The biggest of crises that the world had to negotiate with were unable to suppress the creative urges and expressions of men in the past. The COVID -19 outbreak now gripping the world is also expected to make no difference to the creativity of men, rather it would not be unreasonable to hope that it may bring some radical dynamism in the literary horizon of man. To quote from the last chapter (‘Postscript: After the Wake’) of Terry Eagleton’s seminal work: The English Novel: An Introduction:
The era of major literary achievement, in other words, was the tumultuous
years around the First World War, when European civilization itself was called
radically into question…
The contagion affecting the humanity currently has brought a broad spectrum of psychological and sociological impacts besides many new possibilities for humanity. An out and out affront upon globalization, it has brought on its wake a mixed sense of futility, despair and spiritual vacuity but trauma and unpredictability also ushers in new creative possibilities.
The contagion, by and large, has bonded all the people of the world with a common sensibility, thanks to the consolidation of the realization about a ‘single fate’.
The present situations arising out of the dreaded disease have brought sensitive people face to face with the ironies about their own complacency of living; they even feel the things they use to find to be glamorous are really mundane. How ineffectual their souls turn out to be, considering the unpredictability of the circumstances of their living!
The neo-liberated economy is also being set to a grueling test, as it were. The invisible virus shows no respect for individuals when even some state heads of the power centres of globalization too have to fall victim to its infection! Yes, the contagion has no discrimination against any individual- princes or commoners! It thus shows the potential to lend before us a new world-view: a more humane and morally sensitive world-view.
The current situation grows in us a feeling about how small we are in the nature’s scheme of things. It is a situation that overwhelms us all with its uncontrollable magnitude. Caught unawares, we now blame ourselves for being oblivious of our own smallness. Now we realize how petty our aspirations are before the physical and contingent circumstances. The present situation arising out of the dreaded disease evokes a binding sense of empathy, even as our collective fear leads us to a compounding feeling of a universal brotherhood. Behind the patheticality of our living, we identify a ‘collective soul’ and it is the identification of this ‘essential I’ in ourselves that may free us from all our petty differences. Thus, though it is a moment of bafflement for us, ideally, it is a moment of our moral freedom also.
At the backdrop of today’s upheaval, there is every hope that a new kind of literature may spring out of the debris of the upheaval. Our literature may now show signs of some singular changeovers responding to the variegated impacts coming from such a tragic upheaval caused by this virus. It might also give rise to a fresh moral seriousness in the mind of the authors to reflect the same in their works.
It is of course just too early to foresee what may be the shape of things to come to literature in the aftermath of this tumult; however, we should also not forget that we are at our most authentic and spontaneous only when we are headlong onto a crisis of the magnitude of such a nature.#