Prose of the World: Modernism and the Banality of Empire

Paperback | May 19, 2015

bySaikat Majumdar

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Everyday life in the far outposts of empire can be static, empty of the excitement of progress. A pervading sense of banality and boredom are, therefore, common elements of the daily experience for people living on the colonial periphery. Saikat Majumdar suggests that this impoverished affective experience of colonial modernity significantly shapes the innovative aesthetics of modernist fiction.

Prose of the World explores the global life of this narrative aesthetic, from late-colonial modernism to the present day, focusing on a writer each from Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. Ranging from James Joyce's deflated epiphanies to Amit Chaudhuri's disavowal of the grand spectacle of postcolonial national allegories, Majumdar foregrounds the banal as a key instinct of modern and contemporary fiction-one that nevertheless remains submerged because of its antithetical relation to literature's intuitive function to engage or excite.

Majumdar asks us to rethink the assumption that banality merely indicates an aesthetic failure. If narrative is traditionally enabled by the tremor, velocity, and excitement of the event, the historical and affective lack implied by the banal produces a narrative force that is radically new precisely because it suspends the conventional impulses of narration.

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Everyday life in the far outposts of empire can be static, empty of the excitement of progress. A pervading sense of banality and boredom are, therefore, common elements of the daily experience for people living on the colonial periphery. Saikat Majumdar suggests that this impoverished affective experience of colonial modernity signif...

Saikat Majumdar is an assistant professor of English at Stanford University and the author of a novel, Silverfish.

other books by Saikat Majumdar

Silverfish
Silverfish

Kobo ebook|Dec 14 2007

$11.99

Format:PaperbackDimensions:248 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:May 19, 2015Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231156952

ISBN - 13:9780231156950

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Read an excerpt from the introduction "Poetics of the Prosaic"

Table of Contents

Introduction: Poetics of the Prosaic1. James Joyce and the Banality of Refusal2. Katherine Mansfield and the Fragility of Pakeha Boredom3. The Dailiness of Trauma and Liberation in Zoë Wicomb 4. Amit Chaudhuri and the Materiality of the MundaneEpilogue: The UneventfulAcknowledgmentsNotesBibliographyIndex

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