The Event of Postcolonial Shame [NOOK Book]

Overview

In a postcolonial world, where structures of power, hierarchy, and domination operate on a global scale, writers face an ethical and aesthetic dilemma: How to write without contributing to the inscription of inequality? How to process the colonial past without reverting to a pathology of self-disgust? Can literature ever be free of the shame of the postcolonial epoch--ever be truly postcolonial? As disparities of power seem only to be increasing, such questions are more urgent than ever. In this book, Timothy ...

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The Event of Postcolonial Shame

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Overview

In a postcolonial world, where structures of power, hierarchy, and domination operate on a global scale, writers face an ethical and aesthetic dilemma: How to write without contributing to the inscription of inequality? How to process the colonial past without reverting to a pathology of self-disgust? Can literature ever be free of the shame of the postcolonial epoch--ever be truly postcolonial? As disparities of power seem only to be increasing, such questions are more urgent than ever. In this book, Timothy Bewes argues that shame is a dominant temperament in twentieth-century literature, and the key to understanding the ethics and aesthetics of the contemporary world.

Drawing on thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Theodor Adorno, and Gilles Deleuze, Bewes argues that in literature there is an "event" of shame that brings together these ethical and aesthetic tensions. Reading works by J. M. Coetzee, Joseph Conrad, Nadine Gordimer, V. S. Naipaul, Caryl Phillips, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Zoë Wicomb, Bewes presents a startling theory: the practices of postcolonial literature depend upon and repeat the same structures of thought and perception that made colonialism possible in the first place. As long as those structures remain in place, literature and critical thinking will remain steeped in shame.

Offering a new mode of postcolonial reading, The Event of Postcolonial Shame demands a literature and a criticism that acknowledge their own ethical deficiency without seeking absolution from it.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Bewes has established himself as a leading theorist of negative affect. . . . Bewes's account of the materialization of shame that is less communicative than affective, and thus potentially transformative, should interest readers across the humanities and social sciences.
From the Publisher
"Bewes has established himself as a leading theorist of negative affect. . . . Bewes's account of the materialization of shame that is less communicative than affective, and thus potentially transformative, should interest readers across the humanities and social sciences."—Choice

"Whether one finds that Bewes's move to the structural level opens up new horizons for literary study or abstracts too decisively from historical situatedness will depend on one's theoretical inclinations. For readers of either proclivity, however, his intelligent and original book is likely to elicit a lively and engaged response."—Michael Rothberg, Project Muse

"Bewes book constitutes a welcome and original intervention in postcolonial theory, and the questions he asks go to the heart of the postcolonial dilemma. . . . These questions are crucial, and Bewes' vision of 'a writing freed from the shaming, subtractive consciousness of a being who writes' surely points us in the right direction."—Ursula Kluwick, Project Muse

"Compelling, probing, and conceptually masterful."—David James, Twentieth-Century Literature

"There is much to be said in praise of Bewes' achievement in this work. The theoretical structure he proposes is outlined with admirable clarity in its opening sections, in clear prose that should be a model for academic writing. Each chapter refines and embellishes this theoretical structure, building logically on the work of preceding chapters and towards those that follow. Each theoretical innovation is elucidated through a textual encounter, and in each case the result is a strikingly original reading of a canonical postcolonial novel. . . . What he provides us with here is nothing less than a groundbreaking new theory of the novel."—Tom Langley, Interventions

"Few books published recently in the field of postcolonial studies can rival the virtuosic brilliance of Timothy Bewes' The Event of Postcolonial Shame. Dense, challenging and thought-provoking, the work's dazzling erudition, which combines highly inventive readings of an impressive array of philosophers, writers, literary and cinematic texts, opens new critical inroads into the relation between ethics and aesthetics. . . . By framing and asking a set of fresh and inventive ones, Timothy Bewes challenges us with the task of creating a more rigorous intellectual engagement with the aesthetics and ethics of postcoloniality. The Event of Postcolonial Shame is a remarkable and stunning work of scholarship."—Raji Vallury, New Formations

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781400836499
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 11/22/2010
  • Series: Translation/Transnation
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Course Book
  • Pages: 240
  • File size: 819 KB

Meet the Author

Timothy Bewes is associate professor of English at Brown University. He is the author of "Cynicism and Postmodernity" and "Reification, or the Anxiety of Late Capitalism".
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Prologue 1

Part One: The Form of Shame
Chapter One: Shame as Form 11
Form and Disjunction: A Recent History 15
Primo Levi's The Drowned and the Saved 20
Three Preliminary Theses 23
Postcolonial Shame and the Novel 41

Chapter Two: Shame, Ventriloquy, and the Problem of the Cliché: Caryl Phillips 49
Precipitation of Shame 53
The Materiality of Postcolonial Shame 56
Cambridge and Crossing the River 61
The Poetics of Impossibility 66

Part Two: The Time of Shame
Chapter Three: The Shame of Belatedness: Late Style in V. S. Naipaul 75
Being and Belatedness 78
Late Style in Adorno 82
Liber solemnis: The Enigma of Arrival 87
Crystal of Shame: The Mimic Men 94

Chapter Four: Shame and Revolutionary Betrayal: Joseph Conrad,
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Zoë Wicomb 100
Hegel: Text as Antitext 103
Joseph Conrad: Form as the Evacuation of Form 108
Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o: The Imminence of Betrayal 115
Zoë Wicomb: The Difference of the Same 123
Alain Badiou: Subtraction versus Realization 128
Part Three: The Event of Shame

Chapter Five: The Event of Shame in J. M. Coetzee 137
The Problem of "Agency" 138
Two Shames in Coetzee 142
Diary of a Bad Year 146
The New Direction 150
Positively White: Slow Man and Corporeal Shame 153

Chapter Six: Shame and Subtraction: Towards Postcolonial Writing 164
The Origins of This Book: Michel Leiris 167
Deleuze and Sartre 169
Subtraction 173
Louis Malle's L'Inde fantôme 178
Towards Postcolonial Writing 187

Notes 193
Index 219

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