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History, Narrative, and Testimony in Amitav Ghosh's Fiction

Chitra Sankaran

Publication Year: 2012

Comprehensive overview of the work of Indian novelist Amitav Ghosh.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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Chronological Bioprofile

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pp. ix-xi

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Introduction: Beyond Borders and Boundaries

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pp. xiii-xxxii

“LIKE THE OPIUM that forms its subject, the narrative becomes increasingly powerful and addictive as it takes hold,”1 writes William Dalrymple, author of The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty on Amitav Ghosh’s most recent novel, Sea of Poppies, which was published in 2008. The novel, the first in a projected trilogy, made it to the Man Booker Prize shortlist (though not winning it), the first of Amitav Ghosh’s novels to do so. It later went on to win the Vodafone Crossword...

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1. Diasporic Predicaments: An Interview with Amitav Ghosh

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pp. 1-15

CS: Your two recent novels The Glass Palace and The Hungry Tide have been seen as concerned with larger historical or global movements. They are often perceived as compelling explorations of some of the central problems and dilemmas surrounding both colonialism and globalization, concerned with ways individual predicaments and larger...

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2. Unlikely Encounters: Fiction and Scientific Discoursein the Novels of Amitav Ghosh

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pp. 17-32

WHY SHOULD HISTORIANS of colonialism read Amitav Ghosh’s novels? For pleasure, of course; but there are also what I’ll call disciplinary reasons. Since the publication of Orientalism in 1978, historians have wrestled with what our discipline can do to rectify the egregious oversimplifications and appropriations into which it fell over the last two hundred years, and whether it can finally contribute to...

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3. The Glass Palace: Reconnecting Two Diasporas

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pp. 33-46

THIS CHAPTER FOCUSES ON the fictional representation in Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Glass Palace of the two major types of Indian diaspora— the new diaspora of the twentieth century, with its connection with the mainland relatively intact and the old plantation labor diaspora of indentured workers who went to the outposts of the erstwhile British Empire in conditions of extreme material and...

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4. Resignifying “Coolie”: Amitav Ghosh’s The Glass Palace

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pp. 47-64

In all three excerpts, images of the Indian coolies’ docility and their status as outcastes are overtly predominant. The general assumption of Indian coolies in the Southeast region (as well as in most of the other colonies that they migrated to under classic colonial capitalism) rests mainly on such lines. Yet, as Hugh Tinker...

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5. The Girmitiyas’ Journey in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies

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pp. 65-78

NO OTHER FEATURE of Indian emigration has attracted greater scholarly attention than the experience of indenture. Assessments of its impact have varied from early accounts that credited the experience of indenture with improving the socioeconomic position of Indian peasants and broadening their perspectives to others,...

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6. Shadows and Mysteries: Illusions of Imagined Communities in Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines

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pp. 79-93

IN IMAGINED COMMUNITIES, cultural historian Benedict Anderson explores “the affective bonds of nationalism” (64), illustrating the ways in which the eighteenth-century erosion of religious communities and collapse of political dynasties left people craving a sense of belonging that found expression in nationalistic affiliations,...

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7. Amitav Ghosh’s“ Imagined Communities”: The Hungry Tide as a Possible “Other” World

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pp. 95-108

ARCADIA, OR THE utopian Paradise dreamed by Gonzalo in The Tempest, does not exactly reflect the reality of the island on which Prospero, Caliban, Miranda, and all the other characters happen to live in the well-known Shakespearian play. Gonzalo, the loyal and ingenuous king’s counselor, seems to quote from Michel...

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8. Sharing Landscapes and Mindscapes: Ethics and Aesthetics in Amitav Ghosh’s The Calcutta Chromosome

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pp. 109-119

The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery, as it is described, is Amitav Ghosh’s first venture into science fiction territory. The novel, published in 1996, won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for the year’s best science fiction in 1997. The story...

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9. Language and Ethics in The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

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pp. 121-132

AS IS USUAL IN narratives by Amitav Ghosh, the three main characters of The Hungry Tide, his sixth novel, stem from varying social and linguistic backgrounds. Piya is an Indian expatriate cetologist brought up in America with practically no knowledge of Bangla or any other language spoken in India. Kanai is an upper-middle-class translator...

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10. Ghosh, Language, and The Hungry Tide

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pp. 133-144

ENGLISH IS “almost a default language” for Ghosh (Steger 30). But he is not always satisfied with it. Ghosh confesses that “One of the basic questions I’ve always had to face as an Indian writing in English concerns language” (Roy 8). He recognizes...

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11. Intertexuality in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide

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pp. 145-170

WHAT IS STRIKING in Amitav Ghosh’s novel The Hungry Tide, aside from the stunning descriptions of the “hungry tides” that overwhelm the archipelago of the Sundarbans in the Bay of Bengal, the kind of vivid and minute descriptions one has come to expect from Ghosh’s writings, and aside from the associations one would...

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12. “Dwelling in Travel”: In An Antique Land and the Making of a Resisting Post-Colonial History

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pp. 171-190

TO THE ETHNOGRAPHER, “home represents the norm, the known, and the habitual; it is the territory where everything looks familiar and inherent to the traveler’s understanding. Abroad, on the contrary, symbolizes the unusual, the foreign” (Santana 1). The ethnographer grapples with this distinction most readily in the...

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13. The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery: A Tour de Force Transcending Genres

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pp. 191-204

AMITAV GHOSH’S The Calcutta Chromosome: A Novel of Fevers, Delirium and Discovery (1996, UK release), winner of the 1997 Arthur C. Clarke Award for the best science fiction, is seen first and foremost by some as a science fiction text, but it is also very much a postcolonial text, belonging to that new genre breed: postcolonial science fiction. Ghosh’s...

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14. Inner Circles and the Voice of the Shuttle: Native Forms and Narrative Structure in Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason

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pp. 205-217

IN A FAMOUS ESSAY on poetic language, Geoffrey Hartman—referring to the literary archetype of Sophocles’ Philomela and her tapestry-tale, which narrates her violation in ways that her mutilated tongue cannot—speaks of the “voice of the shuttle” in which certain key literary scenes seem “to exist prior to the plays that embody them,” constituting “a part greater than the whole of which it is a part, a text that demands...


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pp. 219-222


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pp. 223-239

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9781438441825
E-ISBN-10: 1438441827
Print-ISBN-13: 9781438441818
Print-ISBN-10: 1438441819

Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2012