Assertion of Feminine Self: A Critique of Shashi Deshpande's A Matter of Time

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Recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award in 1990 for her novel, That Long Silence,Shashi Deshpande’s success as a novelist can be gauged by the vast readership she enjoys, and the number of critical studies available on her works. A brief survey of criticism available on Deshpande’s fiction shows that her critics have remained all along preoccupied with the question of woman in her fiction. The treatment of woman has been discussed with some shift of focus from one aspect or the other of her existence. The interest of critics in the treatment of woman and her problems is certainly understandable, because most of her novels have women as their protagonists. Almost all the women characters of Deshpande are shown to be the victim of the patriarchal thinking of society. the roles they are expected to play are not in consonance with the freedom and individual identity they aspire for themselves. Consequently the feelings of alienation from their bodies their aspirations and ideals and sometimes even from the work routine they are trapped in appear to be a common feature of their life. What differentiates Shashi Deshpande from her contemporary writers is that though her novels present a world afflicted with hatred, fear, anger, loneliness and emptiness they are not shrouded in overwhelming and unrelieved gloom. Hers is not an art of death but of life. It takes an artist like Deshpande to affirm the value of life and the human potentials to emerge out of the darkness of despair, while describing the realities of disintegration, disappointments and loneliness. Though the glimmers of positive outlook can be witnessed here and there, in some of the minor figures also, it is the protagonist, who mainly through her thi... ... middle of paper ... ...rry about us” (246) and both Kalyani and Aru, standing on threshold, bid farewell to Gopal. Works Cited 1Usha Bande, “Resistance and Reconciliation: Shashi Deshpande’s A Matter of Timeand Small Remedies,” Writing Difference: The Novels of Shashi Deshpande, ed. Chanchla K. Naik (New Delhi: Pencraft International, 2005), p. 198. 2Vimala Rama Rao, “In Conversation with Shashi Deshpande,” The Fiction of Shashi Deshpande, ed. R.S. Pathak, p. 257. 3Shashi Deshpande, A Matter of Time(New Delhi: Penguin Books, 1996), p.254. Allsubsequent references to the text of the novel are from the same edition, and page numbers in all such cases have been given within parentheses immediately after the quotations. 4Vimala Rama Rao, p. 256. 5Meenakshi Mukherji, “Sounds of Silence (Review of A Matter of Time),” Indian Review of Books, March-April 1997, p. 31. 6Vimala Rama Rao, p. 257.

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