Violence, Indenture and Capitalist realism in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies

Dhar, Nandini (2022) Violence, Indenture and Capitalist realism in Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies. In: India after World History : Literature, Comparison, and Approaches to Globalization. Global Connections: Routes and Roots, 3 . Leiden University Press, Leiden, pp. 115-149. ISBN 9789400604322

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Much recent literary criticism, predicated upon a binary opposition between the “past” and the “present”, prevents us from critically understanding a crucial group of literary texts which have emerged in the early twentieth century in Indian Anglophone literature. Realism remains, in Indian literature, a persistent presence, in spite of its many critiques, and it operates in far more complex ways than an unilinear documentation of the troubled present. Within novels that often move between the past and the present in metafictional forms, one may include Amitav Ghosh’s Ibis Trilogy, Neel Mukherjee’s The Lives of Others (2014) and Anjum Hasan’s The Cosmopolitans (2015). In this essay, I am specifically concerned with how, in Amitav Ghosh’s critically-acclaimed Sea of Poppies (2008), the social realist novels of the Indian regional languages of the 1930s and 1940s, constitute a significant metafictional presence, demonstrating a central element of the aesthetic politics of the “realist impulse” of the Indian novels in the contemporary era. I argue such novels form a significant element of Ghosh’s metafictional archives precisely because they enable him to grapple with certain contradictions of world-historical dimensions. Such contradictions necessarily involve a deeper look into the complex lived and structural histories of capitalism’s emergence and development in the sub-continent. But, they also constitute the possibility of resistances that the violences of capital necessarily engender, and the challenges of narrativizing the interlocked materialities of capital’s violences and anti-capitalist resistances in and through novelistic forms.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Amitav Ghosh | Capitalism | Indentured Labor | Realism | Postcolonialism
Subjects: Social Sciences and humanities > Arts and Humanities > Arts and Humanities (General)
JGU School/Centre: Jindal School of Liberal Arts & Humanities
Depositing User: Amees Mohammad
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2023 06:11
Last Modified: 06 Jul 2023 06:11


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