Plays from a Fractured Land: Punjabi Partition Drama in Translation This anthology contributes to the existing body of Partition writings. Going beyond partition fiction available in different languages, this unique volume has dramas from both sides of the border. A collection of plays on the traumatic experience of the Partition of Punjab ostensibly tells the fraught history of communal. conflicts in Punjab. Various playwrights included in the collection employ irony, paradox, humour and pathos to underline that the Partition was a failure and betrayal of the human ideals. The plays included in the volume thematically range from raising the general question of communal violence to interrogating the even more damaging issue of the victimization of women, who remain the worst victims of the Partition. This collection of original partition plays also includes adaptations of famous stories like Saadat Hassan Manto's "Toba Tek Singh" and Ahmad Nadim Qasmi's "Parmeshar Singh." In all the plays in this volume echo the cacophony of ruptures in the syncretic culture of Punjab, violence committed on the bodies and minds of women, and the throes of rehabilitation of migrants. While telling tales of suffering humanity in the wake of the Partition, these plays interrogate the two-nation theory which fractured centuries-old culture of Punjab.
Atamjit (b. 1950) is an acclaimed Indian playwright and theatre activist who primarily works in Punjabi language. He has also edited books for National Book Trust of India, Orient Blackswan, India and Punjabi Academy, Delhi. He has written 34 plays, which have been staged widely in India, and abroad. Often engaging with the themes of culture, human psychology, social injustice and moral decadence, Atamjit specially focuses on the condition of women in our society. In his understanding, Punjab goes beyond its political borders to include the spirit of this land throbbing in the hearts of diaspora population as well. His plays allow the reader to look at the present critically and re-visit the past afresh.
The intertwinement of art and reality is something that is always given in any discussion on how art relates to reality. Since reality is understood to predate art, and also because of its putative veridic nature, history is often accorded precedence over art. Art is generally thought to be fictive reality. But no thinker has ever denied the fact that despite history antedating art, the relationship between history and art is not merely a one-to-one correspondence with history providing only the facts and art using these facts as its raw material to fashion a beautiful artifact by infusing emotions into it. The mediation of a literary author plays an important role in this transformation.
The tangled relationship of literature and history was an issue that even Aristotle grappled with in his Poetics, and in to that poetry is superior to history, he suggested that the statements of history are in the nature of particulars whereas those of poetry are in the nature of universals, thus denying history any claim to universality. But somehow, those who value history for its truth claims tend to undervalue literature for its reliance on imagination. Conversely, there are many thinkers who suggest that history itself is replete with fiction as it is also a selection made from an entire panorama by historians according to their own bent of mind. Such a position draws vigour from the Kantian idea of unknowability of the "thing in itself". Apart from this, now historiography is also understood as a textual enterprise, a linguistic construct that is subject to a similar kind of deconstructive reading as any other literary text is.
The fact is that the denial of truth-value either to history or to literature indicates positions that are binarist and hence problematic.
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