A Deconstructionist Study of Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason, The Shadow Lines and The Glass Palace A PhD Viva Presentation Tamishra swain Research Scholar Dept of English and Modern European Languages , Banasthali University Rajasthan – 304022
Objectives Objectives to know Amitav Ghosh’s writings in general and three novels taken for study in particular; to examine the South Asian perspecitve and concern in Ghosh’s writings; to evaluate the three novels from a deconstructing point of view; to arrive at a unified writing style of Mr. Ghosh.
Research Questions Amitav Ghosh’s writings especially the novels have proximity with deconstruction; His novel writings adheres to the Derridean concept of meaning; Binarism and multiple meanings are the two major points of attribution which very much matches with Ghosh’s writings; His historicism confirms the re-writings of the archives and facts.
Chapterisation Chapter-1 Introduction Chapter-2 Deconstructing a Text Chapter-3 Asiatic Narratives Deconstructing a Text
Chaptersiation Chapter-4 The Circle of Reason: The Ambivalence of Migrancy Chapter-5 The Shadow Lines: The Heteroglossic Identities Chapter-6 The Glass Palace: The Chaordic Diaspora Chapter-7 Summing Up
Introduction Chapter 1 The chapter serves as blue print of the entire work. It begins with the importance of Amitav Ghosh’s writings especially in international scenario. The points follow step by step why Amitav Ghosh was chosen for this study. The
Why Amitav Ghosh? Amitav Ghosh’s writings have been appreciated,examined and analyzed from a variety of perspectives. Review literatures, critical perspectives and journal articles reveal the proliferation of deconstructionist criticism of his works exclusively the political/social consequences of Asian in general to that South Asian ethnicity in particular
The close reading of Amitav Ghosh is informed by deconstruction theory . And the work focuses on the manner in which Ghosh is a deconstructionist writer whose subject clearly reveals his concerns with the marginalization, oppression, displacement, rootlessness, migration and human development.
The work begins by exploring the nexus between history and fiction during the postmodern and postcolonial times. The relation between history and fiction forms the basis of various histories that are represented in the novels. Ghosh filters world history, national history, Diaspora, human movement, invasion and explorations recorded in historical accounts and the postcolonial interpretation, colonial history and power in all his works.
The deconstructionist approach of the study aims to explore the relationship between the existing and acceptable, real and possible. Culture, myths, religion, tradition, heritage that blend and merge, presenting a curiously hybrid picture. Further areas that the study focuses on include geographical locale, literary allusions and the creative usage of language, highlighting their historical perspective as mentioned in the novels of Ghosh.
Thus, the research work is an attempt to bring forth various conflicting forces at work and their relevance and draw out their inter-relatedness. The critical framework is designed keeping in view the concepts of deconstruction such as ; magic realism, multiple meaning, relative truth, binarism, intertextuality, historiographic metafiction, indeterminacy and hybridity
His training in anthropology could pace his writings to have a clear picture of ethnicity and reality of human living. This training could provide a first hand experience in getting the raw materials for the body movement, migrancy,rootlessness and cultural nuances.
The research work includes Ghosh’s three novels The Circle of Reason , The Shadow Lines and The Glass Palace as it was not possible to reach out to the whole of Ghosh’s writings.
Pushing forward the arguments in defense of Amitav Ghosh’s writings, his narrative style and the thematic deliberation were specially taken into consideration. His background writings with training in anthropology, insightful experience in ethnology and deeper concern for his own branded domain ‘South Asia’, were highlighted.
Introduction Chapter 1 Chapter 1 begins with His main concern for bringing in the South Asian communities to the map of streamline awareness and how ‘the other’ has created centre and peripheral analysis of these communities. He tries to dismantle and to recreate the centre. In all the three novels Burma, India, Malaysia, Bangladesh features prominently.
The key cultural features of analysis are migration, nation and nationalism, oppression, marginalization and displacement. Ghosh’s message to rewrite history and recreate ‘the centre’ is pushed forward substantially.
Deconstructing a Text Chapter 2 Chapter 2 Deconstructing a Text is about providing a general framework of reading a text. The substantial argument of the chapter woos to Derrida’s deconstruction in general and deconstructing principles in particular. Multiple meanings and binarism are the two important Derridean attributes discussed in the work.
Citations from other deconstructionist opinions are listed to strengthen the argument. Examples from deconstructionist analysis of texts are provided. In between quotes from Ghosh’s writings especially from the three proposed novels are supported to justify Ghosh’s writings are of deconstructionist nature.
What is Deconstrcution? Deconstruction is a way of reading a text. It was originally a method of literary criticism and only applied to literary texts. The emphasis in this form of reading is never to learn the intended meaning of the author, but rather the subjective interpretations of the readers.
It could be summarized as follows: The endless play in language and literary texts; The unreliability of any meaning; The openness of texts;
The instability of language; The unfinalisability of any meaning or texts; The relationships between words, meanings and texts as intrinsic to meaning rather than the words themselves.
Linearity is foreign in his scholarly works as non-linearity is maintained in the novels. The chapter involves a discussion of the origin of non-linearity with Indian ‘puranic’ examples of storytelling to modern hypertext analysis of the text.
Asiatic Narratives Chapter 3 Chapter 3 Asiatic Narratives is devoted to the study of Ghosh’s narrative techniques It is Asiatic as the narrative tradition Mr.Ghosh maintained is found to be a common phenomena in the writings especially the folk and puranic literature of Asia.
Ghosh's remarkably assured all the novels on the pattern of brilliance lies in its Panchatantra or Thousand and One Nights -like capacity for juggling a range of stories. Its proliferating tales lack authority in the sense that they are the product of individual imaginations and telling.
Explaining further: Ghosh’s narrative techniques pack with: Non-linearity (opposed to grand or linear narratives). Hypertext Magic Realism
The Circle of Reason: The Ambivalence of Migrancy Chapter 4 Chapter 4 The Circle of Reason: The Ambivalence of Migrancy provides an argumentative picture of migrant bodies. Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason concludes on an affirmative note that has not entirely been prepared for, with Alu, now no longer a fugitive, about to return “home” and optimistic about his new beginning.
The ambivalent picture is depicted as the migrants are not sure enough the reason behind to migrate from one place to another. It juxtaposes the traditional belief of migration being takes place for betterment of life and gets settled in a particular geographical location.
Two key attributes are discussed in this chapter; Migration: Defend the boundary-less space so that free movement of people is possible. Ambivalence supports the argument to say migration is an ongoing process.
In postmodern migrant writings the theorists take a postcolonial view into account with vivid descriptions of rootlessness, homelessness and Identity. However ‘identity’ takes a major point of discussion in it. Identity has a class relation with narrative so identity has a history.
At one time it was taken for granted that a person had a ‘given’ identity. The debates around it today assume that identity is not an inherent quality of a person but that it arises in interaction with others and focus is on the process by which the identity is constructed.
The Shadow Lines: The Heteroglossic Identies Chapter 5 Chapter 5 The Shadow Lines: The Heteroglossic Identities links Bakhtin’s views on the ‘othernesses’ present within a given linguistic and cultural system with Bhabha’s ideas about the ambivalence of national identities, this chapter is a reading of The Shadow Lines to examine the ways in which the novel offers a critique of hegemonic constructions of otherness and difference in formulations of “the national” in the susubcontinent
In particular, the chapter aims to demonstrate that it is Ghosh’s commitment to the dynamics of heteroglossia that rejects as separatist, inimical and ultimately self-defeating the binary logic inherent in the nationalist construction of boundaries at Partition.
The chapter further discusses the ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’ is defined through a series of memory not by geographical boundaries and very much based upon Benedict Anderson’s ‘imagined communities’.
Ghosh argues: Nation is not a territory surrounded by geographical boundaries, as Mr. Ghosh defends. Ghosh’s views goes parallel with the apt word nation is ‘imagined communities’ by Benedict Anderson.
Memory plays a role which takes and gets back to those physical places. A boundary-less nation is propagated in this novel.
The Glass Palace: The Chaordic Diaspora Chapter 6 The Glass Palace: The Chaordic Diaspora unfolds a period of hundred years of pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial Burmese history as families are formed and individual characters experience loss and joy.
Mr. Ghosh talks of Asian diaspora and South-Asian in particular. Following the deconstructionist principles deferring the centres and recreating another, Mr. Ghosh’s The Glass Palace was made. Cultural displacement and rootlessness were key attributes in his novel.
King, Queen and other dignitaries are treated commoner in this novel. No individual was given importance here as centres are created every moment. King Thebaw and Queen Supalayat were displaced from their palacial Glass Palace of Burma and impriosned in unimportant place called Ratnagiri in remote India.
The British soldiers from Indian and other origins are suddenly woke up and think what for and against whom do they fight. The disorder in cultural and diasporic understanding is immanent to the orderly meaning. The chaos or the breaks is needed for orderly understanding.
Summing Up Chapter 7 Chapter 7 Summing Up is the last chapter which gives the concluding remarks of the study. Any novelist is known for their narrative style so as Amitav Ghosh. His unique narrative style Asiatic Narrative techniques is broadly discussed in a separate chapter 3 whose brief is provided in the last chapter.
Three separate sections in the form of three chapters are devoted to the three novels and each novel is discussed with wide citations from the text and the critical source books. Every argument is forwarded with supportive lines to strengthen the premises of discussion. This chapter is the summing up of the entire argument.
Two major research questions were to show binarism and plurality. In all his novels especially three taken for study were proved in this theses.