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  1. 1. ASSIGNMENT OF: COMPARATIVE LITERAUREASSIGNMENT SUBMITTED TO: MAM RUBIATOPIC: Comparative literature study in non western world stresses the politicizationof literature and rejects the formalist approachASSIGNMENT SUBMITTED BY: FATIMA GULROLL NO: 1383 MA F11DATE: 13May, 2013
  2. 2. Comparative literature is the study of literature and other cultural expressions acrosslinguistic and cultural boundaries. Comparative literature postulates a unity in man’s social andhistorical development. Since similar social relations have existed among different peoples,historical and typological analogies may be observed in the development of different literaturesduring a single historical epoch. Comparative literature may therefore study single literaryworks, literary genres and styles, the work of individual writers, or literary trends.The aim of comparative literature is to bridge gap between different nations, civilizationsby comparing their literature. According to C.S Lewis, literature adds to reality, it does notsimply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires andprovides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become.The beauty of Literature unfolds its wings when you discover that your longings areuniversal longings, that youre not lonely and isolated from anyone, you belong is narrated by F.Scott Fitzgerald. But the dilemma is that western world in general politicizes the literature ofnon western world and presents its false reputation. This idea comes in to lime light when nonwestern writers actually realized the situation and start writing about their own culture.The formalist approach to literature was developed at the beginning of the 20th centuryand remained the primary approach to literary study until the 1970s, when other literary theoriesbegan to gain popularity. As the name suggests, formalism is concerned primarily with form.Rather than interpreting what a text means, the formalist analyzes how that that meaning iscommunicated. A critical approach that analyzes, interprets, or evaluates the inherent features ofa text. These features include not only grammar and syntax but also literary devices such asmeter and tropes.Edward Said his book „Orientalism‟ gave many words like „essentialism‟, „Eurocentrism‟, „Orientalist discourse‟, the „us-them dichotomy‟ he was one of the earliest writersto have drawn attention to the systematic nature of the western way of talking about the Orient.He has highlighted the politization of non western countries in many of his works which provesthe idea of discreetness by western people.
  3. 3. Countries like Africa which come under the map of non western world unluckily, alsosuffers from this politicization. Although Africa in itself is very rich and bears multidimensionalcivilization but unfortunately West invaded them on the name of civilization and always presentstheir barbaric side to universe throughout the history. Chinua Achebe in his novel Things FallApart has described about the beauty of land and its people. He has also portrayed the side ofpicture which is painted by the brutality of west colonizers. “The white man is very clever. Hecame quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness andallowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one.He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart.”One review in the magazine Black Orpheus said: "The book as a whole creates for thereader such a vivid picture of Ibo life that the plot and characters are little more thansymbols representing a way of life lost irrevocably within living memory.”Completely rejecting the formalist approach that what is the beauty hinting through the words ofnonwestern literature, completely fail to acknowledge the thoughts, ideas, philosophies andthemes ,west certainly prove their own uncivilized behavior .Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth suggests “Colonialism hardly ever exploits thewhole of a country. It contents itself with bringing to light the natural resources, which itextracts, and exports to meet the needs of the mother countrys industries, thereby allowingcertain sectors of the colony to become relatively rich. But the rest of the colony follows itspath of under-development and poverty, or at all events sinks into it more deeply.”Non western culture unfortunately suffers from the politicization not just collectively butalso at the individual level. V.S Naipaul when met the two brave girls in Malaysia, who werecovering themselves commented that “veil is an aggression” for people doing it. So we see thatnon western even at individual is not safe from the piercing comments of west.In Literature Lost, John Ellis, subjects the widely held assumptions and fundamentalarguments of this politicized view of literature to rigorous logical analysis. The result is asystematic discrediting of many of the broad notions that underlay race-class-gender criticism(now often called "cultural studies"). A defender of literary theory as it was once practiced in the1930s, 40s and 50s, Ellis argues that what now passes for "theory" is a "degraded and corrupt
  4. 4. shadow of what theory should be", often marred by logical inconsistency, reductivism,ahistoricism, and herd-think. As if this were not bad enough, the politicization of literary studies,and now of other areas of the humanities, is having, according to Ellis, a harmful effect onacademic culture, undermining respect for, and intellectual commitment to, knowledge,common-sense, rational thought, scholarly integrity, and collegial debate.The "progressive" political bias so obvious, according to Ellis, is an expression of a deephostility to Western civilization. Ironically, this hostility is itself an old tradition in the West.Periodically, "alienated insiders," usually intellectuals and writers have turned on the verycivilization that nurtures and rewards them .Their animus, Ellis suggests, is the result of angerand frustration over the flaws, inconsistencies, and retrogressions of their culture. Although theseflaws and inconsistencies exist in every society, they provoke a more angry response in the Westbecause this civilization promises so much, and its failure to fulfill this promise seems all themore unforgivable. At some point, anger about the "establishment," or "patriarchaloppression," or "racism" spins out of control and puts an end to clear thinking. At this point,these alienated (or adversarial) intellectuals, disillusioned and bittered, are unable to recognizelet alone value the greatest achievements of their civilization. They rivet on whatever seemsnegative. To point out to them just how much progress Western civilization has made, and howenlightened it is when compared with other cultures on the planet, "simply angers" them, forthey know "that the core of Western society is rotten, however rosy its surface appearance".Ironically, when critics condemn Western civilization for its misdeeds, hypocrisies, andfailures, they do so, Ellis observes, with values and concepts derived directly from Westerncivilization ("racism" and "human rights" make no sense unless one accepts Enlightenmentideas about our common humanity). "To demand an end to racism and sexism is not to rejectWestern society but, on the contrary, to ally oneself with certain Western values". It was theWestern tradition, and especially the European Enlightenment (irrefutably the work of deadwhite males) that "socially constructed" those liberating ideas of individual liberty, politicaldemocracy, the rule of law, human rights, gender equality, and cultural freedom that constitutethe precious legacy to which most of the world aspires .On this point Ellis quotes the forcefulwords of Arthur Schlesinger from The Disuniting of America:
  5. 5. These are European ideas, not Asian, not African.... There is surely no reason for Westerncivilization to have guilt trips laid on it by champions of cultures based on despotism,superstition, tribalism, and fanaticism.... The West needs no lectures on the superior virtue ofthose sun people who sustained slavery until Western imperialism abolished it...who still keepwomen in subjection and cut off their clitorises, who carry out racial persecutions not onlyagainst Indians and other Asians but also against fellow Africans from the wrong tribes...andwho in their tyrannies and massacres, their Idi Amins and Boukassas, have stamped withutmost brutality on human rights.11http://mtprof.msun.edu/Spr1998/ellis.html

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