Hearts of Darkness, Hearts of Light
Sat 24 June 10.50-11.10am
Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, SOAS, University of London, London WC1H 0XG
Writer and academic Martin Buckley has studied the great Hindu Epic The Ramayana for over a decade. His last book Indian Odyssey (Penguin An Indian Odyssey by Martin Buckley) was a journey by motorbike across modern India, exploring the ancient tale – at once an epic and a holy writ – that is India’s best loved book. The Ramayana is violent, spiritual and erotic. It is also political: it lies at the heart of India’s fiercest modern controversy, the Hindu-Muslim clash that has claimed 13,000 lives since 1992. The Ramayana‘s hero is Rama, an exiled prince who must search savage jungles for his kidnapped wife. If the tale reminds us of the Greek Odyssey and Iliad, it’s also reminiscent of Conrad’s savage tale of colonial racism, Heart of Darkness, memorably filmed as the Vietnam War allegory Apocalypse Now. But there is much light in the Ramayana too. Divali, the Hindu festival of light, marks Rama’s ultimate victory over his savage enemy.
In this presentation Martin will talk about his newest project, an updated version of the Ramayana set in a modern landscape of religious intolerance and terrorist violence.