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پرسش و پاسخ
Language of Document
Jack Edward Mallot, Jr.
Title & Author
Transtextualities: Memory, nationalism and narrative in contemporary South Asian literatures in EnglishJack Edward Mallot, Jr.
The University of Iowa
Transtextualities concerns English-language fictions by A. Sivanandan, Mukul Kesavan, Salman Rushdie, Michael Ondaatje, Shauna Singh Baldwin, Amitav Ghosh and Kamila Shamsie. These authors seek to intervene in nationalist practices that exclude minority voices from official versions of history and, by extension, from agency within the body politic. At the same time, “writing the forgotten narratives” presents critical difficulties. Following the emergence of Western memory studies—dominated by Holocaust and sexual abuse narratives—many find those currently available models inadequate, even unviable, when exported to a South Asian context. Scholars warn that attempting to recover every “forgotten” memory can prove misleading and dangerous. Finally, many writers deny that any narrative can effectively “correct” prevailing, state-sponsored histories, particularly because the process of translating lived experience into verbal expression inevitably results in distorted “recollections.” The authors in this study interrogate the construction and maintenance of nationalism while analyzing how memory works and how the past is textualized. Reflecting psychologists' commonly held belief that recollection combines linguistic and nonlinguistic activity, they create verbal representations of nonverbal forms of remembering. Writers consider the promise and limitations of expressions of memory offered in such nonlinguistic sites as food, clothing, maps, visual arts and the human body. The supposed trafficking between memory's “texts” is, of course, merely an illusion—each of these “alternative” texts remains exclusively verbal. Transtextual interplay offers, however, co-generative tension between traditional narrative and nonverbal counter-texts, each informing and illuminating the other. The transtextual encounter opens intriguing possibilities for novelists attempting to understand the process of memory while challenging nationalist narrative. This synthesis reflects the human tendency to encode and access the past through multiple narrative forms. It provides, metaphorically, a truer representation of individual and collective memory; psychologically, transtextual experimentation gauges more effectively the emotional impact of specific events. Transtextuality even exposes the power of nationalist rhetoric, which itself employs verbal and “nonverbal” texts to advance and enforce its claims. These authors suggest methods by which subaltern subjects, themselves going outside commonly recognized forms of narrative, find multiple, powerful ways to “speak,” particularly in relation to events which would otherwise remain unspeakable.
Language, literature and linguistics; English; India; Memory; Narrative; Nationalism; Pakistan; Sri Lanka; Transtextualities; Literature; Asian literature; British and Irish literature; 0593:British and Irish literature; 0305:Asian literature; 0298:Literature
M. L. K. Emery, Priya
The University of Iowa
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