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Mar 28, 2011

All About H. Hatter: G.V. Desani

Written in 1948, All About H. Hatter is G.V. Desani’s masterpiece. The H. Hatter in the title stands for Hindustanwallah Hatter which is a pseudonym of a fifty-five years person who the orphaned son of European seaman and non-Christian woman from Malaya. The novel is the comic record of the life of this orphan who is constantly threatened, gulled, robbed and bullied in life. The following utterance made by him gives us a true idea bout his character:
“I haven’t had my mother to love me….
I have no relations, don’t you see! I am afraid,
can’t you see?”
The novel deals with Hatter’s search for both self and the philosophy of life. He is barely one year old when his father dies. An Indian-based Scotsman adopts him. Being a rootless orphan, he keeps suffering from the sense of insecurity. Hatter’s real education begins when he runs away from the school at the age of fourteen. His main educators are five Indian sages, three women and a South Indian loanshark. The fake sages rob him of his clothes and money. Women too contribute a lot to Hatter’s education. He owes money to a washerwoman of sixty. 


When she makes advances to him, he tries to please her with a kiss or two. As the washerwoman demands much more than kisses, he runs away from her. Thus Hatter’s comic odyssey starts. Hatter’s second female educator is Mrs. Rosy, the wife of circus owner. Hatter marries his third female educator. His marriage proves to be a shattering experience. Hatter realizes at last that human life consists of justice and injustice, truth and untruth, yet we have to carry on like a genuine sportsman. H. Hatter is always haunted by a sense of insecurity. Even then, he is, in his own peculiar way, constantly engaged in search of a viable philosophy of life. The protagonist ultimately realizes that appearance is not reality. 

The author has presented the character of H. Hatter in a comic vein. The novel is famous for its charm, vitality and linguistic humour. The protagonist is superb comic creation of the author who writes “dazzling and puzzling prose” which according to Salman Rushdie is different from “the Englishness of the English language”

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