The Contemporary Novel and the City: Re-conceiving National by Stuti Khanna (auth.)

By Stuti Khanna (auth.)

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Additional info for The Contemporary Novel and the City: Re-conceiving National and Narrative Form

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But it has disappeared, in its place is Dadasaheb Bhadkhamkar Marg. My school was on Carnac Road. Now suddenly its on Lokmanya Tilak Marg. I live at Sleater Road. Soon that will also disappear. My whole life I have come to work at Flora Fountain. And one fine day the name changes. So what happens to the life I have lived? […] Tell me what happens to my life. Rubbed out, just like that? 47 Cities of Conflict 35 Dinshawji’s question rails against a parochialism that can be just as tyrannical as a colonial regime, challenging not only the misguided and violent attempts to erase history in the quest for ‘purity’, but also the imposition of a singular meaning upon an urban fabric that, by definition, resists any kind of totalization.

Simply put, the chapter aims to place these authors within their specific geographical and cultural-artistic contexts. Chapter 3, ‘City, Nation and the Politics of the Possible’, discusses the status of the colonial/postcolonial city within a nationalist rhetoric that emotionally 22 The Contemporary Novel and the City aligns itself with the obverse of everything the city stands for: homogeneity, tradition, the rural and the past. It examines the textual modes by which the narratives of Joyce and Rushdie throw in their lot with the city over and against (the nationalist version of) the nation, and the extent to which such championing enables newer kinds of affiliations and perspectives, both personal and political, that the blinkered rhetoric of mainstream nationalism seals off as possibilities.

7 Spread all over the city rather than confined to particular poor areas, these tenements contained a large proportion of the city’s population, and were unmistakable markers of the steady decline and impoverishment of the once-grand second city of the empire. It is worth noting how Little Chandler in Joyce’s short story, ‘A Little Cloud’, when walking through the city’s streets to keep his appointment with Gallaher, gives ‘no thought’ to what must have been a familiar sight, ‘a horde of grimy children’ who ‘stood or ran in the roadway or crawled up the steps before the gaping doors or squatted like mice upon the thresholds’.

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