Friday, 27 May 2011
Calculus of Power
Calculus of Power: Modern American Political Novel
Nibir K. Ghosh
New Delhi: Creative Books, 1997. pp. 255 Price: Rs. 500. ISBN-13: 9788186318492.
Through a close analysis of eighteen American political novels written between 1890 and 1990, Calculus of Power offers interesting critical insights into the twilight zones of American life and polity. The focus of attention is on issues and events such as the haunting spectre of Communism, the perceptive threat of Fascism, the racial dilemma of a nation at loggerheads with its own democratic principles, the ideals of world peace contrasted with the imperialistic designs of America in Vietnam, the intricacies of struggle for the emancipation of Eve, and the acid test of American Justice in the Sacco-Vanzetti case and the trial of the Rosenbergs. These manifold manifestations of manipulative politics give rise to what may be called "the calculus of power." Trapped in the vortex of power dynamics, the protagonists in the novels struggle valiantly to evolve their own strategies for survival. The author's fresh appraisal and thought provoking analysis of the twentieth century American political novel makes the book a must reading for both scholars and practitioners of power politics.
The Politics of Economics: It can’t Happen Here (Sinclair Lewis), In Dubious Battle (John Steinbeck), All the King’s Men (Robert Penn Warren), Vineland(Thomas Pynchon).
In the Theatre of War: For Whom the Bell Tolls (Ernest Hemingway), Catch-22 (Joseph Heller), The Armies of the Night (Norman Mailer), Slaughterhouse-Five (Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.).
Racial Rumblings: Native Son (Richard Wright), Invisible Man (Ralph Ellison), Another Country (James Baldwin), The Bluest Eye (Toni Morrison).
The Awakening of Eve: The Awakening (Kate Chopin), Daughter of Earth (Agnes Smedley), Fear of Flying (Erica Jong), The Color Purple (Alice Walker).
American Justice on Trial: Boston (Upton Sinclair), The Book of Daniel (E.L. Doctorow).
Bibliography & Index
“Art is a representation of reality at a rarefied level. This is why a political novel writer can sometimes fathom the spirit of his age with greater dexterity than a philosopher or a historian. This is why when Nibir K .Ghosh undertakes to map out the contours of the Modern American Political Novel, he sets for himself a formidable task, a task that encompasses a clear understanding of nearly three generations of American novelists; their age, their aesthetics, their dilemmas and the broad features of American national life as well as life lived as individual Americans…It is an interesting study, a parade of some of the best of American novelists.”
– M. Zeyaul Haque, Encounter, September-October, 1998.
“This book is a fascinating account of the dichotomy between the “real” and the “ideal” in American internal politics as well as international diplomacy. There is no doubt that every society and every nation in the world suffers from this dichotomy…After reading Ghosh’s book, one would know how important it is to study novels, among other forms of literature, as part of the social science research. After an analysis of eighteen American political novels, Ghosh points out that these novels are committed to the politics of “fact” rather than to the politics of “imagination” and present valuable “centres of information” by providing “insight and understanding into the dense and perplexing medium of politics and diplomacy.”
- Dr. Chintamani Mahapatra, Third World Impact, October, 1998.