Literary and Historical Discourse in Girish Karnad's Tughlaq

Gundur, N. S.
June 2012
Atlantis (0210-6124);jun2012, Vol. 34 Issue 1, p81
Academic Journal
Literary Criticism
Self-reflexivity has been identified by many critics as a distinctive feature of Girish Karnad's dramatic texts. Accordingly, some of his plays, such as Tughlaq, Naga-Mandala and The Fire and the Rain, reflect on the nature of art and literature. They say something, overtly and at times covertly, about literature--poetry, playwriting and storytelling, drama and ritual. Hence, these plays can be read not only as literature but also as inquiries into the nature of literature itself. The present study reads a sub-text of Girish Karnad's Tughlaq as a site which constructs a discourse on historical thinking and literature. Deploying the post-structuralist theory of textuality, especially that of Roland Barthes, it is argued here that a sub-text of the play, while creating the categories of poetic and historical, validates the literary by juxtaposing history and poetry dialectics. Reading the Tughlaq-Barani connection as more than that of a king and a historian --i.e. inding a poet in Tughlaq and a historical discourse in the interaction between Tughlaq, the king, and Barani, his confidant-- the present study views Tughlaq as a critique of historical writing. A close reading, especially of Tughlaq's and Barani's speech, forms the substance of this analysis.


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