Part of this interview with Professor J.L. Wangu appeared in The Indian Teacher from New Delhi in Jan-February 1979, vol. 1, no. 2, and also in A Selection of Stephen Gill’s Interviews, edited by Dr. Anuradha Sharma, released by Orientalia in 2011. These features will appear in Stephen Gill’s forthcoming book My Conversations.
Professor JL Wangu: This optimism vis‑a‑vis pessimism brings one more question to my mind and that is what can be the future of "Novel" as a piece of art with quality of more universality and deeper psychological penetration in competition with cinema?
Stephen Gill: Well, I think that novel can survive. There are certain elements which can be portrayed only through writing e.g. philosophical thinking or working of mind. Take the example of Immigrant-- I do not think a movie maker can say through a camera what has been said in Immigrant. He will have to cut down here and there to make it a good movie. I am of the view that there will always be people to whom the written page will appeal more than a slide.
I would like to add something about the desire to tell stories. This desire is so strong that stories were carved on stones long before the recorded history began. When it was not possible to record, people memorized raw feelings and events. One example is Aesop’s Tales. People were proud to present those animal tales orally to teach morals. It is a long journey from the paintings in the caves to the modern movies and novel writing. The form has been changing according to the time but not the basic desire to share.
Several people prefer reading a novel because unlike in a movie it is easy to continue the thread of the story. A novel allows its readers to be in and out of the story whenever they like. Interruptions from outside are not very irritating while reading a novel. Moreover, a reader can take his or her book in a train or bed and continue reading. Novels are portable for endless source of entertainment.
Several novels have been adapted for movies and yet people prefer novels. What is possible in a novel is not possible to depict in a movie. So the movie-makers make changes to make a movie attractive.
Moreover, characters, story and plot in a novel inspire the reader to imagine and think. There is enough room for analysis. Novelists focus more on character developments and can display emotions more freely. Novelists can use different techniques for the art of narration.
My own novels, particularly The Coexistence and The Chhattisgarh, are different from the traditional novels. I call them the novels of ideas. Professor G. Dominic Savio & Professor SJ. Kala in A Study in Stephen Gill’s Novel The Coexistence say, ”Being packed with ideas, the novel can be categorized as philosophical novel or novel of ideas.” (p.16).
On the other hand, a movie has a strict time frame. There is no possibility to think deeply while watching a movie. To me novels and movies are two separate genres and both would survive. History is a chain of stories, and human crave stories because stories allow to express individual views about happenings and characters. As sources of entertainment and teaching, both novel and movie would live and science and technology continue enriching them.
Movies and novels will not die as the instinct to dream will not die. It is in the blood of human to dream. People dream while sleeping in the night or working during the day. These dreams have themes, characters and places though weaved loosely together. These dreams need to be weaved together in a more cohesive way. We may call this procedure editing. Dreams are the seeds of stories and these stories correspond to waking life.
Many dreamers believe that they see the shadows of future. I myself had such dreams in my sleep. Many novelists and poets are called also prophets because of their predictions. I have been called prophet by several literary critics. H.G. Wells, a scientific romance writer, is also called a prophet.
The long journey of the desire to share and the psychology of today confirm that people love to tell and hear experiences and stories. This inherent desire will not die and so novels and movies will not die, though their ways of presentations will keep changing.
NEXT FEATURE 84 OF STEPHEN GILL ANSWERS PROFESSOR DR. KV DOMINIC’S QUESTION ABOUT A WORLD WITHOUT RELIGION
About Stephen Gill:
Stephen Gill, a multiple award-winning Indo/Canadian self-exiled poet, fiction-writer and essayist, has authored more than thirty books. He is the subject of doctoral dissertations, and research papers. Thirteen books of critical studies have been released by book publishers on his works and more are on the way. His poetry and prose have appeared in nearly nine hundred publications. The focus of his writing is love and peace.