Untouchable Fictions: Literary Realism and the Crisis of Caste
Literary Realism and the Crisis of Caste
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: Fordham University Press
Title Page, Copyright
I have dedicated this book to my eldest maternal uncle, Chandrahas Hiralal Shah, professor of agricultural economics, spiritualist, guide, and friend. Motamama, as we affectionately call him, who mingles the Gita and Marx, prefers peanuts to almonds—“the food of the common man”—and reminded...
Three Burnings: An Introduction
In Dalit literature, everything is metanarrative. Born from the self-consciousness of any literature of radical protest, Dalit (untouchable caste) literature,1 engendered by caste oppression and caste consciousness, occasions a self-reflexivity that works at several levels: language and metaphor, political philosophy...
1. The Dalit Limit Point: Realism, Representation, and Crisis in Premchand
Modern Hindi literature, it is said, begins with Premchand. The early nineteenth-century writers of Hindi, producing “literature” in an only recently standardized and consolidated “language,” were writing pedagogical treatises, educational texts for students at Fort William College in Calcutta...
2. Modernism, Marxism, Metaphor: The Origins of a Literary Politics of Particularism
The question of Dalit chetna (consciousness) is the central question of contemporary Dalit literature, a revision of a very old problematic that has haunted the literature of progressivism, social realism, socialist realism, anticolonialism and protest: How does the literary text articulate and propel an explicit...
3. A Perfect Whole: Knowledge by Transcription and Rural Regionalism
In Dalit sahitya ka saundaryashastra (The Aesthetics of Dalit Literature) Hindi writer and critic Omprakash Valmiki lays out the basic conditions for Dalit chetna, or “Dalit consciousness,” that crucial element for the production of Dalit literature. His list of thirteen items includes Ambedkarism, anti-capitalism...
4. Casteless Modernities: The Contemporary Anglophone Novel and Its Invisible Interlocutors
In a Dalit autobiography from the 1950s, Hazari’s I Was an Outcaste,1 the narrator writes: “I could not make up my mind, whether to fight for the freedom of India or to fight for the freedom of untouchables from the degradation of the caste system” (92). The Dalit perspective that emerges from the narrative...
5. Some Time between Revisionist and Revolutionary . . . : Reading History in Dalit Textuality
In one telling moment, the narrator of Omprakash Valmiki’s Joothan1 (one of the many Hindi Dalit autobiographies) recalls a Brahmin teacher who has instructed his students to rip out several controversial pages on Dalit history from their school primer. Officially sanctioned by the textbooks...
Epilogue: Aesthetics and Their Afterlives
Identarian literary movements draw their strength from past ideological failures while being deeply indebted to the cultural politics, and even the forms, of the movements they leave behind. This is in both the Adornian sense of the cultural scars that remain, marring the newness of any artistic project...
Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2012
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