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Clearing a Space

Reflections on India, Literature and Culture


Amit Chaudhuri

In the essays assembled in Clearing a Space, Chaudhuri draws on his own experiences to offer an acute exploration of what it means to be a modern Indian in relation to history. Often beginning with the personal, he inquires into the nature of the secular in India, into the history of such categories as the West, the foreign, the global and the exotic, and into the frequently torn and self-divided nature of modern Indian identity. With the same elegance and intelligence for which he has become known, Chaudhuri writes in these essays about Indian popular culture and high culture, travel and location in Paris, Bombay, Dublin, Calcutta and New York, empire and nationalism, Indian and Western cinema, the place of the everyday in Indian creativity, music, art and literature, politics, race, cosmopolitanism, urban landscapes, Hollywood and Bollywood, Anglophone India, internationalism, globalisation, the Indian English tradition that predates Rushdie, post-colonialism and much more.
Contents: Poles of Recovery – In the Waiting-Room of History: On Provincializing Europe – The Flute of Modernity: Tagore and the Middle Class – The East as a Career: On ‘Strangeness’ in Indian Writing – Argufying: On Amartya Sen and the Deferral of an Indian Modernity – This is Not Music: The Emergence of the Domain of ‘Culture’ – ‘Huge Baggy Monster’: Mimetic Theories of the Indian Novel after Rushdie – Two Giant Brothers: Tagore’s Revisionist ‘Orient’ – Travels in the Subculture of Modernity – Thoughts in a Temple: Hinduism in the Free Market – On the Nature of Indian Gothic: The Imagination of Ashis Nandy – ‘Hollywood aur Bollywood’ – The View from Malabar Hill – Stories of Domicile – Notes on the Novel after Globalization – Anti-Fusion – Arun Kolatkar and the Tradition of Loitering – Learning to Write: V.S. Naipaul, Vernacular Artist – A Bottle of Ink, a Pen and a Blotter: On R.K. Narayan – ‘A Feather! A Very Feather upon the Face!’: On Kipling – Returning to Earth: The Poetry of Jibanananda Das – Women in Love as Post-Human Essay – Champion of Hide and Seek: Raj Kamal Jha’s Surrealism – Midnight at Marble Arch: On The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid – Beyond ‘Confidence’: Rushdie and the Creation Myth of Indian English Writing.