Gadgil, Ga?gadhar (Gopal)

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GĀḊGĪL, Gaṅgādhar (Gopāl)

Nationality: Indian (Marāṫhī language). Born: Bombay, 25 August 1923. Education: Bombay University, M.A. in economics and history. Family: Married Vasantī Gāḋgīl in 1948, two daughters and one son. Career: Professor of Economics, Keekabhai Premchand College, 1946-48, Sydenham College, 1948-59, L.D. Ruparel College, 1959-64, Narsi Monji College, 1964-71, all in Bombay; studied at Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachussetts, and Stanford University, California, 1957-58; economic adviser, Apte Group, 1971-76, and Walchand Group, since 1976, both in Bombay. Lives in Bombay. Awards: Abhiruchi award, 1949; Hindustan Times National Contest award, for a story, 1954; New York Herald Tribune prize, for story, 1954; Maharastra State award, for story, 1956, 1957, 1960; Rockfeller Foundation Scholarship, 1957-58; N.C. Kelkar award, 1980; R. S. Jog award, 1982. Honorary professor of Marāṫhī, University of Bombay, 1977-80;president, All-India Marāmbai Marāṫhī Sāhitya Saṅgh, since 1983; vice-president, Sahitya Academy, 1988-93; vice-president, Mūmbai ber: President, Mūṫhī Grantha Saṅgrahālay (Bombay public library), since 1986.


Short Stories

Mānas-citre [Human Pictures]. 1946.

Kaḋū aṅī goḋ [Bitter and Sweet]. 1948.

Navyā vāṫā. [New Paths]. 1950.

Birbhire. 1950.

Saṁsār [Worldly Life]. 1951

Uddhvasta visva [A World Destroyed]. 1951.

Kabutare [Pigeons]. 1952.

Talāvātle cāndaṅe [The Moon in the Lake]. 1954.

Khara sāgāyacë mhaṅje [To Tell the Truth]. 1954.

Varṡā [Rain]. 1956.

Ole unh [Wet Sunlight]. 1957.

Baṅḋū [Baṅḋū]. 1957.

Vegle jag [A Different World]. 1958.

Gāḋgīlāñcyā kathā [Stories], edited by S.P. Bhagvat. 1958.

Svapnabhūmi [Dreamland]. 1959.

Kājvā [The Firefly]. 1960.

Pālṅā [Cradle]. 1961.

Guṅākār [Multiplication] (includes Navyā vāṫa and Ole unh). 1965.

Írāvaṅ [name of a month]. 1977.

Vilakhā [The Tight Embrace]. 1978.

Aṫhvan [Remembrances]. 1978.

Khālī utarlele ākāś [The Sky Descended]. 1979.

Asaṁāṁ tasaṁ [This Way and That]. 1983.

Khuāvaṅāryā cāndaṅya [Glittering Stars] (includes Varṡā and Ole unh). 1984.

Amrut [Nectar]. 1986

Soneri kavaḋse [Golden Sunbeam]. 1986.

Baṅḋūce gupcup [Baṅḋs Secrets]. 1986.

Naviadak [Selected Stories], edited by Sudha Joshi. 1986.

Baṅḋūce mokal sutalo [Baṅḋs Runs Wild]. 1987.

The Woman and Other Stories, translated by Gāḋgīl and Ian Raeside. 1990.

Biravā. 1991.

Vacak Baṅḋū [Selected Stories about Baṅḋū] edited by G.M. Pawar. 1991.

Āśā catur bayak [Women so Wiley and Clever]. 1991.

Sāhityil rāsik ho. 1991.

Baṅḋū bilandar tharto. 1992.

Bugṙī māzī saṅḋalī ga [My Flower-Basket Has Spilled]. 1992.

Selected Short Stories, edited by M. K. Naik. 1994.


Lilīce phūl [Lily Flowers]. 1950.

Durdamya [Indomitable]. 2 vols., 1971.

Fiction for children

Ḍhāḋśī candū (based on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain). 1951.

Lakhūcī rojniśī [The Day to Day Diary of Little Lakhu's Exploits]. 1954.

Ratne [Jewels]. 1985.

Pakyacī gang [Pakya's Gang]. 1985.


Vedyañcā caukon [Fool's Quandrangle]. 1952.

Pāc nāṫikā [Five One-Act Plays]. 1953.

Āmhī āple thor puruṡ hoṅār [I Shall Be a Brave Man] (for children). 1957

Sāhānī mūle [Good Children] (for children). 1961.

Baṅḋū nāṫak karto [Baṅḋū Makes a Play]. 1961.

Baṅḋū, Nānū āṅi gulābī hatti [Baṅḋū, Nānū and the Pink Elephant]. 1962.

Jyotsnā āṅi Jyoti [Jyotsnā and Jyoti]. 1964.

Bābāñcā kaliṅgaṙ aṅī mūlicā sweater [Father's Watermelon and Daughter's Sweater] (for children). 1979.

Cimṫit cimaṫlelā Baṅḋū [Baṅḋū Caught in Tongs]. 1980.

Mūle cor pakar [Children Catch a Thief]. 1985.


Gopurāñcyā Pradeśat [The Land of the Gopurams] (travelogue). 1952.

Sātā samudrāpalīkaṙe [Beyond the Seven Seas]. 1959.

Khaḋak ā ṅi pāṅī [Rock and Water] (literary essays). 1960.

Sāhityāce māndaṅḋa [Standards of Literature] (essays). 1962.

Mūmbai āṅi Mūmbai kar [Bombay and Its People]. 1970.

Khaḋilkarañci tīn nāṫake [Three Plays by Khaḋilkar] (literary criticism). 1973.

Rural Employment Guarantee SchemeTwo Views. 1975.

Phirkyā (humour). 1976.

Pāṅyavarci akṡare [Words on Water] (literary criticism). 1979.

Is Nationalisation of Industries in Public Interest? 1979.

Limits of Public Sector in India. 1979.

The Consumer and the Indian Economic Environment. 1980.

Ārthik navalkathā [Wonderous Tales of Economic Folly] (es-says). 1982.

Ājkālce sāhityik [Literary People of Today] (essays). 1980.

Āmhīāple Ḍhaṅḋopanta [My Name is Dhaṅḋopanta] (humour). 1982.

Pratibhecyā sahāvāsat (literary criticism). 1985.

Ānkhī ārthik navalkathā [More Wonderous Tales of EconomicFolly]. 1985.

Sāhityapremī rāsik ho! [Ye Discriminating Lovers of Literature!]. 1986.

The Consumer, Business and the Government. 1987.

The Writer and the Contemporary Environment. 1987.

A Consumer Oriented Economic Policy. 1989.

Crazy Bombay (humor), translated by Gāḋgīl. 1991.

Muṅgīce Mahābhārat [An Ant's Mahābhārat] (autobiography). 1993.

Editor, Youth and Self-Employment. 1976.

Editor, with Arvind A. Deshpande, Maharashtra: Problems, Potential and Prospects. 1988.

Translator, Saṅgarṡ, by Henry James. 1965.


Critical Study:

"Facets of Human Nature" by M. K. Naik, in Indian Book Chronicle 16, June 1991.

* * *

Gaṅgādhar Gāḋgīl is one of the chief writers of the modern short story in Marathi—the language of the Bombay region of Western India, which has a literature now more than 800 years old. Though the Marathi short story made its first appearance during the 1890s, under the influence of British literature, it came to maturity only during the 1930s and received a distinctly modernist orientation after World War II.

The Marathi short story before Gāḋgīl and his contemporaries tended to be either purely anecdotal, slick and well-made, sentimental, or didactic. The new post-World War II story developed into an art form liberated from conventional structural restrictions, with far wider range of subject, and with greater complexity and subtlety in its presentation of human life and character. In keeping with its varied subject matter, it employed a variety of appropriate formal strategies and styles in narration, dialogue, and description. ḋgīl is an apt representative of the modern Marathi short story in that his work illustrates almost all these salient features.

Gāḋgīl's is mostly a middle-class world, though in a story like "A Dying World" he captures the feudal ambience of the vanishing landed aristocracy with equal conviction. A story like "The Coin," which presents a homeless urchin in Bombay, offers a revealing glimpse of low-class urban life. But Gāḋgīl is perhaps at his most characteristic in exposing the limitations of middle-class values and probing the middle-class mind mercilessly as in "The Hollow Men," which is easily one of his most memorable efforts. "Refugee City" is another fine story; it describes a typical day in the life of Bombay with all its hurry and bustle, one-upmanship, and ruthless impersonality.

Memorable as these presentations of segments of society are, Gāḋgīl is perhaps at his best in exposing "freckled human nature." His range is so wide that he has written stories dealing with practically the entire range of human life, from the newborn infant to the old man and woman at the end of their lives. In "A Tale of Toys" the world is seen through the consciousness of an infant; "The Sorrows of Shashi" and "The Class-Teacher Resigns" are studies of schoolboy and schoolgirl psychology respectively; in "The Musical Doorbell" and "By Stealthy Steps" we get glimpses of the world view of a teenage boy and a girl respectively; a young man with a size inferiority complex (of which the outsized briefcase he sports is an apt objective correlative) is the subject of "The Runt" and a sentimental young woman that of "The Dreamworld"; "In Full Sail" and "House of Cards" present the psychology of middle age; and old age "blues" color "Valley of Darkness" and "Leftovers."

Sex at various levels of experience is another recurrent theme: it figures as sheer animal passion in "The Camel and the Pendulum." "The Education of Rose Mathai" shows how sexual awakening transforms a nondescript girl into a self-confident young woman; the evanescent "imitations of maternity" are deftly encapsulated in the story. "How Sweet the Moonlight Sleeps upon the Waters" and "The Sky Stoops to Conquer" are engaging studies in conjugal love. Curiously enough, only romantic, pre-marital love somehow does not seem to interest Gāḋgīl at all.

Noted for his ruthless realism and subtle psychological probing, Gāḋgīl has also written surrealistic fantasies ("The Yakshi and Revolution"), stories of semi-mystical musings ("At the Still Point") and of evanescent moods ("A Rainy Day"), and stories of sheer horse-play and farce (the stories about Bandu, the office-clerk). Gāḋgīl's technique is equally resourceful. He generally adopts an open form, allowing his theme to evolve its own narrative structure. The opening and the ending of his stories therefore exhibit a great deal of variety; the opening is usually brisk, but when a narrative demands an opening description to set the tone, as in "The Hollow Men," he does not shrink from providing it. A clinching comment, an ironic flourish, or a neat summing up are some of the end-strategies adopted. Gāḋgīl's style, both in narration and dialogue, is eminently direct, functional, and unadorned; hence, when he employs an occasional image, the result is startling: "The clerks sitting at rows of tables in the big office looked like glass-beads woven in the string of office-work."

Gāḋgīl's major achievement is that he played a significant role in freeing the Marathi short story from the shackles of conventional plotting, surface realism, and facile romanticism, and he brought to the form a variety and flexibility, a depth of psychological perception, and an openness of structure, which made it truly modern in spirit and form.

—M. K. Naik

See the essay on "The Hollow Men."