Translator(s): D S Rao
ISBN/UPC (if available): 8188575070
This Telugu classic in included in Masterpieces of Indian Literature, compiled by the National Book Trust, India. Written shortly before the political decolonization of India in 1947, when all values were simmering in a cauldron, Gopichand created a unique character: Sitarama Rao jolted the Telugu readers. Heir to a feudal order, the anti-hero is lost in theoretical thinking and cannot cope with the harsh realities around; he goes mad and kills himself. Admirers have compared his madness to that of King Lear and Hamlet; while critics carped on the novel’s echoes to Gorki.
This is the first psychological novel in Telugu literature. It is symbolic, selective and representational in treatment, and poses social, political and spiritual issues in a haunting manner.
The Bungler, originally written in Telugu and published in 1947 as Asamardhuni Jeevayatra, written by T Gopichand was at a time of personal despondency and national turmoil. Gopichand created a unique anti-hero in this novel, Sitaram Rao is a well-educated, wealthy, feudal landlord, who delights in helping others and settles huge debts for petty repayments. Soon he becomes impoverished, and expects gratitude and help in return for the help he has rendered earlier, in vain. His grudge against the world leads him alternately to philosophical discourse, a rationalist path and finally an existentialist bend. His split personality advocates now one point of view, and then its exact opposite. The novelist achieves the interiorization of the outer and the externalization of the inner world of a character as no one has ever done before him in Telugu literature.
Gopichand subverts many icons of his time. His mouthpiece, Grandfather Ramayya posits a postcolonial possibility, of harnessing knowledge to improve the quality of life. In this tightly crafted short novel, it is remarkable because it foreshadows early attempts at magic realism in Telugu and anticipates the discourse of the absurd as seen in the work of Marquez, Grass, Kundera, Okri and Rushdie.
D S RAO, PhD, is a former Editor of Indian Literature, the Sahitya Akademi’s literary and academic bimonthly. He is the author of the research work, Three Decades. A literary critic, his writings appeared in several dailies and journals, including the Indian express, The Times of India, The Hindu, Patriot, Newstime, Link, India Magazine and Indian Literature.
After his retirement from the Sahitya Akademi, he taught English Literature at some Delhi University colleges, and turned to translation from Telugu to English.
The Bungler’s Wife
The Bungler’s Idealism
The Bungler’s Maternal Uncle
The Bungler’s Valour
The Bungler’s End