The small yet very significant monograph on Niranjan Mohanty by Sudhir K. Arora has certain positive points that should be discussed firstly and then the book should be read and enjoyed by the poets, critics and scholars of India and abroad. The book is not just a critical or personal inquiry or say eisegesis containing author’s own interpretations of the text of Niranjan Mohanty who was a “Down to earth” man and yet not the poet of earthly approaches. The book is also not just the collection of critical papers assorted in book-form and brought out in form of edited anthologies for the sake of career promotions or other material gains or just an outcome of manic editors editing books by throwing CFPs here and there and collecting papers unmindful of relevant and contemporary themes which is rampant now-a-days. The book is an emotional debt that Dr Sudhir, a young poet and critic has tried to repay to a fellow senior poet and critic leaving a milestone for others to follow and motivate. The book carries fresh and insightful write-ups on Niranjan Mohanty’s personality and poetry from different angles and critical lens in a sufficiently wide manner albeit Dr Sudhir regards his attempt as “modest” and spares the possibility for further research behind being the first to write so vividly and exhaustively on a less sung poet Niranjan Mohanty.
The book is divided into eleven chapters each dealing with man (personality) and pen (poetry) of Niranjan Mohanty. The first chapter starts with the letter of Mrs. Niranjan Mohanty who in a very simple and unpretentious way pores over the pages of her memories with Niranjan Mohanty from his early days of life when he was shocked at the sudden deaths of his brother and sister. Such incidents sowed the seeds of pains in Niranjan Mohanty’s heart and his later challenges and ironies that he had to envisage which moulded his genius and gradually developed him as a poet. Thorough Mrs Mohanty’s letter one can know the simplicity and honest of Niranjan Mohanty to his family and his profession. The letter of Mrs Jayanti Mohanty establishes Dr Sudhir Arora’s comment that “The Poet in Niranjan Mohanty is great, but the man in him was even greater.”(1)
In the preceding nine chapters dealing with his each collection of Mohanty, Dr Arora has observed the poetic journey of Niranjan Mohanty from Silencing the Words (maiden collection) to A House of Rains (Last collection). The tenth chapter observes the place of Niranjan Mohanty in postcolonial space and establishes that the poetry of Niranjan Mohanty has “developed” its own “idiom that reflects Indian Culture and heritage to a great extent”. He is also one of those poets who are purely postcolonial in texture and structure and have unconsciously presented them in Indian set-back in their creative works.
The author has included four poems of Niranjan Mohanty in the end of the book which will delight the readers because quiet often the books of criticism fail to keep the interest of the readers intact for long but the present book carries two creative chapters, one of Mrs. Mohanty’s letter and the other of Mohanty’s own poems. The author should be thanked and congratulated for such and arduous work of critical insight and the publisher too for his bubbling zeal to promote ‘a less known’ but ‘great writer’.
The book is moderately priced so that a common reader may remain positive in buying the book in a commercialized and commodified world. The book could be more useful to the readers if they could read the author’s observation on the style and diction of Niranjan Mohanty which is rich in inventiveness and stylistic features.