Academic journal article International Research Journal of Arts and Humanities

The Presentation of the Colonized Land In: A Passage to India and Twilight in Delhi

Academic journal article International Research Journal of Arts and Humanities

The Presentation of the Colonized Land In: A Passage to India and Twilight in Delhi

Article excerpt

India which has been referred as a commodity in English Literature of 18lh and 19lh century produced in England and America. For instance, "Indian handkerchief' is mentioned in Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, Mrs. Gaskell's North and South (1855) refers to "Indian shawl", William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair includes Indian "Cashmere scarves, turquoise bracelets, ivory chess-men and hot pickles". Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson mentions "Indian knife". Christopher Marlowe in his play Doctor Faustus (1588*) mentioned:

"I'll have them fly to India for gold

Ransack the ocean for orient pearl!"

(Marlowe, 2004:11, Doctor Faustus, Act I, scene I)

Men from the farthest equinoctial line

Have swarmed in troops into the Eastern India,

Lading their ships with gold and precious stone,

And made their sports from all our provinces.

(Marlowe, 2002: 6, Tamhurlaine, Act I, scene I)

Shakespeare showed the Field of the Cloth of Gold as under:

All clinquant, all in gold, like heathen gods,

Shone down the English; and tomorrow they

Made Britain India; every man that stood

Show'd like a mine.

(Shakespeare, 1962:5, Hemy VIII, Act I, scene I)

In Anglo-Indian fiction, India was the land of sadhus, snakes, superstitious masses devoid of reason and full of myth and mysteries. The natives and some foreign writers in the 20th century tried to bring the real India to light which had remained in backdrop or mere commodity for centuries.

The Real versus Imaginary

Ahmed Ali's novel Twilight in Delhi opens in the city of Delhi. The history of habitation in Delhi traces back to 6 century BC. It had been site of Pandavas Empire's capital during the epoch of Mahabharata. With the rise of Delhi Sultanates, it emerged as centre of culture, politics and trade route between Gangetic plains and Northwest India. In the last two decades of the twelfth century, Muhammad of Ghor invaded India after conquering Ghazana, Lahore, Multan, Sindh and Delhi. One of his generals, Qutb-ud-din Aybak, dubbed himself as the Sultan of Delhi. The Slave Dynasty ruled India from 1206 to 1290, the Khalji Dynasty from 1290 to 1320, the Tughlaq Dynasty from 1320 to 1413, the Sayyid Dynasty from 1414 to 1451 and Lodi Dynasty from 1451 to 1526. There had been bloody wars among kings; power in Delhi was obtained with the bloodshed and murder as out of 35 kings 19 were slain. In 1648, during the reign of Shah Jahan, the capital of the Mughal Empire was shifted from Agra to Delhi. The British took hold of the city in 1803 and George V declared it as the capital of the provinces, states and areas under the control of the British Government. In 1920, a new capital city, New Delhi was constructed in the south of the old city.

Conversely, E. M. Forster's novel, A Passage to India opens in an imaginary city of Chandrapore and other places mentioned are also fictional. Stallybrass (1985:10) maintains, "Forster travelled far and wide; that the places he visited included Bankipore (the model for Chandrapore), the Barabar Caves (which suggested the Marabar) near Gaya ... Dewas State Senior and Chhatarpur (joint models for Mau)"; therefore, Foster is at liberty to visualize and make variations or changes while presenting the places, because they are not real therefore free from the strict observance of historical, cultural, and archeological facts. Suleri criticizes this aspect of presentation that perhaps Forster does not incline to glorify the "exotic" land and its geography and archeology; therefore, he begins the novel with a town without description; hence, Forster uses a designing and "anti-exotic" example not to present stereotypical colonialist but an imaginary town with a specific terror and hatred (Suleri, 1992:144).

The Grandeur of the Past and the Disintegration of the Present

Ahmed Ali's opening of the novel with historical outlook of Delhi negates the imperial narrative that the Indian subcontinent had always remained dark, ahistorical, uncouth and devoid of culture. …

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