UP varsity to 'review' 'immoral' stories by Hemingway

Representative image. (DH Photo)

An Uttar Pradesh university has decided to ''review'' some of the short stories by popular English writers like Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway and Katherine Mansfield after complaints that they were ''immoral'' and against the ''Indian values''.

According to the sources, the state-owned Chaudhary Charan Singh University at Meerut, about 450 kilometres from here, would ''examine'' the content of the short stories, which were part of its BA (English) program.

The action, which invited sharp criticism from the academics, was taken after a Meerut based historian and writer A.K.Gandhi objected to the content of the short stories claiming that they corrupted the minds of the students.

Some of the short stories, which were dubbed as ''immoral'' and against the ''Indian values'', included 'An Official Position' (Maugham), 'Hills Like White Elephants' (Hemingway), 'The Woman At the Store' (Mansfield) and 'Telemachus Friend' (O Henry).

''In Hills Like White Elephants a man tries to force a girl to have abortion...in The Official Position, the main character kills his wife simply because she criticises him for spending more time outside...in The Woman At the Store, a man abandons his friends to make illegitimate physical relation with an old woman....these stories do not have any moral value,'' Gandhi told DH from Meerut over phone on Tuesday.

He said that such stories should not be taught at 'co-educational' institutions and attributed the spurt in crime to them. ''Both the teacher and students will find themselves in an awkward situation in the class if such stories are taught,'' he added.

Prof. Nishi Pandey, a faculty at the English department in Lucknow University, however, slammed the opponents of the stories. ''All these are great writers...they are taught everywhere...those, who dub them as immoral, have no understanding of literature,'' she said.

''Who decides what is immoral and against the values?.....What about the great Sanskrit poet Kalidasa....his works may also be dubbed as immoral by many,'' Prof. Pandey told DH here.

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