The Passage of Literature: Genealogies of Modernism in Conrad, Rhys, and Pramoedya

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9780199751624: The Passage of Literature: Genealogies of Modernism in Conrad, Rhys, and Pramoedya
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Joseph Conrad, Jean Rhys, and Pramoedya Ananta Toer are writers renowned for crafting narratives of great technical skill that resonate with potent truths on the colonial condition. Yet given the generational and geographical boundaries that separated them, they are seldom considered in conjunction with one another. The Passage of Literature unites the three in a bracing comparative study that breaks away from traditional conceptions of modernism, going beyond temporal periodization and the entrenched Anglo-American framework that undergirds current scholarship.

This study nimbly traces a trio of distinct yet interrelated modernist genealogies. English modernism as exemplified by Conrad's Malay trilogy is productively paired with the hallmark work of Indonesian modernism, Pramoedya's Buru quartet. The two novel sequences, penned years apart, narrate overlapping histories of imperialism in the Dutch East Indies, and both make opera central for understanding the cultural dynamic of colonial power. Creole modernism--defined not only by the linguistic diversity of the Caribbean but also by an alternative vision of literary history--provides a transnational context for reading Rhys's Good Morning, Midnight and Wide Sargasso Sea, each novel mapped in relation to the colonial English and postcolonial Indonesian coordinates of Conrad's The Shadow-Line and Pramoedya's This Earth of Mankind. All three modernisms-English, Creole, and Indonesian-converge in a discussion of the Indonesian figure of the nyai, a concubine or house servant, who represents the traumatic core of transnational modernism. Throughout the study, Pramoedya's extraordinary effort to reconstruct the lost record of Indonesia's emergence as a nation provides a model for reading each fragmentary passage of literature as part of an ongoing process of decolonizing tradition.

Drawing on translated and un-translated works of fiction and nonfiction, GoGwilt effectively reexamines the roots of Anglophone modernist studies, thereby laying out the imperatives of a new postcolonial philology even as he resituates European modernism within the literary, linguistic, and historical context of decolonization.

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About the Author:


Christopher GoGwilt is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Fordham University. He is the author of The Invention of the West: Joseph Conrad and the Double-Mapping of Europe and Empire and The Fiction of Geopolitics: Afterimages of Culture from Wilkie Collins to Alfred Hitchcock.

Review:


"The Passage of Literature broadens our understanding of literary modernism, literary antecedents, and often-overlooked connections. In exploring the ''passage'' of literature, the work also offers a reading of history, even as it reminds us of how the literary and linguistic enterprises are intimately connected with contending histories, politics, and genealogies. In so doing, GoGwilt's study offers fresh insights into the historical, literary, and linguistic understandings of modernism(s) and of modernity." --Veronica M. Gregg, Modern Philology


"Reading three diverse modernisms-English, Creole, and Indonesian-in close conversation with one another, Christopher GoGwilt confronts the limits of predominantly Anglophone approaches to modernism. In the process, he redefines key concepts in postcolonial and modernist studies, productively extends recent debates concerning world literature, and offers a model for reconfiguring temporal and geographical relationships in global modernist studies." --Mary Lou Emery, author of Modernism, the Visual, and Caribbean Literature


"This is an illuminating comparative study of different genealogies of the modernist novel across continents and periods in the twentieth and early twenty-first century. The book's chapters on Pramoedya Ananta Toer's fascinating body of work add a genuinely non-Anglophone transnational dimension to the study of literary modernism, particularly in their provocative call for a theoretically informed postcolonial philology." --Pheng Cheah, author of Spectral Nationality: Passages of Freedom from Kant to Postcolonial Literatures of Liberation


"[A] brilliant comparative study of the interrelated genealogies of English, Creole, and Indonesian modernisms...GoGwilt reinvigorates postcolonial studies by returning it to close textual analysis. His valuable book will surely generate much research. Highly recommended." --Choice


"GoGwilt's practice of postcolonial philology offers modernist studies a rich theoretical approach through which to intimately connect, rather than merely multiply, transnational modernist movements. More importantly, he demonstrates how such readings can do ample justice to the historical and material interrelations of these modernisms." --Modern Fiction Studies


"Valuable for its many boundary-pushing endeavors and for the points of philological connection it raises between rarely compared writers. " --NOVEL


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9780199330133: The Passage of Literature: Genealogies of Modernism in Conrad, Rhys, and Pramoedya

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