The Contemporary Novel and the City: Re-Conceiving National and Narrative Form (BOK)
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Referring to a period - the twentieth century - of unprecedented urban growth, culminating in a 'global village' that has taken a decidedly urban turn, this book argues for and establishes the deeply symbiotic relationship between the literary radicalism of Joyce and Rushdie and the fact that they write about cities. Joyce's literary influence on Rushdie is well established. The strength of this project, however, is to put into conversation two writers from colonial backgrounds, both in self-imposed 'exile' from the cities of their birth but compulsively writing about them. Enabled in the first instance by the formative influence of Joyce on Rushdie, this comparative framework facilitates a deeper understanding of the continuities as well as contrasts between a fringe-First world colonial city and its Third world postcolonial counterpart at the two ends of the twentieth century. The analysis undertakes close textual reading in relation to the theoretical co-ordinates of postcolonial and urban studies in order to draw out the modes in which the city offers a point of entry into a dynamic and novel politics of possibility, and the extent to which it does so. Shot through with the multiplicities of class, race, religion, and language as it is, the city emerges in this discussion as the crucial and inevitable, albeit conflicted and incongruous, locus for a postcolonial praxis. The book also draws upon a range of fictional and theoretical secondary sources from authors including T.S. Eliot, Walter Benjamin, Viriginia Woolf, Charles Baudelaire and Anita Desai, amongst others.