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Inventing India : a history of India in fiction


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Crane, Ralph J.,1957- 1989 , 'Inventing India : a history of India in fiction', PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The title, Inventing India: A History of India in Fiction, has been chosen to
suggest that whilst India may be found on any map, it has no single, 'true'
identity; further, the title suggests the importance of the strange marriage
between fiction and history, which leads to the invention of more than one
The study follows, chronologically, the history of India from the
Mutiny of 1857 to the Emergency of 1975, through the works of twentieth-century
novelists who have written about particular periods of Indian history
from within various periods of literary history. The earliest novel treated is
Rudyard Kipling's Kim (1901), the latest Salman Rushdie's Midnight's
Children (1981).
Although any such discussion must involve some consideration of the
theories of history and literature, I have minimized theoretical discussion in
order to concentrate on ideas of historicity revealed by the texts themselves.
The introductory chapter considers the unique place India has held in
the British imagination. It acknowledges that, as a genre, the historical novel
is as loose and baggy as Henry James's monsters of fiction; nevertheless it
discusses ways in which the notion of such a genre may prove useful
critically. This leads to a consideration of those novels which lie on the
periphery of the genre, yet still manifest a strong zeitgeist.
The seven central chapters each deal with a specific period of Indian
history. In some chapters the treatments of the same period of history by

British and Indian novelists are compared, and it is also shown that seminal
works like Rudyard Kipling's Kim and E.M. Forster's A Passage to India
have powerfully directed later novelists' perceptions of India.
In the chapters 'Bridges' and 'Swaraj,' the importance of Gandhi
invites analysis of how the lives of well-documented historical figures can
influence the blending of fact and fiction. Kushwant Singh's Mano Majra
and Chaman Nahal's Azadi form the basis of a discussion of Partition, whilst
Paul Scott's Staying On and Nayantara Sahgal's Rich Like Us focus the
issues which face the Anglo-Indian, Eurasian, and Indian communities after
A constant thread in the thesis is the exploration of the use of paintings
as iconography and allegory, used in the novels to reveal aspects of British-Indian
Throughout, the thesis works towards a demonstration of how the
invention of India has moved from the fringes of world literature written in
English, to hold a central place in the imagination of postmodemist writers.

Item Type: Thesis - PhD
Authors/Creators:Crane, Ralph J.,1957-
Keywords: India in literature, English fiction, Indic fiction
Copyright Holders: The Author
Copyright Information:

Copyright 1989 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright
owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We
would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s).

Additional Information:

Bibliography: p. 248-259. Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Tasmania, 1990

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