ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Rule of the Uncanny

‘Governmentality,’ and the Question of History in Basheer’s Novels

The novel as a form is argued to be the literary counterpart of an individuating world. In the postcolony, however, the novel as a form will have to find new ways to account for the rupture from history effected by the duplication of the same names across two registers, one in popular memory, and the other in governmental registers. Select works of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer are analysed to decipher how this crisis in historicity was negotiated in terms of the literary.

The author thanks the anonymous reviewer for comments and wishes to express his deep gratitude to Satish Poduval for his guidance in writing this article. He also acknowledges the assistance of the CSDS–ICSSR Fellowship in conducting a major portion of this research.

The rise of novels has been associated with the installation in the representational regime of real individuals placed in real time and place (Watt 1957). This real individual would soon be identified as the “proto-bourgeois” who could then imagine a community around them (Anderson 1983; Armstrong 2006). The themes of divergence in the postcolony with the European experience have been attentive to the variegated nature of reality in the novel milieu (Anjaria 2012), and what is realistically aspirational for the colonial subject there, in their individuation (Mukherjee 1985). That the category of the individual, a product of the colonial encounter, often has to contend with another project of the same pedigree—governmentality—against the homogenising logic of which individuation has to strive through corporeal and verbal expressions too have been noted (Tharu 2000; Bose 2006; Majeed 2009). The concern here, on the other hand, is the representational struggle in narrating the community as inheritors of a past even as it lives through the times of governmentality when communities acquire new meaning in the state register. But, the community itself undergoes a transformation as it is refracted in the governmental prism, bringing forth a crisis in representation. The concern of this article is the resolution of this crisis, one variety of which is analysed through examining the works of Vaikom Muhammad Basheer (1908–94).

The Inheritance of Loss

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Updated On : 26th Apr, 2019
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