RESPONSE TO ARTICLES [Archives:2007/1023/Education]

February 8 2007

In reply to the review entitled 'What is the longest English novel all about?' by Dr Prashant K. Sinha

I have read with great interest the review published by you (18-20 Dec 06) by Dr Prashant K. Sinha, of the volume on Vikram Seth's A SUITABLE BOY edited by Dr Murari Prasad, to which I am a contributor. This letter is directed to both Dr Sinha and to yourselves as editors.

I was extremely pleased to come across so detailed and thoughtful a review of this anthology. Dr Sinha's comments have, indeed, induced me to make some small revisions to (the on-line version of ) my own contribution, which you may find at:, with a credit to the review.

Regarding the comments on my own chapter: 1) The reviewer is quite right: the character Kabir is a student of history, not maths. The confusion arises because his father is a celebrated maths professor. I would point out, though, that my essay has been published in three versions with three different editors, and that nobody, editor or peer-reader, spotted this slip till now. I thank the reviewer for his eagle eye, and have made the correction on my on-line text. 2) Concerning the fictional Brahmpur, Seth himself has said it is a composite city. I have at Dr Sinha's prompting added Patna, where Seth spent part of his childhood, to its genesis, but have not removed the references to the other North Indian cities (Varanasi, Ayodhya, Agra) that are, I believe, also part of Brahmpur's make-up. 3) Whether or nor the character Firoz is a 'wastrel', frequenting courtesans as he does, is, I feel, a matter of opinion and I have therefore not changed that point.

Regarding the other chapters, I enjoyed the dispassionate and well-substantiated discussion. I agree with Dr Sinha that Mala Pandurang's reading of the women characters is – while she as an excellent scholar – rather one-sided: the novel contains numerous examples – Savita, Meenakshi, Kakoli – of women who get what they want in the world. Considerably more one-sided is Ian Almond's tendentious piece on the novel's supposed negative representation of Muslim characters, and I certainly endorse the reviewer's view that Dr Prasad's contribution to the volume was a very necessary riposte to Almond, successfully redressing the balance.

All in all, I greatly appreciated the way the review went into the strong and less strong points of the contributions one by one, always backing up its comments with specific reference to Seth's novel itself. It really was a model piece of literary analysis of which your newspaper may be proud.

Christopher Rollason, Ph.D.

[email protected]

Metz, France,

Dr Christopher Rollason is a British national living in Metz (France). He graduated with First Class Honours in English literature from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1975, and obtained his Ph.D. from York University in 1988. Until 1987 he was a member of the Department of Anglo-American Studies at Coimbra University (Portugal). He is a member of the Spanish Association of Anglo-American Studies, and has collaborated as a guest lecturer with Kakatiya University (Warangal, Andhra Pradesh) and CIEFL (Hyderabad) (both 2002), and as Visiting Professor with JNU, Delhi (2006).

Dr Rollason's personal website is at:

Education Supplement: An overview

When I came to Sana'a in the month of November,2006 I was very inquisitive about English newspapers published here. While I was in India, the very morning used to have a start with the English daily. To some extent, my search came to an end, when I had a cursory glance over the Yemen Times. The Education Supplement of the esteemed newspaper dated 1st January,2007 is before me. This Supplement presents before us the varied topics on various subjects. It is a fruitful attempt to draw the readership. The article by Dr. Ayid Sharyan on '20th century poetry' is highly informative and it will enable the students of literature to enrich their knowledge and scholarship. 'A tale of two teachers' by Prof.M.N. Bose reveals a new vista for the English teachers who are very careless about the psychology of the students. Dr.Ali M. Al-Mashhadani has presented a close study of the community dental public health education with the expected scope and significance in Yemen. The poem “Within the boundaries of my feet” by Dr.Anil K Prasad tempts us to creativity and subjective observation of the world around. The presenter of the Supplement Dr. Ramakant Sahu seems to be worried about how to inculcate the spirit of English knowledge among the students and the readers who are in pursuit of betterment. On the whole, this Supplement caters to the need of an inquisitive mind.

Dr.Mohammad Ejaz Alam

Assistant Professor of English,

Faculty of Education & Arts

University of Science & Technology

Sana'a, Republic of Yemen

In respone to Dr. Kundu's “Teaching like a farmer in Yemen”

The first English article I went through after landing in Yemen (25th Nov. 2006) was Dr. Manmath Kundu's “Teaching like a farmer in Yemen” (Education Supplement, 4th Dec. 2006).

As an Assistant Professor in the Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Hodeidah University, my feelings have been bottling up, but I could only muster within me. Though I shared the experience with my colleagues, I doubted whether I should venture to weed out the learners' difficulties. At this juncture a good analogy between farming and teaching came out. The article is a solid background on which I can tread and I can contribute, what and how much I can with my iota of experience and learning.

Presently Dr. Kundu's article keeps my farming career carry do effectively. Also my Head of Department of English Dr. M. Nagarajan, helps us as a catalyst. This would nurture us always as long as a real farmer teaches in Yemen.

Days are not far off when I can reap a bumper crop significantly – satisfying both the students and myself – which is all ye need to know on earth.

Dr. M. Baskaran

[email protected]

Assistant Professor,

Dept. of English,

Faculty of Arts,

Hodeidah University