14 August 2008

Anand truly a Modernist?

In thinking of Anand as a "Modernist" writer, I found it odd that his work was rejected 16 times before being published. Compared to the other writers of this period, why was his work less popular? On the one hand, he was a highly-educated, high-caste Indian. On the other, he was committed to Marxism and international socialism. He advocated Indian independence, but did so in London, the center of imperial power.

In an essay entitled, Mulk Raj Anand's Passage through Bloomsbury, critic Kristen Bluemel suggests:

"...the gap between the reception in leftist circles of Anand's radical fiction and his radical nonfiction suggests that Anand’s diminishing reputation among leftists had less to do with any failures of the literary imagination, and more to do with many English leftists' allegiance to England's imperial identity and specifically its right to rule India..."

She goes on to say:

"...While it is true that Anand was influenced by many of the same intellectual and political texts that other modernists and intermodernists read, his 1930s fictions struck most readers of the time as radically different for the following reasons: they are exclusively about India and Indians, are the first examples of Indo-Anglian fiction to adopt outcastes or social pariahs as their heroes, they use English in a new way to communicate Indian idiom, and they integrate the political speeches of the period’s most prominent Indian political figures, Gandhi and Nehru. More generally, Anand's fiction is regarded as a cornerstone of the first generation of Indo-Anglian writers who came to represent independent and postcolonial India..."

You can check out the full article below --- definitely worth a read.

1 comment:

Brooke Foged said...

Wow, Jasey! You always find the most interesting articles relating to our reading.

As far as Anand being a British modernist, I have lately been considering the idea that any one of the authors we've read this semester could undergo a similar challenge. It seems to me that the "definition" of modernism is extremely vague. Thinking back to one of Emilie's posts, I recall her questioning the idea that American novels published in America could be considered British modernism. The answer seems to be that anything from that time period with any sort of tie to Britain or British colonialism and any number of themes (especially alienation -- which this novel is full of) could be grouped into that genre.

It also seems to be a requirement that fiction be classified into one genre or another (even loosely), though the authors may not be consciously trying to emulate a particular style. So, perhaps Anand is considered a British modernist simply because that genre seems to fit his work more closely than any other. Although, I'm sure the argument could be made that he could also fit into other categories in addition to British modernism.

One final thought: I noticed, while reading "Untouchable", that the themes and style are incredibly similar to those of Jean Rhys, who is considered a British modernist. In fact, the similarities are striking, in my opinion.