All About H. Hatterr (1948) is a novel by G. V. Desani chronicling the adventures of an Anglo-Malay man in search of wisdom and enlightenment. "As far back as in 1951," Desani later wrote, "I said H. Hatterr was a portrait of a man, the common vulgar species, found everywhere, both in the East and in the West".
The mad English of All About H. Hatterr is a thoroughly self-conscious and finely controlled performance, as Anthony Burgess points out in its preface:
Comments Amardeep Singh, Assistant Professor of English at Lehigh University on the novel's mad English:
Anthony Burgess, in his preface to the 1969 edition of the novel, is also careful to disavow the métèque label that dogged late colonial African writers like Amos Tutuola. F. W. Bateson coined Métèque as a way of referring to writers for whom English was a second or third language, who don't respect (or don't know) 'the finer rules of English idiom and grammar'.
It's not that such writing can't produce interesting effects. But successful forays into slang or, even further, dialect English, are rarely interesting to fluent English speakers unless they are carefully controlled -- by a writer who is quite confident (and of course competent) in the language. The writer may have a memory of learning English, but he or she cannot still be learning English at the time of the writing of the novel. Conrad, Nabokov, and even the contemporary writer Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything Is Illuminated) knew exactly what they were doing. So did Desani.
The mad English of All About H. Hatterr is a thoroughly self-conscious and finely controlled performance.
Says Amardeep Singh:
As for the arbitrary choice of words and constructions you mentioned. Not intended by me to invite analysis. They are there because, I think, they are natural to H. Hatterr. But, Madam! Whoever asked a cultivated mind such as yours to submit your intellectual acumen or emotions to this H. Hatterr mind? Suppose you quote me as saying, the book's simple laughing matter? Jot this down, too. I never was involved in the struggle for newer forms of expression, Neo-morality, or any such thing! What do you take me for? A busybody?
In short, Desani is saying, I'm really not trying to do anything fancy with all this Hatterr-speak. And why waste your intellectual acumen with my crazy little book? And no, I'm no modernist, not like you: nothing so
In the midst of this evasive self-acquittal is a seeming grammatical slip: "this book's simple laughing matter." There is apparently a missing indefinite article there ("a simple laughing matter"). It's possibly an Indianism (intentionally inserted), but the missing "a" makes meaning-making little bit slippery. Most obvious reading is self-deprecation.... But perhaps Desani is also playing with the idiom "laughing matter"; it is the "matter" that is "laughing" (at the reader? at Miss Betty Bloomsbohemia?). If this were Joyce, there would also be a joke here about "mater" (Latin: mother), and maybe two or three others. It's not Joyce, but there still might be two or three jokes here, not on mothers, but on naming: the book's "simple laughing" Hatterr, who is mad as a hatter, never matter the mater.
This is a list of works by the English novelist Anthony Burgess.G. V. Desani
Govindas Vishnoodas Dasani (1909–2000), known only as G.V. Desani, was a British-Indian novelist, poet, and social commentator. He was born in Kenya, reared in India and came of age in Great Britain. An adept practitioner and scholar of ancient Eastern spiritual and mental-culture traditions, Desani was best known as the author of All About H. Hatterr (1948), a comic farce which lampooned Anglo and Indian culture, spiritual traditions and an admixture of the two. An epic-like poetic work, Hali (1950), and its subsequent pairing with his short stories, Hali and Short Stories (1991) comprised most of his fictional writings. Other writings included news reporting, humor and commentary. In his later years, Desani taught Eastern Philosophy in the United States.Rudyard Kipling
Joseph Rudyard Kipling ( RUD-yərd; 30 December 1865 – 18 January 1936) was an English journalist, short-story writer, poet, and novelist. He was born in India, which inspired much of his work.
Kipling's works of fiction include The Jungle Book (1894), Kim (1901), and many short stories, including "The Man Who Would Be King" (1888). His poems include "Mandalay" (1890), "Gunga Din" (1890), "The Gods of the Copybook Headings" (1919), "The White Man's Burden" (1899), and "If—" (1910). He is regarded as a major innovator in the art of the short story; his children's books are classics of children's literature, and one critic described his work as exhibiting "a versatile and luminous narrative gift".Kipling was one of the most popular writers in the United Kingdom, in both prose and verse, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Henry James said: "Kipling strikes me personally as the most complete man of genius, as distinct from fine intelligence, that I have ever known." In 1907, at the age of 41, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, making him the first English-language writer to receive the prize and its youngest recipient to date. He was also sounded out for the British Poet Laureateship and on several occasions for a knighthood, both of which he declined.Kipling's subsequent reputation has changed according to the political and social climate of the age and the resulting contrasting views about him continued for much of the 20th century. George Orwell saw Kipling as "a jingo imperialist", who was "morally insensitive and aesthetically disgusting".
Literary critic Douglas Kerr wrote: "[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognised as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with."