist ways that were developed by
the academic John Crowe Ransom who expounded his ideas for studying the
form of literature through studying its 'texture'. This essay gives an
outline of developing textual analysis which focuses on the form and
aesthetic quality of a poem or prose rather than the ideology and
politics it may present. The essay also emphasizes how studies in
texture could be useful for universities in Sri Lanka if a course in
creative writing is to be developed in the future.
In the essay on Kunderian Imagology, the author discusses how
Imagology has been used to build true to life images. Dilshan cites
Jayantha Chandrasiri's "Guerilla Marketing" exemplifies the application
of Imagology in contemporary democratic politics.
"The central politico role played by Jackson Anthony tells the
protagonist, an adverting maverick played by Kamal Addararachchi, that
he is not concerned with 'public opinion' since it can be 'created' by
advertising agencies. A point of argument comes very strongly in support
of this, in Kundera's discourse on Imagology where he says "Public
opinion polls are the critical instrument of Imagology's power, because
it enables Imagology to live in absolute harmony with the people"
Untranslatable Czech word
A very insightful cultural aspect of the Czech people comes to light
through the essay -"The Untranslatable Litost of Milan Kundera." The
discussion is based on a section from Milan Kundera's The Book of
Laughter and Forgetting where the concept behind the Czech word Litost
is gauged and commented on in terms of how it may be applied to more
contemporary situations. To understand a word from its cultural
grounding can be at times complex for people across cultures. It is for
this very reason the essay cites the examples of situations which
Kundera presents in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. Critiquing
Kundera's view that Litost (which is a condition of mind and heart that
makes a person feel despair and hoplessness to the point of self
destructiveness) as not being caused (sometimes) by love (which is the
opinion of Kundera) but the breaking down of a love relationship the
essay presents its own analytical commentary.
Comparative literature -Kundera and Ondaatje
The essays "A Rationale for Love in relation to fiction of Kundera
and Ondaatje" and "Age, visage and notions of the eternal" give an
analytical commentary of how concepts of two great writers -Milan
Kundera and Michael Ondaatje can be built as comparative literature. In
the first of these two pieces the concept of 'love' is analyzed through
the novels The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Kundera and The
English Patient by Ondaatje. How each writer gives a rationale and
contextualizes love in the respective narratives provides the reader
insight of how there may be certain similarities in the ideas of each
writer though each novel presents a theme and plot that stands apart
from each other and in fact had been written in two different languages.
Kundera's novel was originally written in Czech. In the second essay the
concept of ageing and the human dilemma of losing one's youth. The
novels Immortality by Kundera and The English Patient by Ondaatje are
the texts that are cited. These two essays can offer an understanding to
the approach of comparative literature, and how similarities in
concepts, and ideas that complement one another in works by two
different authors may be discussed in the context of a common theme.
Dilshan discusses how literatus treat the concept of aging and
mortality. Citing Milan Kundera and Michael Ondaatje , the author points
out " It is the looming of mortality that drives the human being on the
quest for its antithesis. And what then would bring to our consciousness
those two conceptions that are interdependent in their sense of 'meaning
making'? It is clearly the element/aspect of 'visage' that becomes the
driving factor which makes one to be conscious of ageing. "
The book Consciousness; the writer's primary pen is one of the
important publications on contemporary literary theory and is a must
read for both scholars and literature lovers.
A different kind of religious ceremony for 28 Buddhas
Placing of the statues of 28 Buddhas on the apron of the Kiri Vehera
(milky white pagoda) and planting of 28 Bosaplings, will take place on
May 17. The procession carrying the Bosaplings and statues will leave
Panipitiya on May 17 for Kataragama.
Statues of the Buddhas
The Buddha paid his respects to the Bodhi which provided him shelter
by looking at it continuously without batting an eyelid for a week.
Similarly, the Bodhi of diverse plant species provided shelter for 28
Buddhas. Therefore, it is our duty to pay homage to those Bodhi.
Devakarkusha Padaham Sarana Sangamaya of Pannipitiya has organised a
religious ceremony to plant 28 Bosaplings which sheltered 28 Buddhas on
the third apron of the Kiri Vehera and to put up 28 corresponding
statues of Buddhas.
The chairman of the foundation, K.K.W. Upali said planting of 28
Bosaplings was a concept of the chief incumbent of Kiri Vehera Raja Maha
Vihara, the Sangha Nayaka of Ruhunu Magampathuva Ven. (Dr) Aluthvewa
Viraj Punchihewa and Krishanthi Punchihewa said the members of the 28
Bodhi planting committee of the Association had dedicated their time,
resources and energy for the project.
"When Ven. Soratha thera entrusted us with the task, we thought that
it was an easy task. But it was a difficult to find the exact Bodhi
which provided shelter for 28 Buddhas, according to their botanical
names. With the assistance of Susil Gamage and Piyal Marasinghe and with
the patronage of Ayurvedic Research Institute of Nawinna and the
University of Peradeniya, we were able to find the exact 28 Bodhis. With
the help of Director General of the Peradeniya Botanical Gardens, Cyril
Wijesundara, we were able to get down two Bodhis which were not found in
Sri Lanka, from India. Accordingly, we got down Sal and Salala Bodhi
from India". said Viraj Punchihewa and Krishantha Punchihewa.
The planting of 28 Bosaplings began in 2009. First, the Bosaplings
were planted in bowls but later, they were are planted in flower pots.
Now they have grown up to 8-10 feet. They have been planted in such a
way that they can, in future, be transported to Kataragama.
An added feature of the program is the construction of 28 chamber on
the third apron of Kiri Vehera in Kataragama. Each chamber is 8 feet
tall and 4 feet wide and a two hand half feet tall Buddha statue will be
installed in each such chamber and corresponding Budhi will be planted
right behind each chamber. A one acre land has been allocated for the
A large chamber 14 feet tall, 8 feet long and 6 feet wide-will be put
up where a 6 feet tall statue of Gautama Buddha will be installed and an
Asatu Bodhi (Ficus religiose) will be planted right behind it. The
procession carrying the 28 statues of Buddha will leave Pannipitiya at
3.30 a.m on the Vesak Full moon day to reach Kataragama by the evening
on 17, via Homagama, Avissawella, Ratnapura, Pelmadulla, Thidolkatiya,
Udawalawa, Thanamalvila, Lunugamvehera and Tissamaharamaya. The devotees
will be offered the opportunity to pay how age to the 28 statues of
Ground work being carried out at Kiri Vehera in
Kataragama to place 28 statues of the Buddhas
The religious ceremony to place the statues of Buddha in chamber and
planting of Bodhi will commence at 2.30 p.m. at Kiri Vehera in
Kataragama on May 18.
The first Pahan Puja (homage of light) and Atavisi Buddha Puja will
be conducted by Ven. Ehelakanne Sumana thera. The maiden Buddhist sermon
at the opening of 28 Buddhas will be delivered by Shastrapetha Ven.
Polonnaruwe Vachissara thera, a lecturer at the University of Uva. A
Seth Pirith chanting will be held in the evening and the Maha Pirith
will be chanted at 9.30 p.m. The Association has also taken steps to put
up a permanent Daham Mandapaya (a kind of structure) near the third
apron of Kiri Vehera. Chancellor Uva Wellassa University and the Chief
incumbent of Kiri Vehera Rajamaha Vihara, Ven. Aluthvewa Soratha,
Chancellor University of Ruhuna, Attudawe Sri Rahuma thera and the Chief
Minister of Uva Province and Basnayaka Nilame of Kataragama Shashindra
Rajapaksa will attend the series of religious ceremonies.