1st Edition

The Politics of Modern Indian Language Literature Implicit and Symptomatic Readings

By MK Raghavendra Copyright 2024

    Indian literature is produced in a wealth of languages but there is an asymmetry in the exposure the writing gets, which owes partly to the politics of translation into English. This book represents the first comprehensive political scrutiny of the concerns and attitudes of Indian language literature after 1947 to cover such a wide range, including voices from the cultural margins of the nation like Kashmiri and Manipuri, that of women alongside those of minority and marginalised communities. In examining the politics of the writing especially in relation to concerns like nationhood, caste, tradition and modernity, postcoloniality, gender issues and religious conflict, the book goes beyond the declared ideology of each writer to get at covert significations pointing to widely shared but often unacknowledged biases. The book is deeply analytical but lucid and jargon-free and, to those unfamiliar with the writers, it introduces a new keenness into Indian literary criticism to make its objects exciting.

    Introduction: Reading modern Indian ‘bhasha’ literature; Part 1: The nation and its ethnicities; 1. Literature for Performance; 2. Constructing a Syncretic History; 3. The Meaning of life; 4. Failure and Middle-class life; 5. Essentializing the Marginalized; 6. The Private as Public; 7. The Polarization of Social Experience; Part 2: Modernity and its effects; 8. Breaking Taboos; 9. Modernity and Interiority;10 Unstable Hybrid; 11. Outward Profusion, Inner Silence; 12. Another Modernity; 13. Literary Modernism and the Community; 14. Living in the World; Part 3: Gender and the position of women; 15. Nation of Women; 16. Tradition, Privilege and Gender; 17. ‘Eternal’ Womanhood; Part 4: The experience of caste; 18. Literature and Testimony; 19. View from Under; 20. The Nostalgia of the Small Farmer; 21. Lost Authority, Soft Power; 22. The Myth of Varna; Part 5: Humanism and authorial discourse; 23. The Popular Writer and Literature; 24. Humanism without Politics; 25. A Tapestry called Humanity; Afterword: Patterns in Bhasha Writing


    MK Raghavendra is a cultural, literary and film critic and scholar with political discourse as the focus in his analyses. He won the National Award for Best Film critic and received a Homi Bhabha Fellowship to study narration in Indian popular cinema. He has published 11 books on cinema from international publishers and contributed essays to anthologies and journals. He has also authored a book on politics The Hindu Nation: A Reconciliation with Modernity and two books of literary criticism from Routledge. His writing has been translated into Polish and French and two books also into Russian.