Research scholar, English
Balchandra Rajan is well-known critic who has to his credit standard critical books on Eliot, Yeats and Milton. But as a creative writer he has been severely criticised. It is pointed out that Rajan has failed to understand Indian culture and tradition and the language he has used is artificial. V.Y. Kantak objects to Rajan’s “mannered prose” and according to Prema Nandkumar, ‘the main weakness of the novel lies in the uncertainty of its syle. “D. McCutchion point out that B. Rajan “has no gifts as a novelist” and The Dark Dancer reveals his “astonishing insensitivity to the language.” The Dark Dancer is a significant achievement in the post-independence India fiction. The use of myths and symbols in the novel has attained great artistic success. A close examination of these myths and symbols meets the charges of the critics that Rajan is unfamiliar with the country of his birth and that his language is artificial.
Myth has always been a literary device but in the recent times it has been employed to structure the chaotic modern condition in which traditional cultural values have disintegrated. The use of myth, as T.S. Eliot has pointed out, affords the artist both the necessary artistic control to explore his subject and the means of generalization. Myths are means to transmute personal destiny in to the destiny of mankind. Northrop Frye observes that myth is expressive of the total vision of the human situation, human destiny, human aspirations and fears.
Myth is an aesthetic means of expression of the complex interaction of the self and the world. G.S. Kirk points out that myth are a narrative with a dramatic structure and bears “important message about life in general and life within society in particular.” According to Rene Wellek myth is “the narrative or story, the archetypal or universal, the symbolic representation as events in time of our timeless ideals, the programmatic or eschatological, and the mystic.”
The central concern of the novel is the predicament in which the protagonist finds himself on his return on India staying for ten years in a foreign country. Krishnan is in a state of dilemma. The problem that confronts him is that of identity the choice between two loyalties, the East and the West. He consents to the constrictions of an arranged marriage with the hope that is “would lead him to the precipice of belonging, the point of no return and no escape. Cambridge is pursuing him in the seductive form of Cynthia. Krishnan temporarily forgets his desire for belonging and stars living with Cynthia when his Hindu wife Kamala is away from the scene so as to attend upon her ailing mother. He was happy with her because she only wanted Him. There was no frame that he had to walk through for the fondness to come glowing in to her face…….. He was on an island, self, sustained and ringed by His contentment, but in front of him the continent Lay, black desert, barren snow, jungle and village And the volcanic rocks of poverty, calling to him, Inciting him, but no longer to be toucher…………
Krishna would like to follow the ideals of Kama – “No one surpassed Kana in valor or skills of arms …….. Even at the end he stayed unconquered.” Kama is one of those who fell victim to the inhuman cruelty of caste-system and rigid moral values. Karma was “the democratic man trying to be judged on his mistake the same way as Oedipus did not the retribution was greater than the flaw. But Karma is not the whole picture on Indian society. One must also remember Nanda who is a far better symbol of India- “He was a pariah. The priests wouldn’t allow him even on the steps of the temple. But he prayed and prayed, and because of the strength of his devotion to God, the statue of Nandi, the great bull, moved aside, so that he could see the dancing image of Shiva.
Krishna is full of indignation against the Indian way of life in which man as an individual does not matter much. “Iron out the man for the convenience of the machine. If the system resulted in unreasonable consequences, blame the individual for getting in its way. As a result of his Cambridge education and Western influence, Krishnan is attracted towards the superficial glamour of Western culture and is full of rebellion against the mystery and muddle of Indian culture because of moral degradation that has set in social life here. But he is not totally cut off from the cultural mores of India and his revolt is merely superficial. Moreover, he cannot stick to the West for ever because he lacks it emotional basis. By and large, he is dangling between two cultures. Rationally he is inclined towards the West while his emotions are curved to the pull of the East:
He ought to rebel, but rebellion seemed inadequate When the forces opposing him were counterbalanced by the force within him that conformity claimed. A Career arranged, a marriage predetermined. His private and public life inexorably charted. It should have shocked him and to some extent it did, but was the Shock anything more than superficial, a tingle on the Skin of his upbringing? ……….
He had the strange sense of dance, of being the ritual and the ritual’s object.
1 Indian Fiction in English, ed.-P. K. Singh Atlantic publishers, New Delhi-2001 P.-77
2 BAL Chandra Rajan: The Dark Dancer, New York Simon and Suchustger, 1958, P.-01
3 Partition of India: From Wikipedia the Free encyclopedia.
4 Quoted by H.S. Saxena Balchandra Rajan in Essays in criticism: Indian Fiction in English ed. O.P. Bhatnagar (Jaipur: Rachna Prakashan 1980) P-30
5 Northrop frye, Antomy of criticism 4 essays New jersey Princeton uni. Press, 1971 P136
6 G.S. Kirk, The nature of Greek myths (penguin books 1974.) P-28-29
7 Rene Wellek and Austin Warren, Theory of literature (1942, penguin books 1968) P-191.