The river is three-quarters empty: Some literary takes on rivers and landscape in India and Australia
My title is a distorted borrowing from the historical novel by Ranga Rao. The River is Three-quarters Full, a title in turn apparently borrowed from a Telugu proverb about the beneficent powers of riverine nature and the ultimate benevolence of the cosmos. The phrase "three-quarters full" is invoked repeatedly by villagers during a major drought in which East India Company idealists envisage canals and controlled water management while their profiteering colleagues mismanage famine and pursue their won advantage. Rao's novel provides a link with and point of contrast to the floods and droughts now legendary in Australia, and to the historical novels set on the Murray and Darling rivers by South Australian writer Nancy Cato.
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