Summary of thousand faces of night
The Thousand Faces of Night by Githa HariharanGita Hariharans novels are a bit complicated. I have familiarity with her writing, in her book When Dreams Travels, a fictional continuation of 1001 Nights. Her language is flowery and intricate and never paves way for fast reading. Though I actually loved that book and the stories, this one couldnt spark my interest.
The Thousand Faces Of Night, is the story of Devi, a Brahmin girl who returns to her native, Madras after getting a degree from America. The novel progresses further with the marriage of Devi arranged by her mother, her suitable but unsatisfying marriage, her brief escape from reality with a lover and finally her coming back to her mother. The basic flaw, I felt was the characterization of Devi. She is neither strong nor weak. The author never tells the reason for her disinterestedness in life. Devi herself doesnt know and neither the readers are made aware the reason for her bouts of loneliness. From the start of the story till the end I felt the protagonist to be in constant depression for reasons unclear.
Devis life is influenced by many women. Her grandmother who told her stories of great heroes but subtly reminded her that women always have to fight their own war; her mother who was mentally strong and made sure Devi had a comfortable and secured life; the old caretaker of her husbands house Mayamma who learned to survive against all odds and becomes her companion; and finally her missing mother-in-law Parvatamma, whose story gives her inspiration. The men too played a prominent part in her life. Her weak but lovable father, her husband who could give her everything except time, her father-in-law who teachers her good virtues of a wife but also argues that a wife should always be honored and respected and her lover Gopal who treats her as his inspiration and whose music makes Devis soul soar in the skies. All these people play a substantial role in Devis life and she flows along with the situations neither fighting nor facing.
The tough and also the best aspect of her books is her choice of words. Hariharan doesnt simply write words. She weaves them like a web and if we dont absorb them properly, we are stuck in a tangled mess. Her words are beautiful, poetic and make us flow along with them; also making it difficult to grasp the meaning. Too many metaphors, too many similies, and the actual story is lost somewhere. Between the pages along with the character depth of the protagonist, the readers interest also vanishes.
A book to be cherished for its sublime style and exquisite texture of words but not for the story and characters.
The Thousand Faces of Night (Githa Hariharan)
No other form of art can capture the range and diversity of human experience the way a poem can. Within these pages, you will find Salman Rushdie is the author of thirteen previous novels - Grimus, Midnight's Children for which he won the Booker Prize and the Best of the What makes a good Indian woman? But the women of the hoary past come back to claim Devi through myth and story, music and memory.
Magazine article New Internationalist. This is a novel about the elemental things of life: about love and death, about women and men, story and myth, passion and loneliness and clashes of cultures and of continents. Three women, Devi, Sita and Mayamma, span three generations and encompass three goddesses in their names. Each of them has their own story to tell: Devi, the daughter, educated in America, married to the pompous Mahesh; Sita, the mother, sacrificing herself to the gods of reason, order and progress, and Mayamma, the old servant, married when still a girl to a drunken husband and abused by husband, mother - in - law and son. Githa Hariharan revels in colour, taste and smell.
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Hariharan links the plight of her women characters with the Indian myths as Mahabaratha, Sanskrit stories etc. These stories were instrumental in supporting the insidious patriarchal concepts. The lives of the three women in "The Thousand Faces of Night" - Devi, Sita and Mayamma - exposes the different dimensions of women's oppression. The reworking, revisioning and retelling of the myths as allusions of the character's story is the highlight of the novel. The story of the three women delves into about the society's patriarchal pattern and that society 's expectations and taboos laid by men. To substantiate her stories, she uses mythological allusions from the great epics of India. For any Indian women, the institution of marriage ensures protection, love, compatibility and happiness.