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Akhtaruzzaman Elias
Saadat Ali Akhand and Mustafa Al Mamun


Akteruzzaman Elias

Aktaruzzaman Elias

Akhtaruzzaman Elias: (*1943 +1997) wrote only two novels - Chilekothar Sepai (Sentry of the Attic, 1986) and Khoabnama (Dream- Elegy, 1996) but he has created a permanent place in the history of Bangla novels. In the context of the novels of Bangladesh, he is possibly the second person highest acclaimed after Syed Waliullah (1922-1971).

Elias started his literary career with the volume of short stories Anya Ghore Anya Swar in 1976, though before it his Chilekothar Sepai began to be published serially in a national daily. By then he came in limelight as a serious and committed fiction writer.

Elias aspired to capture five decades (1940s to 1990s) of his tormented homeland within a broad and multi-layered canvas and this he could do best in his two unforgettable novels - Chilekothat Sepai (Sentry of the Attic) and Khowabnama (Dream- Elegy). While the first portrays the political resurgence which led to the war of liberation in 1971, the second depicts the turmoil of Partition-politics in a village in Bangladesh in the 1940s. Indeed, the second (Khowabnama) has already become a classic by invoking the revolts of the past - Sanyasi and Fakir uprisings in the 18th Century - and linking these with the historic Tebhaga movement of the 1940s. There is no doubt that Elias swore allegiance to the oppressed and that is why he condemned the Partition of Bengal as a ploy to deceive the exploited, both Hindu and Muslim. Both these novels attest to Elias's abiding faith in Marxism.

"Elias' Marxism is much more rigorous than bourgeois Thomas Mann's socialism... he applies his own ideology to trace his own redemptive elegy which is different from primarily humanistic ends" commented Subhoranjan Dasgupta, a renown Bengali novelist.

Awards: Bangla Academy Award (1983),   Alaol Literary Award (1987)   Ananda Award (1996). Elias deserves a reputation as the most powerful novelist in the Bengali literary world after Manik Bandyopadyay.

The book is an evaluation of the creativity and ideology of Akhtaruzzaman Elias, a brilliant novelist and short story writer of Bangladesh. Elias died at the unripe age of 54 (1943-97) and wrote only two novels-Chilekothar Sepai (Sentry of the Attic) and Khowabnama (Dream-Elegy). But these two texts and his short stories, not many in number, have turned him into an icon, remembered and revered. The Author examines Elias's poetry, short stories, two novels, and his cosmovision and then analyses the varied responses of the readers of Bangladesh. Here, aesthetic judgement is refracted through the prism of ideology. In fact, by applying the theories of the neo-Marxians and post-moderns (Theodor Adorno, Frederic Jameson, Jacques Derrida and others) to the creative texts of Elias, he demonstrates how theory and praxis come to be interwoven is a comparatist's discourse. This is the first evaluation of Elias written in English, an author whom illustrious writers like Mahasveta Devi and Hasan Azizul Haque regard as a 'wonder'. Based on a sensitive and meticulous deconstruction of Elias's texts, it should encourage readers to proceed to the texts themselves. The Appendices reveal the personality of Elias, and the comprehensive Bibliography will help researchers interested in Elias, modern literary theory and sociology of literature.

Elegy and Dream
Akhtaruzzaman Elias' Creative Commitment
Author: Subhoranjan Dasgupta

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