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Release of ‘El Dorado’, an anthology on World Literature  edited by Dr. Bhaskar Roy

A REPORT

On 15 February 2007 at 8,15, ‘El Dorado’, an anthology on World Literature  edited by Dr. Bhaskar Roy was released at Don Bosco School, Agartala by Rev. Father M.C. George, Principal. Mr Sankar Das, Chairperson, Agartala Municipal Council, and Mr Nidhu Bhushan Hazra, a distinguished litterateur, graced the occasion as the chief guest and a guest of honour respectively. Mr Sankar Das released the annual magazine of the school. The Don Bosconians 2007 Following is the speech delivered by Dr Bhaskar Roy Barman at the function.

SPEECH

In his inaugural speech on the eve of his releasing the book, Rev. Father  M.C. George, principal, Don Bosco School.,has enlightened you on the nature and contents of the book, an anthology on World literature entitled ‘El Dorado’ I have edited and Authors Press, New Delhi has published in two volumes The title itself suggests the richness and variety of the papers featured in this anthology. Even the publisher himself has acknowledged the
book as a magnum opus and has, so to say, professed himself proud at having published it. Majority of the contributors, barring myself, are more or less internationally important figures in literary and academic spheres. They are, to name a few, Prof K. Satchidanandan, secretary of the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, Dr Mohit K. Roy, formerly professor at Burdwan University, Dr A.S.  Dasan, professor at the University of Mysore, Dr John Light, Professor at London University, Dr Saros Cowasjee, professor at the University of Regina, Canada, Dr P.P. Giridhar. Profeesor attached to the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, Oliver Friggierie, Professor, the University of Malta, Prof Vera Shamina, Razan State University, Russia, Prof. Tanure Ojaide, theUniversity of North Carolina, USA and Prof Wolfgang Gortschacher, the University of Salzburg, Austria. As many as thirty nine papers are featured in this anthology. A pertinent question proposes itself; What has led me to edit such a mammoth book such as no one has ever before attempted? It is true that there are few books available on the market on world literature, but they are more or less compilations of articles that already existed scattered over different journals and books; but this anthology, ‘El Dorado’ features papers written on different aspects of national literatures from a completely new perspective on invitation. I think it is worth mentioning in this connexion I had to reject  as many as fifteen papers, even though they had been sent in on my invitation, because they could not meet up with the postulated requirements, and even had to rewrite three or four papers to make them worth inclusion. I’m afraid, I have digressed from the main point, the question:. What has led me to edit such mammoth book? The answer lies in the depth of this speech. The editing of this anthology is the outcome of an endeavour I have made all alone over the last three years to have an international literary organization called World Literature Society formed worldwide and is linked to two noble purposes. One of the two purposes is to bring all national literatures on a common platform which the World Literature Society will provide and the other purpose is to persuade all universities all over the world of the urgent need to open a separate department on world literature Ansted University, Malaysia has promised me it will consider opening a separate department on world literature. . My endeavour has met with some success. Many scholars, poets and writers of international repute, including the contributors to the anthology, have spontaneously responded to my appeal and aligned themselves with the cause of forming the World Literature Society worldwide by associating themselves with it as founder-members on the permanently formed international committee and on the advisory board attached to the international committee. You might be interested to know that Mr M.C. George is on the advisory board. A few other international literary organizations, such as World Academy of Arts and Culture, France and the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, among others, have recognized the World Literature Society. The UNESCO has put the World Literature Society on the list of international literary organizations it has approved. In editing the anthology I got a profusion of co-operation and enthusiasm from around the world. What delighted and did me proud was that many British and American journals, such as, Light’s List, UK. Orbit, UK, Bulletins of  California Writers Club, USA, newsletter if the World Academy of Arts and Culture, France, inter alias, carried the news of my editing the anthology and the news circulated throughout the world added a new dimension to the anthology and I was inundated with congratulations. Much before the anthology was published, it had been discussed in the academic and literary spheres and as soon as it got published it has become the No.1 best-seller I have been endeavouring, as is evident in the anthology, to foster and cultivate world literature on the platform of the World Literature Society..
 
Two pertinent questions have raised themselves when a few friends of mine happen to have heard of the anthology: what do I understand about world literature or is it a conglomeration of all national literatures? I think it is not a mere conglomeration of all national literatures. Goethe, German poet, first conceived of the World Literature and the uniqueness of his concept is the fullest development of the national character in each of its components and the concept, if properly understood, can lead the nations to a greater understanding of their different national characters and characteristics and, above all, their various contributions to civilizations. World literature can be interpreted in two ways: a) as a synthesis of all national literatures in their entirety; b) as merely comprising those works which have already attained recognition beyond their national boundaries. I think they deserve to be read at the back of beyond.

The term, ‘World Literature’ immediately brings to mind a feeling of liberation, of such gain in space and scope as one feels the moment one enters a darker and more airy room. However vague the ex-pression is, it at least suggests the intellectual barriers between peoples. Many books, as all of us know, have crossed the boundaries of a nationality and been translated; but they do not in a proper sense form part of world literature. We cannot deny the fact that it is often the poorest specimens of light or sensational literature that captivate the world, mere fashions of the moment that vanish from the rank of international literature as rapidly as they did appear there. When in ordinary speech we talk of world literature we do not certainly mean a product of fashion, however widely acclaimed, but we speak of literature which has a significance transcending not only nationality but also time.

I am afraid, I have taken much time and this long speech may have jarred on the patience of the listeners. I shall say just a few words to make the concept of world literature a bit clearer and that of the world literature society.  Goethe conceived of world literature as a link between national literatures  and, thus, between nations themselves for the exchange of ideal values. Such literature includes all writings by which people learn to understand and make allowances for each other and which bring them more closely together. It is a literary bridge over dividing rivers, a spiritual highway over dividing mountains; it is an intellectual barter, a traffic in ideas between peoples, a literary market in which nations bring their treasures for exchange, World literature is an intellectual sphere in which, through the voices of their writers, people speak no longer to and of themselves, but each other. World literature, in short, is an international conversation, an intellectual interest in each other, a mutual helping and a process of supplementing each other in the things of the mind.

This concept of world literature I have discussed above has propelled me into having endeavoured for more that three years all alone to have the World Literature Society formed worldwide with a view to providing a platform for the international conversation the world literature is. Literary people all over the world call me father of the World Literature Society and. I regard Fr M.C. George as a friend of world literature.

To conclude, I thank all the listeners for their wonderful patience and hail
them.
Love and regards. .