Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Lamp did Light

I completed reading 'When the Lamp is Lit' yesterday, the first book I could lay my hands on of Ruskin Bond. It is a collection of his autobiographical sketches and stories and it gave me a friendly and assuring company in my to and fro train journey to my hometown. This was the first time ever I was reading Ruskin and as they say a book more often than not reveals the soul of a writer, "When the Lamp is Lit" does just exactly that. It demystifies the legend of Ruskin Bond with gay abandon.

Lot has been talked about simplicity that reflect both in Ruskin's lifestyle and writings and I don't want to harp more into that. However, by the time I turned the last page of the book, my heart had sworn allegiance to this master craftsman who teaches the world why simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication. He reminds me of an age old adage, "We don't need more. We need to get rid of more."

His gift for humor was at his best exhibited in the chapter, "Life with Uncle Ken". I couldn't contain my laughs while I was reading the story, much to the puzzlement of my fellow passengers in my compartment. Ruskin shares little anecdotes of the lazy Uncle Ken who fends himself off by staying at his many sisters family taking turns after every few months. The funniest one for me is the story of mistaken identity, where uncle Ken is made to play a local cricket tournament being mistaken for a famous English cricketer and he manages to gather crowd's applause for a fluke four that runs off his pad. Uncle Ken had never held a bat before.

The humorous Ruskin turns solemn in the title chapter, aptly put in the end, "When the Lamp is Lit". It is here that he dispenses nuggets of his writerly wisdom that is distilled from his persevering years as a writer. Any budding writer worth his salt, must read this chapter to elevate his vocation to a higher plane. I devoured and relished whatever he had to say here. Ruskin asserts on the importance of humility, and busts the myths associated with true happiness derived through one's vocation.

A paragraph from the chapter:

"Why is humility so hard to come by? Most religions teach the wisdom of humility, but who listens? We all know that life is finite, that human civilization, for what it's worth, is self-limiting. And yet the most educated of men will strut about their little world like actors on stage; they assume the mantle of immortals, deluding themselves into thinking they are indispensable, until eventually they join all those other indispensables who have reached perfection in the form of dust or ashes. Happiness is an elusive state of mind, not to be gained by clumsy pursuit. It is given to those who do not sue for it: to be unconcerned about a desired good is probably the only way to possess it."

Words that are redolent with worldly experience.

Ruskin draws inspiration from Emily Bronte's life whose masterpiece, "Wuthering Heights" is a phenomenon till date and is widely taught in universities across the globe. He attributes Emily's success to her indifference to wealth, fame, and personal comfort, an antithesis to today's world of high powered literary agents and media hype.

He talks about scores of good writers who work in their own language and "plough their lonely furrow" without entertaining an agent or media blitz. Their lonely journey survives all storms of despair and grief because they believe "pen, in honest and gifted hands, is mightier than the grave."

He signs off the last chapter with the words, "Dear Reader, may you have the wisdom to be simple, and the humor to be happy."

If not for anything you must read the book for these two chapters.


Anonymous,  Friday, November 26, 2010 1:18:00 PM  

Finally blog with valuable informations.

Anonymous,  Monday, December 20, 2010 8:01:00 AM  

Il semble que vous soyez un expert dans ce domaine, vos remarques sont tres interessantes, merci.

- Daniel

Phani vijay Tuesday, January 04, 2011 10:49:00 AM  

Insightful and informational..nice one

Anonymous,  Friday, January 21, 2011 3:59:00 AM  

Thank you for the great information! I would not have discovered this otherwise!.

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