Exploration of postmodernism attributes in selected novels of Amitav Ghosh

Exploration of postmodernism attributes in selected novels of Amitav Ghosh

Twentieth century literature is written in two broad categories: Modernism and the Postmodernism which are the part of socio-culture and development in history. It represents an identity of a human being. This idea was represented by different writers also but it is treated more systematically after the Civil Rights Movement in the USA. Due to employment, educational and public opportunities to find a position in the society while new authors are representing ethnic minority. Jewish and Black-American authors have achieved a great reputation in the literature of America. Later in British, Australian and Canadian literature similar advancement can be observed by this development. In literary theory and criticism, there was the emergence of feminist and post-colonial theories. English literature at the same time depicts awareness of the negative effects of industrialization and commercialization of public life. These authors have explained negative attitude to the Western civilization and have emphasized oriental vision and understanding of the world.
Indian English writing has gained its position by blending tradition and modernity in art. At the beginning the oral transmission of Indian literary works gained importance gradually. It has produced an outlook in the mind and heart of the lovers of art. The interest in literature innovates a new pattern of writing. Previous novels have intended India’s heritage, tradition, past culture and values. A great change can be remarked in the novels advertised after the First World War as they mark modernism. The novels published in the late 20th century after the Second World War is treated as postmodern novels. Salman Rushdie, Vikaram Seth, Shashi Tharoor, Upamanyu Chatterjee and Amitav Ghosh are making a new style in writing novels with post-modern attention and inspirations.
Amitav Ghosh is considered as one of the greatest writer among the postmodernists. He is extremely advanced by the political and cultural milieu of post independent India. He comments on the present scenario with the opportunity of visiting alien lands which is flitting through in his novels. We can observe some post modern elements like cultural fragmentation, colonial and neo-colonial power structures, cultural degeneration, the materialistic offshoots of modern civilization, dying of human relationships, blending of facts and fantasy, search for love and security, diasporas, etc. in his novels. There are major agitations in the works of Amitav Ghosh. The central traits of post-modernism are clearly present in the works of Amitav Ghosh. In accordance with postmodernists national boundaries are barrier to human communication. They think globally and believe nationalism gives space to wars. The works of Amitav Ghosh revolve around multiracial and multiethnic issues; as a wandering cosmopolitan he roves around and weaves his novels with his narrative beauty. In The ShadowLines, Amitav Ghosh makes the East and West meet on a pedestal of friendship especially through the characters like Tridib, May, Nice Prince etc. He stresses more on the globalization rather than nationalization
In The Glass Palace, the story of half-bred Rajkumar centers around Burma, Mynamar and India. He visits many places and achieved more achievements. He achieved a lot of knowledge from the different nations. Everything in his life becomes complicated at that time, when his loving son is killed by Japanese bomb blast. The logic for this event because fighting for national boundaries. In additional he is recognized as a master of a new genre i.e. ‘magical realism’. It refers to a style of expression that presents a realistic world that has elements of the magical or fantastical. It was largely expanded by Salman Rushdie in India and by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in South America. Ghosh is identified as “belonging to this international school of writing which successfully deals with the post-colonial ethos of the modern world without sacrificing the ancient histories of separate lands.” Like Salman Rushdie, Amitav Ghosh clearly mixes fact and fiction with magical realism. He reconceptualises society and history. He has collected material scientifically and organized it systematically and creativily in the formation of fictionalized history.
Amitav Ghosh creates his magical realistic plot with postmodern themes perfectly. Self-reflexity and confessionality characterize fictional works of Amitav Ghosh. Displacement is a central theme in his fictional writings of Amitav Gose; departure and arrivals have a permanent symbolic relevance in his narrative structure. Most of his works deal with insecurities in order to give an existence of humanity.
In The Glass Palace, the havoc caused by Japanese invasion in Burma and its effect on the Army officers and people — a sense of dejection that deals with so much human tragedy, wars, deaths, devastation and dislocation – has been penned (Meenakshi Mukherjee, p.153) .
Postmodernism has not defend the western values and beliefs as it is a small part of the human experience and denies such ideas, beliefs, culture and norms of the western. In The Hungry Tide, Ghosh explore eco-environment and cultural issues through the intrusion of the West into East. The Circle of Reason is about the demolition of traditional village life by the modernizing influx of western culture and the subsequent displacement of non-European peoples by imperialism. In An Antique Land, the political tensions and communal rifts has portrayed.
Postcolonial migration is another characteristic of postmodernism. In The Hungry Tide, the theme of immigration, sometimes voluntary and sometimes forced, along with its bitter/sweet experiences, runs through most incidents in the core of the novel – the ruthless suppression and massacre of East Pakistani refugees who had run away from the Dandakaranya rufugee camps to Marichjhampi as they felt that the latter region would provide them with familiar environs and therefore a better life. In Sea of Poppies , the indentured labourers and convicts are transported to the island of Mauritius on the ship Ibis where they suffer a lot. In The Glass Palace, Burmese Royal family, after the exile, lives an uncomfortable life in India. Rajkumar who piles heap of amount in Burma is forced to leave his home and business due to Japanese invasion. Irony plays a vital role in the postmodern fiction. The writers treat the very subjects like World War II, communal riot, etc. from a distant position and choose to depict their histories ironically and humorously. In The Glass Palace, Amitav Ghosh weaves the characters of Queen Supayalat and Arjun with a tinge of irony. Queen Supayalat, even after being captured by the British forces, does not lose her pomp throughout the novel. The portraiture of the Queen is too ironic. Arjun, basically an Indian, is completely influenced by the western ideology. He imitates the
West in his dressing sense and food habit. He is not aware of the fact that he is used as instrumental to inflict pain on his own people.
The narrative style of Amitav Ghosh is typically postmodern. In The Shadow Lines, the narrative is simple. It flows smoothly, back and forth between times, places and characters. His prose in The Shadow Lines is so evocative and realistic written effortlessly as well as enigmatically with a blend of fiction and non-fiction. Throughout The Glass Palace, Ghosh uses one end to signal the beginning of another so that at one level, nothing changes but yet everything does. There is a strong suggestion of Buddhist metaphysics in his technique. Life, death, success and failure come in cycles and Ghosh uses the conceit of a pair of binoculars early in The Glass Palace to sensitize the reading in this perspective. Being a postmodernist, he makes use of very simple language to give clarity to the readers. Many Indians writing in English experiment with the language to suit their story. Ghosh also does it in The Hungry Tide using Bangla words like mohona, bhata and others, interweaving them with local myths like that of Bon Bibi and her brother Shaj Jangali, the presiding deities of the region. Though The Glass Palace and The Hungry Tide have their share of non-English lexical items, Sea of poppies in numerous places piles up the Indian (Bengali or Bhojpuri) or lascar-pidgin terms to the point where some readers might to some extent begin to get confused.

For Amitav Ghosh, language in the process of the production of art attains the status of diasporic representation – voicing him and thousands of other uprooted individuals. Language embodies the attempt to create family that has broken and dispersed in the mire of confused identity.
Ghosh believes in this language. and he tries to create this type of language in his work.
Postmodernists reject elaborate formal aesthetics in favour of minimalist designs. Amitav Ghosh does not give any preference for picturesque description and ornamental use of language. ‘Ghosh is very careful in his use of English and vernacular transcriptions. He develops a conscious and rich tradition in Indian English fiction, a tradition that includes R.K. Narayan and Shashi Deshpande. The attempt is not to stage Indian Englishes. Ghosh avoids the aestheticisation of language”. (p.108)
Postmodernists protect the cause of feminists. Uma, Amitav Ghosh’s character, is a good example of this. Uma is a break from the traditional women characters. She is a political activist who voyage around the country to deplete the patriotic spirits.
The Glass palace is romance, narrative fiction, adventure fiction, and historical fiction. He combines all the qualities of a novel to create fragmentation. Ghosh uses the romantic genre to the characters who reflect on the history of colonialism in Burma and the formation of the present Myanmar nation. It is also narrative fictions that utilize a complex spiral narrative structure to texture many characters’ identities and experiences in the world where we live in. It can be read in historical point of view, since it is portraiture of history and document of nation. Ghosh invents the third person narrator who relates a story in a spiral fashion that fictionalizes and makes real historical subject and event.
At last I conclude that Postmodernism does not has concrete definition yet and can be seen having distinct features of its own. It is too much complicated to concretize these solid elements. In this paper I put an attempt to apply the post-modern theory in selected novels of Amitav Ghosh.


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