The Question of Silence: A Para-biography
G. N. Devy
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

A selection of conversations, lectures, and philosophical and biographical essays that look at the significance of the polyphony of human voices that are fast vanishing with the advance of civilisation, the place of silence in the making of meaning, and of language itself in the future of knowledge, The Question of Silence is an insightful and thought-provoking meditation on the many silences confronting us in today's world.

The most widely perceived aspect of silence is that which is forced upon subjugated and marginalised peoples, genders, tongues, cultures and nations. The rapid loss of natural languages—and with them entire bodies of thought, knowledge, ways of seeing and being—is the other disturbing phenomenon. By engaging with these questions, the author shows us possible ways in which we can collectively negotiate with such 'silences', and the consequences they entail for the human consciousness, the human race, and the very idea of being human.

By way of answers are inspiring vignettes from a lifetime of work: the making of the unprecedented People's Linguistic Survey of India, the Bhasha Centre at Baroda, the Adivasi Academy at Tejgad, and the motivation behind them. The book also offers a candid, close and personal—at times delightfully wry—look at the making of G. N. Devy as he takes us through his childhood, school and college years, and his later life as a man in search of himself. This is an eclectic and richly rewarding journey into our world, with one of the most influential public intellectuals of our times.

G. N. Devy, a scholar and cultural activist, has written in the areas of literary criticism, literary history, philosophy, education, anthropology and linguistics. He received the Padma Shri (2014) for his work with nomadic communities and endangered languages, and has, since 2015, led ‘Dakshinayan’, a resistance movement of writers and thinkers.

1. The Question of Silence
2. Silence on the Horizon

3. Language Diversity
4. Aesthetics for Our Time

5. Language, Culture, Tribal Struggles and Indian Democracy Excerpts from ‘PeaceTalks’
6. Multilingualism and Cultural Pluralism
An Interview by Chitra Padmanabhan
7. More Intuitive, Less Rational
An Interview by Kiran Singh
8. And We Come to a Standstill
A Conversation with Yagnesh Dave
9. Beyond Cultural Aphasia
A Conversation with Rossella Ciocca

10. Bhor
The Ghosts of My Childhood
11. Education
Learning to Read and Lie
12. Lagori
Growing Up
13. My ‘Brahmin’ Self
14. Seeing
Through the Eye of the Peacock Feather, and Charlie Chaplin
15. Of Heroes Fabled and Ordinary
16. Kolhapur
17. Finding Myself Again and Freedom
18. Baroda 19. A Search for Completion
The Question of Silence: A Para-biography by G.N. Devy
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