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Speaking the Language of the Night

Aspects of the Gothic in Selected Contemporary Novels

Adriana Raducanu

This study contributes to the emerging field of Global Gothic. It focuses on the survival and evolution of Gothic subgenres and tropes in selected contemporary novels, produced in geographies and histories far away from its Western cradle. Some Gothic features identified as universal such as the relationship between space and character, the sublime, the process of Othering, uncanny doubles and the dissolution of identity are explored. This study maintains that the novels under scrutiny, written by a wide variety of authors such as Adiga, Desai, Ishiguro, Müller, Pamuk, Roberts and Rushdie, facilitate a fruitful dialogue between West and East under the sign of Gothic. A diverse critical apparatus is employed, including texts from Bhabha, Kristeva, Deleuze and Guattari, Derrida, Mishra and others.
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Tales of Labyrinths – The White Tiger and the Postcolonial Metamorphosis of Gothic

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When Aravind Adiga was interviewed about the origins of his novel The White Tiger he explained that it was the result of his “coming back to India”, “after having lived in Australia, and studied English literature at Columbia University in New York and Oxford University”, in other words after having lived “abroad from the age of 15 until 28” (Adiga 2008: 2). Clearly then, according to its author, The White Tiger is a narrative born from a ‘return’ to, a ‘re-acquaintance’ with, and a ‘reappraisal’ of social, psychological, and national realities, which had seemingly melted into the larger frame of a Western educational framework, but which were definitely ‘there’, waiting to ‘haunt’ Adiga and claim their right to being voiced, in fictional form. Considering the long period of time that he spent abroad in his formative years, the young author belongs to the category of the so-called “deshi-writers”, i.e. Indian writers who often return to India in what they write, not just to placate a most natural nostalgia, but also because of a shift in perspective, leading to a double discovery of their country of origin and country of choice (Kumar: xiv). Interestingly, Adiga seems to have brought from abroad, and locally revived not just a fresh, inquisitive spirit, perhaps (not necessarily, though) more alert in depicting Indian and Western realities, but also the Gothic, a genre that saw the light of day in eighteenth century England and managed to survive into our postmodern world. Recently Gothic has extended beyond...

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