Handbook of Twentieth-Century Literatures of India

Handbook of Twentieth-Century Literatures of India

Handbook of Twentieth-Century Literatures of India

Handbook of Twentieth-Century Literatures of India

Synopsis

India has a rich literary assemblage produced by its many different regional traditions, religious faiths, ethnic subcultures and linguistic groups. The published literature of the 20th century is a particularly interesting subject and is the focus of this book, as it represents the provocative conjuncture of the transitions of Indian modernity. This reference book surveys the major regional literatures of contemporary India in the context of the country's diversity and heterogeneity. Chapters are devoted to particular regions, and the arrangement of the work invites comparisons of literary traditions. Chapters provide extensive bibliographies of primary works, thus documenting the creative achievement of numerous contemporary Indian authors. Some chapters cite secondary works as well, and the volume concludes with a list of general works providing further information.

Excerpt

The chapters in this reference book have the general aim of introducing the reader to post-1900 literary works from India. This is done through surveying each of the major literatures from the many regions. The survey chapters and their attached bibliographies are intended to serve as introductory tools to scholars seeking an overview of broad trends in the literatures. The book's value is its focus on the regional literatures, that is, literatures written in languages other than English. "Postcolonial" works from India in English are generally well known in the metropolis, but little is known to the general reader of writing in Malayalam or Telugu, Panjabi or Gujarati.

Very recently, certain sectors of regional Indian literatures have begun to be constituted as fields of progressive critical interest in the metropolis. Gayatri Spivak's translations of Bengali author Mahasweta Devi work, Imaginary Maps (1995), Kalpana Bardhan Of Women, Outcasts, Peasants and Rebels (1990), and Susie Tharu and K. Lalitha Women Writing in India (1992) are recent examples. On the critical side, Aijaz Ahmad essay in his book In Theory (1992) outlines the conceptual problems associated with the study of regional literatures in current metropolitan and Indian academic contexts.

This book hopes to initiate the discussion of more of the regional literatures under a common platform. Often, literatures are known metonymically by famous works of antiquity (such as Silappatikaram in Tamil). The import of Tharu and Lalitha's "gynocritical" work, for instance, cannot be fully grasped unless one can place it within the larger archive of works by men and women, as also the "singularity" of Mahasweta Devi's work within the Bengali tradition (Spivak 1996, 162). Given India's enormous linguistic diversity, it is virtually impossible to ensure that all literary traditions are included. This volume, therefore, does not claim to be comprehensive, but it does cover nearly all major literary . . .

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