This book offers a culturally-specific reading of Anita Desai’s In Custody informed by indigenous practices and beliefs, which enables global audiences to access contemporary Indian writing in English. It shows that certain constants in multiple belief-systems also allow points of entry, particularly in light of the internationalization of literatures in the post-colonial period. The author argues that Desai’s novel configures the writer’s view of and engagement with global society. It exemplifies transnational writings rooted in different canons which have always migrated, mixed, and mutated.
Marta Dvorák investigates the intertextual dialogue programmed into Desai’s novel, which is part of the intercultural practices grounded in both relativism and universalism (Homi Bhabha). She shows how literature encodes ideologies, and how the ideologies are presented through the cultural filter of the author’s discourse conditioning readerly responses. Her study engages with the hybridized narrative traditions of English-language Indian writing, showing how narratives circulate from one culture to another, displacing the migrant symbols and myths through which our global society manufactures meaning.
PART ONE. — DISPLACEMENT, CREOLIZATION, AND TARGETED AUDIENCE
I. Global reader empowerment and author/ization
1 – Encoding and decoding : inherited knowledges and naturalized axiologies
2 – Authenticity and legitimation
II. The decline and fall of empires : the politics of language
1 – Mythical and literary paradigms : a stereoscopic representation
2 – The 'emergence of the interstices'
III. Literary carnival : collocating within culture-specific and cross-cultural frameworks
1 – Carnivalesque double-voicing
2 – The centripetal and the centrifugal
PART TWO. — PURITY AND POLLUTION
I. Myth and food, a window on cosmology
1 – Identity-constructing configurations
2 – Paradigms of transgression
II. The poetics and politics of scatology, saturation, and reception
1 – The grotesque body of carnival
2 – From death to diarrhoea
III. From carnivore to cannibal
1 – Conflating diners and dinners
2 – Staging paradigms of predation
PART THREE. — REALISM, ROMANCE, AND SATIRE
I. Transmogrification, transtextuality, and transculturalism
1 – The engine of allegory
2 – Clowning and genre
3 – In/validating tragedy
4 – Menippea
II. Figure and memory
1 – In my beginning is my end. In succession, Houses rise and fall, crumble, are extended
2 – The idyllic and the demonic
III. Mimicry and mélange
1 – Refiguring, configuring and reconfiguring
2 – Parodia
3 – Art as phenomenon
Refracting the meanings stories make and unmake
Autour de l'auteur
Marta Dvorák is professor of postcolonial literatures at the Sorbonne Nouvelle (Paris III).
She has published books on Nancy Huston, Carol Shields, and Ernest Buckler, and her most recent book, Tropes and Territories : Short Fiction, Postcolonial Readings, Canadian Writings in Context (co-ed. W.H. New, McGill-Queen's UP, 2007), engages with writing and reading practices across cultural divides as well as the interconnections between socio-political issues and strategies of style.