Neither Mirror nor Mimic: Transnational Reading and Indian Narratives in English

Jessica Berman

in The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780195338904
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Neither Mirror nor Mimic: Transnational Reading and Indian Narratives in English

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At the end of Mulk Raj Anand's celebrated novel Untouchable, Bakha, the poor sweeper boy who is its hero, encounters the problem of how to reconcile India's past and future within contemporary politics. This article highlights Bakha's synthesis, the culmination of this day-in-the-life novel, as deeply engaged with the question of modernity. Modernism seems already to inhabit the early twentieth-century Indian novel in English as it comes of age, rather than appearing belatedly, as many have claimed, in the post-independence period. The discussion argues that Indian narratives in English of the late colonial period reveal strikingly innovative approaches to the twin problems of the development of subjectivity and political engagement, which at the same time also interact with the European literary tradition and challenge preconceived notions about what modernism can be.

Keywords: Indian modernism; Mulk Raj Anand; Bakha; Untouchable; late colonial India

Article.  12153 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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