Thursday, 27 September 2007

Postcolonial literature

Postcolonial literature (less often spelled "Post-colonial literature", sometimes called "New English Literature(s)") is literature concerned with the political and cultural independence of peoples formerly subjugated in colonial empires, and the literary expression of postcolonialism.

Postcolonial literary critics re-examine classic literature with a particular focus on the social "discourse" that shaped it. For instance, in Orientalism, Edward Said analyzes the works of Honoré de Balzac, Charles Baudelaire and Lautréamont, exploring how they were influenced by and helped to shape a societal fantasy of European racial superiority. Postcolonial fictional writers interact with the traditional colonial discourse, but modify or subvert it; for instance by retelling a familiar story from the perspective of an oppressed minor character in the story, for example Jean Rhys' Wide Sargasso Sea (1966), which was written as a pseudo-prequel to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre. Often the protagonist of a postcolonial work will find him/herself in a struggle to establish an identity, feeling conflicted between an old, native world that is being abolished by the invasive forces of modernity and/or the new dominant culture.

Postcolonial literature uses a wide range of terms, like "writing back", re-writing and re-reading, which describe the interpretation of well-known literature under the perspective of the formerly colonized. In Wide Sargasso Sea, the protagonist is renamed several times, and exploited in several ways. Other authors use different analogies for the colonized, but also very different approaches. Ayi Kwei Armah in "Two Thousand seasons" establishes a history for Africa.


Nikol said...

What do you think of Obadiah Shoher's extensive reply to Ed Said at ?

zed said...

Among the post-colonial literatures, Pakistani Literature in English is very significant entity because Pakistan was created as a result of the British colonization of India. But the Literature in English by the Pakistani writers is Post-Colonial in every respect. Feminism is one of the important themes of Pakistani literature but it has been dealt with in its own way because of the differences of ground realities. The writers like Bapsi Sidhwa, Talat Abassi, Ahmed Ali, Mohsin Hamid have played a very significant role in developing it.