Colonial paranoia and cultural narcissism as a writing trope

— Khagendra Acharya

Associated with the issue of ‘identity reconstruction’, ‘going back to root’ is one of the most common themes in postcolonial writings. Many writers from post-British Empire locations have produced works of great fame on the theme. The discourse on ‘identity’ in non-colonized locations like Nepal, however, is either overtly political, or kept aside under the aegis of ‘independent status of the nation’. Even the fiction writers, who are believed to present “three-dimensionality, which is linked with the multi-languaged consciousness” (Bakhtin 842), have pushed the potential of postcolonial experience to insignificance.

In this paper I argue that one of the dominant modes within going back to root – dialectics of colonial paranoia and cultural narcissism – deployed in many novels like R. K. Narayan’s The English Teacher, Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchables, among others is an appropriate trope for Nepali writers, both to present social reality and to help marginalized groups reconstruct their identity. To demonstrate the potential, I shall first analyze the trope’s employment by R. K. Narayan in The English Teacher and then discuss identical utilization by Parashu Pradhan in The Telegram on the Table. Lastly, I shall explore some other circumstances that demand the appropriateness of the trope.

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2 comments

  • Bal Krishna Sharma

    Thank you Khagendraji for posting such a great post. Your review of a literary character in the novel and its implication for our Nepalese English writers who write on real social problems helped me both to understand as well as to reflect on my previous readings by these writers. The discourses of colonization, hegemony and domination are very tricky, and I liked your citation of Chaudhari and Chaudhari’s source regarding the domination within our own society by our own members though Nepal was never colonized in the past.

  • swati

    The article is great and quite informative. The novels are compared wonderfully and the characters are analysed in great manner from the psychological point of view. I really liked the way the article throws light on an area, the writers should focus on. I was not aware of any Nepali literature. I really Thank You for giving me an opportunity to know about one of the fictions. That inspired me to read Nepali literature. The discourse of colonization, Nepali society and internal colonization is quite effective. Hope to read such more articles as they are always helpful for students like me. Thank You Sir!

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