(54) Sri Lanka's Dostoevsky! Do you know the world famous writer Wickramasinghe?

Wickramasinghe Travels in Sri Lanka, the Holy Land of Buddhism

Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka (54)
Dostoevsky in Sri Lanka! Do you know the world famous writer Wickramasinghe?

I love books. And literature is the benefactor that raised me. I have introduced literature from all over the world on this blog, and the experiment that began with "Shinran and Dostoevsky" has led me to where I am today.

In this article I would like to talk about a Sri Lankan writer I met.

Martin Wickramasinghe (1890-1976)Wikipedia.

Martin Wickramasinghe is a world-renowned writer representing Sri Lanka, although he is little known in Japan. I myself became aware of his existence while studying Sri Lanka.

Wickramasinghe's work has been previously featured on this blog.

Especially this Wickramasinha trilogy.The Changing Village., ,The Age of Transformation.", ,The End of Time.is a masterpiece that is the best historical picture book for understanding Sri Lankan society.

The commentary at the end of the book summarizes the trilogy as follows

Martin Wickramasinghe has a major work in three parts, "The Changing Village," "The Age of Change," and "The End of Time," which is set in a southern Sri Lankan village in the early 20th century.

The first part of the film depicts the confrontation between merchants and other wealthy classes, centering on an old middle-class family that tries to adhere to the traditions of the village. Against the backdrop of changes in the social and economic structure due to the intake of Western European culture, the decline of traditional culture unfolds along with the younger generation's view of love.

The second part of the film depicts the tragedy of a family that has moved from one generation to the next and joined the upper class in Colombo. The past and present of the family through the generations are brought into relief through the father's craving for status and honor, the mother's extravagant socializing and poor English, and the anguish of the son who has grown tired of his parents' false image of him.

In the third part, the country enters a period of upheaval, including the collapse of the property class and the revolution of the village society, as labor disputes unfolded in various regions with the birth of the working class.

These works cleverly depict glimpses of the currents of the times and socialist ideas, such as the psychological analysis of hatred, love conflicts, and separation between characters, as well as labor disputes. A sympathetic critic once pointed out that the trilogy reminded him of Dostoevsky's world, which is quite understandable. It is interesting to note that the trilogy was translated and published in Russian in 1965.

Some line breaks have been made to make it easier to read on smartphones, etc.

Daido Life International Cultural Foundation, The Changing Village, by Martin Wickramasinghe, translated by Tadashi Noguchi and Kenichi Souta, p. 297

Some of you may be surprised to read the last part of the above quote.

To my surprise, the novel also has a significant connection with that Dostoevsky.

Sri Lanka's elite class has been fluent in English since the 19th century, when British rule began. As a result, Western literature has been widely read in Sri Lanka since the beginning of British rule in the 19th century.

Swift, Hardy, Dickens, Hugo, Anatole France, Maupassant, Pushkin, Gogol, Turgenev, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, and Gorky were especially well-read authors.

And the translator points out that.

Although it is impossible to say for sure at this point, we will have to wait for further detailed research to find out the factors that led Martin Wickramasinghe to devote himself to Russian literature, we can say, for example, that Dostoevsky, who pursued compassion for the socially weak and the contradictions and conflicts of human psychology, and appealed to the desire to restore humanity, was a great Russian writer.The PoorandCrime and Punishment."The Brothers Karamazov.The Moron.The vastness and powerlessness of the ideas that lurk in the minds of the characters in the work, such as the following, must probably have fascinated you.

Daido Life International Cultural Foundation, The Changing Village, by Martin Wickramasinghe, translated by Tadashi Noguchi and Kenichi Souta, p. 296

I felt something like Dostoevsky when I read "The Changing Village," whether it was the psychological descriptions, the peculiar characters, or the conversations that unfolded in the room. That is why I wrote "Sri Lanka's Dostoevsky" in the title of this article. If you are a Dostoevsky fan, I am sure this novel will be a perfect fit for you. I highly recommend it.

However, I am sorry to say here that I called it "Sri Lanka's Dostoevsky", but to be honest, what I felt after reading this work more than that was Chekhov'sThe Cherry OrchardThe atmosphere is that of a

Wickramasinghe also has a deep knowledge of Chekhov and has commented extensively on his plays.

In "The Cherry Orchard," the contrast between the carefree country aristocrats who are being left behind by the times and the pragmatic upstart merchant Lopahin is depicted, and this is exactly how the composition of "The Changing Village" is also depicted.

An old family and a newly emerged merchant are left behind by the times and are collapsing. The caste system peculiar to Sri Lanka is also involved.

Here we can see Wickramasinghe's attempt to depict a phase of the times unique to Sri Lanka, despite the influence of Russian literature.

I recommend "The Changing Village" not only to Dostoevsky but also to Chekhov fans. I hope that you will pick up a copy of this book. It will be an exciting read as you will learn how the great Sri Lankan writer perceived Russian literature.

And what I feel particularly strongly about the Wickramasinghe trilogy is that they should be compared to the Lugon Makkar series by French literary giant Emile Zola.

Emile Zola (1840-1902)Wikipedia.

Emile Zola is one of the writers I most admire.

And his masterpiece "Lugon Makkar Series" is a marvelous story that teaches us what "human society" is all about. I have already explained about "Lugon Makkar Series" in the article above, but I felt Zola in his style when I read Wickramasinghe's trilogy.

This is something I was convinced of when I read the second book in the trilogy, The Age of Change.

The story in this film centers on the main characters of the previous film, the upstart merchant Piyar and his wife Nander.

In the previous film, Piyar was portrayed as a good young man who, despite his low caste, was able to use his natural talents to expand his business, but in this film, we see the pain he has fallen into.

Piyar becomes a person who only cares about money, status, and honor. Gone are the vestiges of the days when he worked as a kind-hearted governess. The novel is set in the first half of the 20th century, a time when, like Piyal, we also saw the rise of emerging merchants to power and a sudden social ascendancy. Wickramasinghe skillfully depicts this phase of the times.

In particular, the depiction of Piyar and Nander's fictitious home life is reminiscent of Zola's works.

New merchants rise up and use their wits, talents, and financial resources to break into the existing class society. Moreover, the way in which they rapidly rose in status by means of money and scheming, only to pay the price for their success, is also very similar.

In Zola's novel, this"A Share of the Prey."andThe Gobbledygook.seems to me to coincide exactly with the "Age of Change".

Of course, I don't mean to imply that just because it resembles Zola that Wickramasinha imitated it or anything like that.

Zola thoroughly observed 19th century Paris in Zola and incorporated it into his work of fiction.

And Wickramasinghe is Wickramasinghe, which means that he has successfully portrayed Sri Lankan society in the first half of the 20th century in this novel. This novel is indeed an excellent source for understanding Sri Lanka in the first half of the 20th century. For those of us living far away in Japan, there is no other picture scroll of Sri Lanka that we appreciate so much.

In "The Age of Change," we see Sri Lankan society from various perspectives, such as the Piyars' money- and status-obsessed world of pretense, the feelings of their son's generation that rebel against it, and the gap between them and the village people who cannot abandon the traditions of the old society.

This is a brilliant work. As in the previous work, Wickramasinghe's fearsome descriptive power was felt in this work as well.

And the last of the trilogyThe End of Time.is also excellent. This film also has a Zola feel, but its themes are sharp. It depicts the Marxism and labor problems that raged in Sri Lanka in the middle of the 20th century. In the words of ZolaGeluminaire."The equivalent would be a story set in a coal mine called

His son Merlin strongly rebels against Sawiman, a big capitalist who rose to power by exploiting the workers. The two of them are already mentally corrupt. There is no one around to make their parents repent! he confides to his best friend, Alawinda, a doctor. His rebellion is no longer a domestic issue, but develops into a political movement involving the citizens of Colombo.

The film depicts these struggles and riots between capitalists and workers. In this novel, Wickramasinghe, who was once a journalist, has embodied the story of what was happening in Colombo at that time. As we have seen in his trilogy so far, Wickramasinghe's sensitive psychological portrayal is also vivid in this work.

Yes. Being a writer and journalist is another thing he and Zola have in common. Zola also worked for a publishing company before becoming a writer. His works are based on his sense of smell and interviewing skills as only a journalist can do.

In this trilogy, Wickramasinghe depicts Sri Lanka in a turbulent period of long colonial rule, caste issues, ethnic conflict, widening inequality, and political turmoil.

Wickramasinghe's novel will be the best guide to the state of Sri Lanka. Translator at the end of the book,

It is no exaggeration to say that this trilogy is not only a literary work but also a key work in the modern history of Sri Lanka.

Daido Life International Cultural Foundation, The End of Time, by Martin Wickramasinghe, translated by Tadashi Noguchi, P344

I think it is also exactly right to state that

It is a trilogy that I hope will attract more attention in Japan.

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