ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Namvar Singh (1927–2019)

A Discourse with Time

Namvar Singh was a public intellectual and a creative thinker who carried forward the tradition of reclaiming the radical aspects of the Indian knowledge tradition for the benefit of contemporary times, and strengthened it further by engaging with Marxism.

Namvar Singh, a leading literary critic of contemporary Hindi literature, passed away on 19 February 2019. It will be difficult to fill the void he leaves, in the near future. One cannot be a good social scientist without being fully aware of the literary wealth and one cannot be a good literary critic without being aware of the available knowledge in the social sciences. Singh was an epitome of this. He was a voracious reader of literary texts and fully aware of the recent debates in Indian social sciences. He used to surprise his audience by referring to complex philosophers like Martin Heidegger and Tulsidas in the same breath. Similarly, he would in very simple language present to his audience the nuanced debate on multiple modernity or on the idea of civil society in India.

He represented the tradition of Hindi literature that emerged during the anti-colonial struggle in which there is hardly any division of labour between the philosopher and the social and literary critic. He played this role fairly well and his knowledge of Sanskrit, Urdu and other pre-Hindi languages helped him in this endeavour. Singh engaged with his time and through his literary critique prepared the reading public of the Hindi-speaking world to capture the changing social realities. He was an interlocutor between the Hindi and the English medium world, very much like the noted philosopher of his time Daya Krishna and in this process he successfully contributed to the overall intellectual climate of Indian society.

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Updated On : 15th Mar, 2019
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