The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures

The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures

The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures

The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures

Synopsis

The experience of colonization and the challenges of a post-colonial world have produced an explosion of new writing in English. This diverse and powerful body of literature has established a specific practice of post-colonial writing in cultures as various as India, Australia, the West Indies and Canada, and has challenged both the traditional canon and dominant ideas of literature and culture. The Empire Writes Back was the first major theoretical account of a wide range of post-colonial texts and their relation to the larger issues of post-colonial culture, and remains one of the most significant works published in this field. The authors, three leading figures in post-colonial studies, open up debates about the interrelationships of post-colonial literatures, investigate the powerful forces acting on language in the post-colonial text, and show how these texts constitute a radical critique of Eurocentric notions of literature and language. This book is brilliant not only for its incisive analysis, but for its accessibility for readers new to the field. Now with an additional chapter and an updated bibliography, The Empire Writes Back is essential for contemporary post-colonial studies.

Excerpt

No doubt a third General Editor's Preface to New Accents seems hard to justify. What is there left to say? Twenty-five years ago, the series began with a very clear purpose. Its major concern was the newly perplexed world of academic literary studies, where hectic monsters called 'Theory', 'Linguistics' and 'Politics' ranged. In particular, it aimed itself at those undergraduates or beginning postgraduate students who were either learning to come to terms with the new developments or were being sternly warned against them.

New Accents deliberately took sides. Thus the first Preface spoke darkly, in 1977, of 'a time of rapid and radical social change', of the 'erosion of the assumptions and presuppositions' central to the study of literature. 'Modes and categories inherited from the past' it announced, 'no longer seem to fit the reality experienced by a new generation'. The aim of each volume would be to 'encourage rather than resist the process of change' by combining nuts-and-bolts exposition of new ideas with clear and detailed explanation of related conceptual developments. If mystification (or downright demonization) was the enemy, lucidity (with a nod to the compromises inevitably at stake there) became a friend. If a 'distinctive discourse of the future' beckoned, we wanted at least to be able to understand it.

With the apocalypse duly noted, the second Preface proceeded

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