Prose of the World: Modernism and the Banality of Empire [NOOK Book]

Overview


Everyday life in the far outposts of empire can be static, empty of the excitement of progress. A pervading sense of banality and boredom are, therefore, common elements of the daily experience for people living on the colonial periphery. Saikat Majumdar suggests that this impoverished affective experience of colonial modernity significantly shapes the innovative aesthetics of modernist fiction.

Prose of the World explores the global life of ...
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Prose of the World: Modernism and the Banality of Empire

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Overview


Everyday life in the far outposts of empire can be static, empty of the excitement of progress. A pervading sense of banality and boredom are, therefore, common elements of the daily experience for people living on the colonial periphery. Saikat Majumdar suggests that this impoverished affective experience of colonial modernity significantly shapes the innovative aesthetics of modernist fiction.

Prose of the World explores the global life of this narrative aesthetic, from late-colonial modernism to the present day, focusing on a writer each from Ireland (James Joyce), New Zealand (Katherine Mansfield), South Africa (Zoe Wicomb), and India (Amit Chaudhuri). Ranging from Joyce’s deflated epiphanies to Chaudhuri’s disavowal of the grand spectacle of postcolonial national narratives, Majumdar foregrounds the banal as a key instinct of modern and contemporary fiction—one that nevertheless remains submerged because of its antithetical relation to literature’s intuitive function.

Majumdar forces us to rethink the assumption that banality merely indicates an aesthetic failure. If narrative is traditionally enabled by the tremor, velocity, and excitement of the event, the historical and affective lack implied by the banal produces a narrative force that is radically new precisely because it suspends the conventional impulses of narration.
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Editorial Reviews

Rebecca L. Walkowitz
Prose of the World is an enormously compelling and vivid study. It shows convincingly that the experience of colonial banality was a principal engine of literary modernism. Bringing a transnational perspective to the history of twentieth-century Anglophone fiction, Majumdar provincializes modernism by putting its aesthetic celebration of the ordinary into conversation with the geopolitics of crushing boredom. The result is an ambitious, timely, and eloquent account of the relationship between early-twentieth-century fiction and the contemporary global novel in English.
Derek Attridge
This well-informed, searching study throws new light on the literary consequences of empire. Its insightful account of the experience of boredom and banality on the political and cultural periphery, and of writers' responses to this experience, will be valued by all those interested in the global transformations of modernism and the relation between artistic creativity and colonial hegemony.
Simon Gikandi
There are many impressive things in this book: it provides us with a powerful rethinking of the vexed relationship between empire and modernism, an unprecedented probing of the internal logic of the modernist movement, and a smart meditation on the role of the ordinary and banal in the making of the language of modernism.
Times Literary Supplement
Thorough and challenging, this study offers the reader... a new way of thinking about late-colonial modernist fiction's deployment of the banal... [and] offers a powerful if indirect commentary on the considerable failings of postcolonial modernity.
Choice

Highly recommended.

Choice
Highly recommended.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231527675
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 1/22/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 248
  • File size: 17 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Saikat Majumdar is an assistant professor of English at Stanford University and the author of a novel, Silverfish.

Columbia University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Poetics of the Prosaic1. James Joyce and the Banality of Refusal2. Katherine Mansfield and the Fragility of Pakeha Boredom3. The Dailiness of Trauma and Liberation in Zoë Wicomb 4. Amit Chaudhuri and the Materiality of the MundaneEpilogue: The UneventfulAcknowledgmentsNotes Bibliography Index

Columbia University Press

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