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Native Intelligence

Aesthetics, Politics, and Postcolonial Literature

2003
Author:

Deepika Bahri

Native Intelligence

A compelling reclamation of the place of aesthetics in postcolonial literature

In neglecting postcolonial literature’s aesthetic dimension, this book demonstrates, we are overlooking an essential aspect of this literature and a critical perspective on its sociopolitical function and value. Bahri shows how attention to the aesthetic innovations and utopian impulses of postcolonial works uncovers their complex relationship to ideology, reanimating their potential to make contributions to the larger project of social liberation.

Native Intelligence combines a seasoned analysis of canonical postcolonial texts with a convincing argument about the significance of aesthetic theory to the discipline of postcolonial studies. Her study is easily one of the best in the field—a meditative, meticulous, well-executed scholarly work that offers an enduring framework for all postcolonial literature.

Modern Fiction Studies

Literature though it may be, postcolonial literature is studied and understood largely—and often solely—in social and political terms. In neglecting its aesthetic dimension, as this book forcefully demonstrates, we are overlooking not only an essential aspect of this literature but even a critical perspective on its sociopolitical function and value. In Native Intelligence, Deepika Bahri focuses on postcolonial literature’s formal and aesthetic negotiations with sociopolitical concerns.

How, Bahri asks, do aesthetic considerations contest the social function of postcolonial literature? In answering, her book takes on two tasks: First, it identifies the burden of representation borne by postcolonial literature through its progressive politicization. Second, it draws on Frankfurt School critical theory to reclaim a place for aesthetics in literary representation by closely engaging works of Rohinton Mistry, Salman Rushdie, and Arundhati Roy. Throughout, Bahri shows how attention to the aesthetic innovations and utopian impulses of postcolonial works uncovers their complex and uneven relationship to ideology, reanimating their potential to make novel contributions to the larger project of social liberation.

Native Intelligence

Deepika Bahri is associate professor in the Department of English at Emory University and coeditor, with Mary Vasudeva, of Between the Lines: South Asians and Postcoloniality (1996).

Native Intelligence

Native Intelligence combines a seasoned analysis of canonical postcolonial texts with a convincing argument about the significance of aesthetic theory to the discipline of postcolonial studies. Her study is easily one of the best in the field—a meditative, meticulous, well-executed scholarly work that offers an enduring framework for all postcolonial literature.

Modern Fiction Studies

Not only are the readings of Native Intelligence original, they are poetically compelling and philosophically profound. Bahri seems to know as much about the technical contours of Postcolonial Studies as anyone writing.

Henry Schwarz, Georgetown University

Native Intelligence constitutes a fiercely interesting—and interested—critical attempt to locate a poetics for postcoloniality.

Stephen Slemon, University of Albert

Native Intelligence

Content

Acknowledgments

Introduction:The End of Literature

ONE The Practical Discipline
TWO Uncommon Grounds: Postcolonialism and the Irish Case
THREE The Aesthetic Dimension of Representation
FOUR The Economy of Postcolonial Literature: Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey
FIVE Before and after Midnight: Salman Rushdie and the Subaltern Standard
SIX Geography Is Not History: The Storyteller in the Age of Globalization

Notes
Works Cited

Index