This book offers intimate readings of a diverse range of global autobiographical literature with an emphasis on the (re)presentation of the physical body. The twelve texts discussed here include philosophical autobiography (Nietzsche), autobiographies of self-experimentation (Gandhi, Mishima, Warhol), literary autobiography (Hemingway, Das) as well as other genres of autobiography, including the graphic novel (Spiegelman, Satrapi), as also documentations of tragedy and injustice and subsequent spiritual overcoming (Ambedkar, Pawar, Angelou, Wiesel).
In exploring different literary forms and orientations of the autobiographies, the work remains constantly attuned to the physical body, a focus generally absent from literary criticism and philosophy or study of leading historical personages, with the exception of patches within phenomenological philosophy and feminism. The book delves into how the authors treated here deal with the flesh through their autobiographical writing and in what way they embody the essential relationship between flesh, spirit and word. It analyses some seminal texts such as Ecce Homo, The Story of My Experiments with Truth, Waiting for a Visa, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, A Moveable Feast, Night, Baluta, My Story, Sun and Steel, The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, MAUS and Persepolis.
Lucid, bold and authoritative, this book will be of great interest to scholars and researchers of philosophy, literature, gender studies, political philosophy, media and popular culture, social exclusion, and race and discrimination studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. The Crucified: Friedrich Nietzsche's Ecce Homo 2. The Mahatma: M.K. Gandhi's The Story of My Experiments with Truth 3. The Untouchable: B.R. Ambedkar’s Waiting for a Visa 4. The Nigger: Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings 5. The Boxer: Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast 6. The Survivor: Elie Wiesel's Night 7. The Dalit: Daya Pawar's Baluta 8. The Poet: Kamala Das' My Story 9. The Samurai: Yukio Mishima's Sun and Steel 10. The Fake: Andy Warhol's The Philosophy of Andy Warhol 11. The Mouse: Art Spiegelman's MAUS 12. The Daughter: Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. Epilogue.
Aakash Singh Rathore is International Fellow of the Centre for Ethics and Global Politics-LUISS, Rome, Italy; Director of the International Research Network for Religion and Democracy (www.irnrd.org); and the Executive Editor of the journal Plurilogue. He has taught at Jawaharlal Nehru University and other universities including Delhi, Toronto, Berlin, Rutgers and Pennsylvania. He is also currently Chief Editor, B. R. Ambedkar: The Quest for Justice (5 volumes).
He has authored and co-edited several books including Hegel's India (2017), Plato's Labyrinth: Sophistries, Lies and Conspiracies in Socratic Dialogues (2017), Indian Political Theory: Laying the Groundwork for Svaraj (2017), Rethinking Indian Jurisprudence: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Law (2018), B.R. Ambedkar’s The Buddha and His Dhamma: A Critical Edition (2010), Indian Political Thought: A Reader (2010), Wronging Rights? Philosophical Challenges for Human Rights (2010), From Political Theory to Political Theology: Religious Challenges and the Prospects for Democracy (2010), Reading Hegel: The Introductions (2008), Discoursing the Postsecular: Essays on Habermas’ Postsecular Turn (2011), The Future of Political Theology: Religious & Theological Perspectives (2011), Global Justice: Critical Perspectives (2012), and The Complete Indian Wine Guide (2006). He is the Series Editor of ‘Ethics, Human Rights and Global Political Thought’ and ‘Religion and Democracy: Reconceptualizing Religion, Culture, and Politics in Global Context’. Among his forthcoming works are Mind and Muscle.
He has also finished four grueling Ironman Triathlons, known as the world’s most difficult one-day sporting event.
'Aakash Singh Rathore repeatedly evokes the fragile, niggling core of the body upon which rests many a lofty thought. Chapter after chapter, story after story, the author needles, unsettles, and satisfies the reader.'
Navtej Johar, somatic practitioner, scholar and urban activist based in India
'In this wide-ranging and engrossing study, Aakash Singh Rathore examines the way life-writing configures the flesh and transmutes the morphology of spirit. Rathore not only offers refreshing new readings of multicultural and multinational autobiographical texts, but also a new understanding of human subjectivity and "me-ness".'
Makarand Paranjape, Director, Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, India
'Through a first-person reading of diverse autobiographies, Rathore posits the genre’s inherent dependence on the potency of the flesh as the central means of experiencing life’s truths, reminiscent of Yogic-Tantric practices.'
Rashmi Poddar, Director, Jnanapravaha Mumbai, India