I was reading “La nuit bengali” ( Bengal Nights) by Mircea Eliade in the last two days. Mircea Eliade(1907-1986) was a respected man in my dictionary for his huge contribution in editing the gigantic task of “Encyclopedia of Religion”. So while taking this book I was a bit partial to the author. It’s a fantasy, autobiography and travel literature. I will call it a ‘full fledged romance’ but with an unhappy ending!
At the beginning of the novel I was being surprised such a poor work I was going through. The beginning is very very dull and filled with unnecessary details. And the narrator upheld his self-gratification in his narration. I found it a defensive love story and the male character is accusing((if I be a bit mild)/ pointing to the female for their love affair to happen as if he didn’t have any contribution; all he did is to response her call. But I found almost the opposite.
However, as the story progresses I observed the greatness in this piece. It’s a novel with stormy love story between two opposite races. Mr. Allen, an European who worked in a farm under Norendra Sen whose girl Maitreyi was the lover of that man. Norendra was affectionate towards Allen and let him stay in his house with quite a big personal library to use. Sen family had an intention to keep his as an adopted son. That’s why they let their two girls to mix with him freely.
Big story cutting short; Allen and Maitreyi had a fiery love affair which was infused with physical union for a long time as we know from the narrator/male voice. Sen family got infuriated and let Allen leave their home and tortured Maitreyi for a long time. Allen being utterly humiliated took the street and reached Indian sadhus and rishis in the Himalaya. Here he got his purpose of his life as he got the fuel for his PhD there and what he would become later days.. All these elements gave a spiritual clouds in their love story.
There are a lot of feminist and post colonial discourses in the novel. And we will see how racism was there both in European and Indian too. The Anglo-Indians treat Indians as “Niggars” and on the contrary Indians mock them as ‘white monkeys’!
Surely it would be different in a female view… And all the girl/female or woman( owing man/ Woo of Man) should have her-story beside the broad spectrum of his-story(history)…!! And some of the girls should come forward/ volunteer in/to breaking age old patriarchal construction…
However, to conclude I can say, with all its complexities, ‘exotic beauties’, oriental discourses and tempting story it’s not a bad option to read!