The Truth Unites Essays In Tribute To Samar Sen -Edited by Ashok Mitra

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Samar Sen, still in his early twenties, was threatened by success. It could have gone to his head and induced him to rush towards the direction of the establishment. It did precisely the reverse; he drifted towards Marxism, and launched into a discovery of the roots of cre ative endeavour in the travails of the toiling people. The interregnum of the Second World War was in fact the only period when his poetry had an overt, assertive theistic content. His poems turned into rolling paeans of Marxist belief and the spirit of anti-fascism. He also began experimenting with old Bengali poetical structures, per haps because of a feit urge to transmit his sense of political com mitment to a wider clientele.Abruptly or otherwise, that phase by and large ended with the mid-1940s. For the next one and half decades, the records are nearly a blank. Did the man get lost? He pottered around, perhaps trying to make up his mind between adulation for Marx and passion for Bacchus. In settling on a profession, Samar Sen, almost in the manner of someone who is yet to emerge fully from out of an alcoholic stupor, opted for daily journalism. Next followed a sojourn to the Soviet Union, the only visible outcome being a few tame translations, from Russian into Bengali, of stodgy classics and jejune folklore for children. When he returned home, and to Calcutta, he once more sought refuge within the portals of capitalist journalism.A sullen anger must have persisted within. In the early 1960s, he suddenly broke away. The story of his life between then and now is a succession of such breaking away. A group of establishment people had set up a trust and picked him as a safe choice to edit a weekly journal which they thought could be used for their intra- establishment political gang-wars. Samar Sen agreed to be the editor, but refused to play the game.It is now pointless to quibble over whether he first decided, then chose, or first chose, then decided. In the grey corridors of our daily existence, decisions and choices cannot always be neatly disentangled. In any event, it is only the denouement that matters, which was the emergence of Samar Sen as the combative, iconoclast editor of Now. Some of the most ferocious editorial writings in India in the post-independence period must have appeared in Now during the four years he was its editor. The small talk in coffee house circles, when the journal made its first appearance, was that mourning had become Now. That talk soon petered out. It was scarcely mourning; it was hibernation suddenly turning into a magnificent assertion of social commitment which began to pulsate Now.Did he arrive at this point on his own, or was he cajoled into taking the direction he took? That kind of tittle-tattle one can put aside. What is historically important is that he arrived where he did. To describe Samar Sen’s arrival as serendipity of a sort is again to miss the point. He had not, at the end of his voyage, set anchors at any island of gold. He reached a rough, hard terrain where there was only rock, and no water. This man could have led a comfortable existence as a hack writer of editorial comments for any capitalist newspaper; he could have bartered his poetical talents for an assured position in the ranks of the literary establishment.

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