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Samskara & Other Stories

Narrated by: Ritwik Simha, C. R. Simha
Length: 9 hrs and 25 mins
Categories: Fiction, Literary
4 out of 5 stars (5 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Samskara has attained iconic status in the pantheon of Kannada literature. It is hailed as a unique literary piece in the Navya tradition. The novel is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago when it was first published. Values-tradition, mores-rationality, rituals-humanity - the eternal conflict between these ideas is the crux of this novel of Praneshacharya's conflict, the question of Naranappa's fate, Chandri's existence and the plight of the town. The listener becomes one with the characters and the story. This complex story has the power to become an unforgettable experience.

Please note: this title is in the Kannada language.

©2011 Dr. UR Ananthamurthy (P)2011 booksTALK audiobooks

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Narration at its Highest

Narration
I've listened to many English audible books. I greatly enjoy listening to them and have listened to some again and again and again. Naturally, I wondered if there was any Kannada audiobooks and didn't have high expectations. Imagine my surprise when I found a couple of books read by the great C R Simha!

C R Simha is easily one of the greatest narrators in any language. His performance of Samskara & Subbanna by Masti are priceless gifts to Kannada literature. He is known to be one of the most accomplished actors in drama and film industries, narration of books is yet an another face of the this theater genius.
C R Simha breathes so much life into this narration that to read this book is to forego a soulful rendition.

Most remarkably, he adds in a lot of interjections for each character which makes this narration a lot more than mere reading. He brings all his theater experience to the table.

Story
"As always, the path of spirituality is a knife-edge between abysses. On one side is the danger of mere rejection and escape, on the other the danger of mere appearance and the enjoyment of things ..."
-Aldous Huxley, The Perennial Philosophy

It's a very well known novel and has been made into an acclaimed Kannada film as well.

Even from the beginning, the book raises some fundamental questions and keeps on stacking them up. It's satirical of Brahmanic tradition and its customs in premodern India. It weaves in and out of the eternal question of the spirit versus the flesh.

The novel employs apparent contradictions to set the ground. Self-abnegation, discipline, rituals, study, moderation on one hand, intoxication, carnality, excess, unruliness, irreverence on the other hand. It's an ongoing battle and there's to be no clear winner. Though the protagonist and antagonist seem contrary to each other, they're both bound by a strong will and basically driven by their obsessive desires. They are taking different routes only to end up in the same place.

Towards the end of the novel, the author introduces a character as an attempt at bringing some balance. Putta is a kind of golden mean between two extremes. He's neither abstinent nor heathen, leaning neither far left nor far right. He's blissfully unaware of any existential questions for he never bothered to raise them. He's simple and takes life as he finds it. He's kind, helping, and good-natured and isn't conscious of it.

The novel ends rather abruptly and doesn't even try to reconcile opposing views. It leaves you wishing for it continue.

Now, C R Simha has blazed the trail and it is time other great actors like Anantnag and Srinath and others to take up where he left off and bring other Kannada classics to life again.