The Passage of Literature: Genealogies of Modernism in Conrad, Rhys, Pramoedya

Paperback | September 15, 2013

byChristopher Gogwilt

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Joseph Conrad, Jean Rhys, and Pramoedya Ananta Toer are writers renowned for crafting narratives of great technical skill that resonate with potent truths on the colonial condition. Yet given the generational and geographical boundaries that separated them, they are seldom considered inconjunction with one another. The Passage of Literature unites the three in a bracing comparative study that breaks away from traditional conceptions of modernism, going beyond temporal periodization and the entrenched Anglo-American framework that undergirds current scholarship.This study nimbly traces a trio of distinct yet interrelated modernist genealogies. English modernism as exemplified by Conrad's Malay trilogy is productively paired with the hallmark work of Indonesian modernism, Pramoedya's Buru quartet. The two novel sequences, penned years apart, narrateoverlapping histories of imperialism in the Dutch East Indies, and both make opera central for understanding the cultural dynamic of colonial power. Creole modernism - defined not only by the linguistic diversity of the Caribbean but also by an alternative vision of literary history - provides atransnational context for reading Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight and Wide Sargasso Sea, each novel mapped in relation to the colonial English and postcolonial Indonesian coordinates of Conrad's The Shadow-Line and Pramoedya's This Earth of Mankind. All three modernisms - English, Creole, andIndonesian - converge in a discussion of the Indonesian figure of the nyai, a concubine or house servant, who represents the traumatic core of transnational modernism. Throughout the study, Pramoedya's extraordinary effort to reconstruct the lost record of Indonesia's emergence as a nation providesa model for reading each fragmentary passage of literature as part of an ongoing process of decolonizing tradition.Drawing on translated and un-translated works of fiction and nonfiction, GoGwilt effectively reexamines the roots of Anglophone modernist studies, thereby laying out the imperatives of a new postcolonial philology even as he resituates European modernism within the literary, linguistic, andhistorical context of decolonization.

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Joseph Conrad, Jean Rhys, and Pramoedya Ananta Toer are writers renowned for crafting narratives of great technical skill that resonate with potent truths on the colonial condition. Yet given the generational and geographical boundaries that separated them, they are seldom considered inconjunction with one another. The Passage of Liter...

Christopher GoGwilt is Professor of English at Fordham University. His previous books are The Fiction of Geopolitics: Afterimages of Culture from Wilkie Collins to Alfred Hitchcock (Stanford, 2000), and The Invention of the West: Joseph Conrad and the Double-Mapping of Europe and Empire (Stanford, 1995).
Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:September 15, 2013Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199330131

ISBN - 13:9780199330133

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. The Linguistic-Literary Coordinates of English, Creole, and Indonesian ModernismPart I: English Modernism2. Opera, Modernism, and Modernity: Reading Counterpoint in Conrad's Malay Trilogy and Pramoedya's Buru Tetralogy3. The Repetitive Formation of English Modernism: Jean Rhys, Ford Madox Ford, and the Memory of Joseph ConradPart II: Creole Modernism4. Jean Rhys's Francophone English and the Creole "impasse" of Modernity5. Creole Legacies in Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea and Pramoedya's This Earth of MankindPart III: Indonesian Modernism6. The Vanishing Genre of the Nyai Narrative: Reading Genealogies of English and Indonesian Modernism7. Decolonizing Tradition: Pramoedya's Indonesian ModernismConclusion8. Postcolonial Philology and the Passage of LiteratureBibliography