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EXISTENTIALISM AND FEMINISM IN ANITA DESAI’S FIRE ON THE MOUNTAIN (Pages 01-12) by Mr. Sachin Sharma in THE ENGLISH INDIA / ISSN: 2321-1172 (Online); 2347-2634 (Print)

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Like “rationalism” and “empiricism,” “existentialism” is a term that belongs to intellectual history. The term was explicitly adopted as a self-description by Jean-Paul Sartre, and through the wide dissemination of the postwar literary and philosophical output of Sartre and his associates—notably Simone de Beauvoir, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Albert Camus. Existentialism became identified with a cultural movement that flourished in Europe in the 1940s and 1950s. Existentialism in the broader sense is a 20th century philosophy that is centered upon the analysis of existence and of the way humans find themselves existing in the world. The notion is that humans exist first and then each individual spends a lifetime changing their essence or nature. Sartre viewed the universe as an irrational, meaningless sphere. Existence was absurd and life had no sense, no purpose, and no explanation. He felt "nauseated" by the vastness of this empty, pointless predicament, and he wrestled many hours for a meaningful solution. It was in this frame of mind that he produced his massive philosophical study, being and Nothingness, after having already written several important books on related subjects. Anita Desai’s novels create evocative and deeply moving stories of individual lives caught in the troubles of socio-cultural and existential dilemma. She has always reveled in exploring the deeper aspects of human subjects and tried to explore the challenging aspects of their lives. She lends her characters particularly women characters a voice and an audience by depicting “mute miseries and helplessness of married women”. She has presented the emotional upheavals of women with varied strains of feminine sensibility. Her women characters embody existential predicament in total marginality of common lives living with ill-matched husbands. Fire on the Mountain by Anita Desai is set at the backdrop of the Shimla Hills beautifully and artistically depicting the Indian life and the stages of the old age. The complicacies of the relationship and filial ties gain enunciation in this novel .The novel portrays the existential angst experienced by the protagonist Nanda Kaul, who is an old lady living in isolation. The term feminism is an ideology in the making. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term ‘Feminism’ was first used in the later part of the 19th century and it means having the qualities of the females. In general, feminism is the ideology of women’s liberation since intrinsic in all its approaches is a woman who recognizes herself, and is recognized by others as feminism. Feminism means a sense of personal courage. The feminist consciousness in the consciousness of the victimization, Anita Desai a prominent Indo-Anglian has chosen English as the medium for the ‘exploration of feminine sensibility’. She is a representative of the present trend in our Indian English fiction. She represents the welcome ‘the creative release of the feminine sensibility which began to emerge after the World War II. Her novels present an explanation to the long smothered wail of a lacerated psyche. The novel, Fire on the Mountain has also underpinnings of feminism in the character of Nanda Kaul. The following passage from Simon de Beauvoir’s observations on the plight of the’ married woman’ seems to be particularly relevant in studying Nanda Kaul’s personality, and in understanding her deliberate posture of a stiff withdrawal. The paper attempts to explore the nuances of the present text in the light of existentialism and feminism and to establish the affinity of Indian writing in English with the then contemporary literary scenario.novel portrays the existential angst experienced by the protagonist Nanda Kaul, who is an old lady living in isolation. The term feminism is an ideology in the making. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the term ‘Feminism’ was first used in the later part of the 19th century and it means having the qualities of the females. In general, feminism is the ideology of women’s liberation since intrinsic in all its approaches is a woman who recognizes herself, and is recognized by others as feminism. Feminism means a sense of personal courage. The feminist consciousness in the consciousness of the victimization, Anita Desai a prominent Indo-Anglian has chosen English as the medium for the ‘exploration of feminine sensibility’. She is a representative of the present trend in our Indian English fiction. She represents the welcome ‘the creative release of the feminine sensibility which began to emerge after the World War II. Her novels present an explanation to the long smothered wail of a lacerated psyche. The novel, Fire on the Mountain has also underpinnings of feminism in the character of Nanda Kaul. The following passage from Simon de Beauvoir’s observations on the plight of the’ married woman’ seems to be particularly relevant in studying Nanda Kaul’s personality, and in understanding her deliberate posture of a stiff withdrawal. The paper attempts to explore the nuances of the present text in the light of existentialism and feminism and to establish the affinity of Indian writing in English with the then contemporary literary scenario.Keywords: Rationalism, empiricism, existentialism, intellectual history, postwar literature, philosophical study, protagonist, feminism, contemporary literature etc.

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