A POSTCOLONIAL CRITIQUE OFAMITAV GHOSH S THE SHADOW LINES The term post colonial literature is to date the most

convenient way of embracing the powerful and diverse body of literary responses to the challenges presented by decolonization and the transitions and independence to post-independenced in a wide variety of political and cultural contexts. Postcolonial theory looks at colonisalism s strategies of negative representation of the native; the epistemological underpinnings of colonial projects; the writing of colonial histories; mariginalisation and dehumanization of the native; the rise of nationalist and/or nativist discourse; the psychological effects of colonisalism on both the colonizer and the colonized; the role of apparatuses like education, English studies, hiustoriography, art and architecture in execution of the colonial project and the transactive or negotiatory structure of post colonisalism. Postcolonial theory may be said to have originated in the mid-twentieth century texts of Frantz Fanon, AimeCesaire and Albert Memmi. Mannoni s work on the Psychology of Colonisalim (1956) was a central text in this area. However, it is with Edward Said s phenomenally influential Orientalism (1978) and Bill Ashcroft et al The Empire Writes Back (1989) that postcolonial studies became an institional enterprise. Postcolonisalism/Postcolonaial theory after Edward Said analyses the Eupopean construction of the East/Orient as a discursive field c alled Orientalism . The European colonial power creates the orient as an epistemological category before dominating it militarily, politically and economically. That is, Europe first produces a category designated as the other or the orient through certain specific practices of knowledge, acquisition, and formation: philological, literary, ethnographical, geographical and so on. This knowledge and representation relies upon a series of binary oppositions, all of which treat the native as the negative/dark oppositve of Europe: civilized/barbaric, white/black, mature/immature, stron/weak, masculine/effeminate, rational/emotional, and progressive/primitive. Here the first term signifies the European, and the second (which stands for all the qualities rejected as inferior/or even bad by the west) always applies to the native. This knowledge now treated an authentic survey/history/study is then used for material practices such as racial discrimination, political control, and economic exploitation. Said s argument thus adds a whole new dimension to the aphorism that knowledge is power here power is colonization. The representation of the native in Europe was hardly innocent or true but essentially an exercise that preceeded more concrete alterations in the material reality of the native; a voice that represented the native in Europe was of the one who ruled the native. This link between representation, epistemology and political practices becomes the subject of anayalysis in postcolonial studies. Thus the conceptual foundations of Western imperialism are unraveled for their complicity in actual political and economic practices. Postcolonial studies, especially in the 1980s and 90s, questioned the nationalism resistance to colonialism. They argued that the nationalist resistance and stress on cultural independence also relied on categories that were themselves European: specially the idea of moderanisation, development, the nationstate and democracy. Later developments added issues of ethinicity, development, gender and race as categories for analysis. Thus the postcolonial arguments began to focus on how the nationlist project in colonial times and the decolonized nationstate replicated/extended certain fundamental oppressive structures in class/gender and (in case of India) castes. The decolonized nation, argue the postcolonials, under the guise of homogenizing, national stability, federalism, perpetuate oppression of the marginalized-the women, the lower classes/castes. This, they argue, is essentially the same technic as that in colonialism. Under the rubric of postcolonial studies, there is an ongoing attempt to retrieve histories that have been silenced/erased by both colonial and nationalist

powers. This is the Subaltern studies project in India, which seeks to write the hisoty of the upper classes/castes, a history from below . HomiBhabha suggests that memory is the bridge between colonialism and cultural identity. Remembering is actually re-membering, a putting together of the dismembered past to make sense of the trauma of the present .of the history of race and racism . Postcolonialismseesk to understand how oppression, resistence and adaption have occurred during the colonial rule. This means that Postcolonialism analyses specific strategies of power, domination, hegemony and opperession utilized by the colonizer in the colony. Fanon writes, collective autodestruction in a very concrete form is one way in which the native s muscular tension is set free . It is a reactionary psychoses where the mental pathology is the direct result of an oppression. Postcolonialism also seeks to understand how the colonized reacted to, adapted and/or resisted this structure of domination. Thus, nativist/nationalist resistance and/or complicity, collaboration (unconscious or conscious) with colonizers, effects of colonialism (dehumanized westernized schizophrenic, hybridized, ultra nationalist identities) are analysed. This discussion on post colonialism with reference to The Shadow Lines adopts tools from a wide range of disciplines such as Poststructuralism, postmodernism, postimperialism, historiography, Foucaul such as Postrcutrualism, postmodernism, postimperialism, historiography, Foucaulsian discourse analysis. It also includes the issues discussed by the pricniapl thinkers in the area. The theorists referred here included Frantz Fanon, Edward Said and HomiBhabha. Frantz Fanon s discussion on violence amongst the colonized people. Edward Said s Orientalism and HomiBhabha s views on the aspect of memory will serve as points of focus during the course here. It will also include how racial and class differences intersect with colonial ideologies and postcolonial discourses. The Shadow Lines covers the period from 1939 to 1964. While Tridib, the protagonist is born in 1931, the narrator is born in 1952. But the actual events of the novel start in 1939, while their narration made aboaut 1979 when the narrator, now a grown up man of about 27 years, recalls the memories of earlier times encapsulated in his childhood. The narrator recasllls all the incidents and earlier events of his childhood which include the memories of others his childhood imaginations, hearsay and speculation guesswork. The labyrinthine cobweb of this memory novel is woven slowly by him, moving between events and characters, reality and imagination linear narration and reflection, amusement and puzzle suspense, terror and shock all culminating in the final stage of calm of mind, all passion spent. AparnaDharwadker and VinayDharwadker say that Ghosh displays, in other words the same cosmopolitanism in treating postimperial England and Postcolonial India that characterizes the current generation Indian English. AmitavGhosh, fully Indian by birth and upbringing, creats such singular variations in his novels The Circle of Reason 1986) and The Shadow Lines (1988) on the theme of the East-West encounter as to transform it altogether. The England of The Shadow Lines does not arouse fantasies of domination and revenge in the mind of the narrator; it is simply the partial setting for his own experiences of low, discover and loss. Sex between the characters is also not a metaphor for empire. The Shadow Lines portrays the friendship (and antipathy) between various branches of an upper class Bengali family and an English family over three generations. The narrator s family is settled in Calcutta where his grandmother is a headmistress in a school. On the other hand the family of Mayadebi, with the exception of Tridib, goes around the world. Tridib lives in his ancestral house in BallyganjPalance, who is often seen at a loose end at Gol Park, in an adda, with his acquaintances. The friendship between the Indian families and the English family began when Lionel Tresawen was in India. Lionel Tresawsen was a globetrotter, a prolific inventor, highly ambitious, and quick-witted. Later on in India, he developed an interest in spiritualism and begin to attend the meeting of the Theosophical Society in Calcutta,

where he met and earned the trust and friendship of a number of leading nationalists .He had also begun to attend séances conducted by a Russian medium, a large lady ..It was at hose séances that he met Tridib s grandfather, Mr. Justice ChandrashekherDuttaChaudhuri .their friendship was sealed across innumerable planchettes tables (p.52). Their heirs strengthen this friendship between Tresawsean and Dutta-Chaudhuri. In this connection, 1939 is significant because the story in the novel starts at this period of time. It is also the Second World War period. This is the period when the British imperialism was as its zenith in India and the one which also accelerated the fall of the British Empire. The UK challenged the military might of Hitler. The British declaration of war automatically brought in India and the colonies, as it had done in 1914. The membership of the theosophical Society brings Tresawsen and DuttaChaudhuri in each other s intimacy. There could be no better place for an Indian than the society to devlop friendship with an Englishman, a colonized with a coloniser. The Indian spirituality as opposed to British materialism places Dutta-Chaudhuri and Tresawsen on surer footing. It is the blooming of friendship between their successors, which forms the backbone of the narrative of The Shadow Lines. Mrs. Price, the daughter of Treasawsen, and Mayadebi and her Elder sister continue to maintain this friendly relation, irrespective of the fact that the year 1939 was the year of Indian slavery. But the spirituality of the theosophical society dissolves any traces of antipathy between the colonizer and the colonized. AmitavGhosh thus prepares the reader for a friendly English woman and her family. AmitavGhosh portrays the affable, friendly, fine, English men and women in the Shadow Lines from 1939 to 1979. Mrs.Mayadebi finds a kind of exhilaration in the air in 1939. But after a few pages following this exhilaration , Ghosh shows a true English picture, a white man s disdain for a brown one, Ila walking alone because Nick Price was ashamed to be seen by his friends, walking home with an Indian (p. 76). His sister May Price volunteers an excuse, He was very young and at that age children want every one to be alike. (p. 76). Edward Said says that Western domination of the non-western world is not some arbitrary phenomenon but a conscious and purposive process governed by the will and intension of individuals as well as by institutional imperatives. The devotion of Treasawsen to Indian spirituality is a recurrent image in the Western discourse or West s inferior other , for the West always vaunts the East for its spirituality, longevity and stability. In describing these qualities as overvalued , Said suggests that the vision inscribed in such motifs is as distroed as its negative counterpart and similar produced, above all else, by Western projections on to the other. Ila s upbringing and education in England is a matter of contradictory opinions. Her father was with the UN and her education is from a Univeristy in the North of England. Her mother was called Queeen Victoria, who loved to lord over her household servants, like White Memsahibs of the colonial India. She was the daughter of a man who had left his village in Barisal in rags and gone on to earn a Knighthood in the old Indian Civil Services (p. 25). The While Memsahibs in the colonial India, had their life of idleness and frivolity, their scandal-mongering and flirtations, their insensitivity and their rudeness towards Indians. The Subaltern school, led by RanajitGuha, speaks of this upper-middle class and its role in shaping India s historiography. He says, the historiography of Indian nationalism has for a long time been dominated by elitism-colongial elitism and bourgeois natinalist elitism . A.N. Kaul says it is true that for the privileged Dutta-Chaudhuri s nationalist has ceased to have any significance and crossing national frontiers means nothing more to them than a smooth transition through customs and immigration at identical airports . For Ila, India is not a home. She flees Calcutta, feeling stifled by its social environment and seeks a home in London. She marries an Englishman, buys a house, finds a job, and tries to settle down. Ila lives in London because she wanted to be free . The postcolonial India has seen thousancs of men and women migrating to England and the US to be free from

social conventions and mores, all elites, in search of power and position even marrying foreigners. For them nationalism is a constraint a Hindu imposition, a more imaginary construct, which must be resisted as forcefully as possible. The narrator s grandmother on the other hand is fiercely antiimperialist. She says about Britain that war is their religion (p. 78). This is militant nationalism, as opposed to non-violent nationalism of Gandhiji, which ignited the mind, heart and imagination of Bengalis. SuvirKaul comments to such militant nationalism, and to a nation whose borders are confirmed in war, she exhorts her grandson. Theses, after all, are the values she leans from her youthful desire to be free, where freedom was forged in the crucible of often violent anti-colonial struggle, and once achieved, maintained by extending the same antagonistic logic to the constructions of the nation-state. The failure of Tha mma s faith in the postcolonial India is not only her tragedy but also the tragedy of an entire class. Fanon, the great Aftican postcolonial theorist recommends violence as a grim reality. He sees it as creating a social melting-pot in which old shibboleths dissolve and new assumptions take their place, violence alone, violence committeed by the people, violence organized and educated by its leaders, makes it possible for the masses to understand social truth and gives the key to them, Fanon goes on to reiterate that violence properly understood and directed can be positive and purifying, At the level of individuals, violence is a cleansing force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from his despair and inaction; it makes him fearless and restore his self-respect. Seen in this perspectives, the Grandmother is not only relevant to this novel, but is also a postcolonial two-dimentional character. But as already stated, India could not only fully rupture its imperialistic absoption and bond with England. Once again Fanon hits out at both-the excolonalist and the subaltern elites in these words. The third world often gives the impression that it rejoinces in sensationand that it must have its weekly dose of crises. These men at the head of empty countries, who talk too loud, are most irritating. You d like to shut them up. But, on the contrary, they are invited to dinner. In fact we quarrel over who will have them, Fanon here gives a picture of apostimperialist ruler. AmitaveGhosh also shows the narrator, Tridib and May Price as facsimiles of the postimperialist features in this novel. The narrator in particular is unable to digest the militant nationalism of his Grandmother. Both Tridib and the Narrator are Indian but they love women, living and located at the centre of colonialism. The story of The Shadow Line, to cut it short, is the story of two upper class families, one in London and other in India, Prices in London are called the post-imperialist breed. Ila conforms to the English ways. Dutta-Chaudhuris are anglophiles. The Grandmother could not confirm to the English ways and, therefore, condemned Ila s love for freedom and called her a whore. Ghoseh tells us that postimperialist English has shed its material superiority, naughtiness, snobbishness and egotism. But his conclusion is tough to be digested. Ghosh would like us to believe that love of the narraot with May Price and the marriage of Ila with Nick Price lift the shadow lines between East and West. But is it convincing? Edward Said has written about the ending of E.M.Forster s A Passage To India as a paralyzed gesture of aestheticized powerlessness in which Forster notes and confirms the history behind a political conflict between Dr. Aziz and FieldingBritain s subjugation of India and yet can neither recommend decolonization nor continued colonization. AmitavGhosh has had neither experienced a prison term in postcolonial India for attempting to decolonize the mind like NgugiWaThiong s nor Fanonian distaste for imperiealism. Thiong s had to suffer a prison term in a free country for propounding decolonization of the mind of African writers, for writing Aftican fiction in native language. One can say that a postcolonial writer s agency as reflected in AmitavGhosh s The Shadow Lines is a suspect as the writer as an intellectual is a missing parson, who is missing precisely because his subjectivity and agency have been

annihilated by the colonial past and the postcolonial present, which is a variation of new imperialism, on the subcontinent. AmitavGhosh fails on both counts. His attempt at synthesizing the West and the East, through marriage, like Forster, fails. At best The Shadow Lines is a product of a mind and a birth, which is neither wholly western nor wholly eastern. It is an attempt to IndianizeEsternisation by yoking postimperialism of Prices with postcolonism of Duttas, by violence together. It is a case of overlapping the colonized and the colonial mind-sets and intertwined languages of Orientalism and Occidentalism. THE SHADOW LINES-AMITAV GHOSH Though the book could be seen as a bildungsroman of the narrator, it is more like his personal odyssey. Its appeal lies in the simplicity of the manner in which mellifluous Ghosh writes. The language is rich and invigorating as it delves into the soul of humanity. The beauty of the novel lies in the fact that have been the simplest of sentences are profoundly meaningful, which strike the readers without overwhelming them. While, at times it humours you with its comical mundane details, at others, it will make you cringe at the stark realism it presents. The best part about the novel is that it is neither judgemental nor didactic and lets the readers draw their own conclusions. Apart from the raising questions about nation states, AmitavGhosh also explores how communal riots flare up with conflicting identities and what all is destroyed in the mad violence. The violence though, is never explicitly described, yet its impact and its futility is fully felt. Ghosh paints a meticulous picture of common middle class life in India. Whether it be in the model notions about success in examinations or the general perceptions of poverty, the hatred towards the other ( Pakistanis or Chinese in this case) or the strain of inter- religious friendships in times of communal riots, it s the nuances that make the novel all the more interesting and totally spellbinding. The novel was published first in 1988, four years after the riots that followed Indira Gandhi s assasination, the horror of which Ghosh had witnessed first-hand. One feels his urgency in the book to communicate the illogic behind such incidents.It won SahityaAkademi Award and the AnandaPuraskar. The novel is divided into two sections- Going Away and Coming Home which could be interpreted in many ways. The title of the novel is most apt. The border lines are present only in the shadow they cast and very few see the actual light of reason beyond them, that nations are nothing but invented countries . With an impeccable understanding of the spider web of believes that are passed from one generation to the next and the poignant critique of communal riots, the novel is a must read. The matters with which deals remain forever relevant, especially for the people of the subcontinent and even for the world, for somewhere a war is always being fought over borders and boundaries, which are nothing but mere shadow lines.

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