Indian English

GJV Prasad teaches in the Centre for English Studies at JNU. A prominent, noted and prolific critic, Prof. Prasad specializes in translation studies, post-colonial literature, contemporary theatre, Indian literatures and last but not least, Indian writing in English. And if thats not enough, he also edits the journal JSL.  Writing India, Writing English: Literature, Language, Location is his new book from Routledge, India. 

English is a language of many identities in this country. For some it is still the colonial language and its speakers the hung-over populace of a colonial rule. For others, it is a language that has seen great change and literatures across the world. There are yet others who have moulded and managed the meaning and identity of English according to their own.

This volume explores the complex interaction between English and other Indian languages in the Indian literary oeuvre. The essays in this book examine how the nation is negotiated and constructed in English (and English translation), a language that calls for constant transformation even as it transforms Indian realities. It looks closely at how translation plays a major role in the making of an alternate nation, especially discussing the various developments in Tamil to give a counter-perspective. The different essays raise a variety of questions and embody the tense power dynamics that mark this relationship.

The book is divided into two sections and the essays each section emphasise the different ways in which English is used as a mode of literary expression in India.  The first section discusses the decisive influence of English in India and the ideas of connectedness as a nation. Starting with an assessment of Macaulay and his famous Minutes, it includes essays on translating from Tamil and on the mixed language that is evolving in the Tamil cultural world because of the presence of English (and Hindi); the politics of anthologisation; and how Karnad’s Tughlaq deals with the idea of the nation, looking at its historical location. The second part delves into how Indian English literature grapples with the representation of the Indian nation, sometimes obsessively, evinced both in poetry and in novels. The ultimate focus is on the struggle between the dominant regional language of a place and English, along with the author’s location at this interface part of the creative tension that gives energy and uniqueness to Indian English writing.

In our Literary Criticism section, in hardcover, 196 pages, Rs 545. ISBN: 9780415693790 

Comments