University of Tasmania
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Inventing India : a history of India in fiction

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posted on 2023-05-26, 22:33 authored by Crane, Ralph J., 1957-
The title, Inventing India: A History of India in Fiction, has been chosen to suggest that whilst India may be found on any map, it has no single, 'true' identity; further, the title suggests the importance of the strange marriage between fiction and history, which leads to the invention of more than one India. The study follows, chronologically, the history of India from the Mutiny of 1857 to the Emergency of 1975, through the works of twentieth-century novelists who have written about particular periods of Indian history from within various periods of literary history. The earliest novel treated is Rudyard Kipling's Kim (1901), the latest Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children (1981). Although any such discussion must involve some consideration of the theories of history and literature, I have minimized theoretical discussion in order to concentrate on ideas of historicity revealed by the texts themselves. The introductory chapter considers the unique place India has held in the British imagination. It acknowledges that, as a genre, the historical novel is as loose and baggy as Henry James's monsters of fiction; nevertheless it discusses ways in which the notion of such a genre may prove useful critically. This leads to a consideration of those novels which lie on the periphery of the genre, yet still manifest a strong zeitgeist. The seven central chapters each deal with a specific period of Indian history. In some chapters the treatments of the same period of history by British and Indian novelists are compared, and it is also shown that seminal works like Rudyard Kipling's Kim and E.M. Forster's A Passage to India have powerfully directed later novelists' perceptions of India. In the chapters 'Bridges' and 'Swaraj,' the importance of Gandhi invites analysis of how the lives of well-documented historical figures can influence the blending of fact and fiction. Kushwant Singh's Mano Majra and Chaman Nahal's Azadi form the basis of a discussion of Partition, whilst Paul Scott's Staying On and Nayantara Sahgal's Rich Like Us focus the issues which face the Anglo-Indian, Eurasian, and Indian communities after Independence. A constant thread in the thesis is the exploration of the use of paintings as iconography and allegory, used in the novels to reveal aspects of British-Indian relationships. Throughout, the thesis works towards a demonstration of how the invention of India has moved from the fringes of world literature written in English, to hold a central place in the imagination of postmodemist writers.


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Copyright 1989 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Bibliography: p. 248-259. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1990

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