Cerca nell'estratto del documento
POSTMODERNISM. Colonial India After 1858 (the establishment of British rule in India), a new political and cultural group was emerging: the Anglo-Indians, people of British origin who spent a part of their life in India, working for the government. Most of them believed in the ideology expressed by Kipling in his The White Man's Burden: the British had the special mission to educate the more 'primitive' people by bringing civilisation, law and order to the colonies. Anglo-Indians didn't usually mix with the natives, on the contrary they tried to reproduce their British lifestyle by for example meeting for entertainment at clubs which were forbidden to the Indians. (RACISM). The Anglo-Indians were supposed to behave according to good imperial practice: order, discipline, sacrifice and humility. Two Anglo-Indians writers were Rudyard Kipling and Edward Morgan Forster: they spent part of their lives in India and experienced at first hand the reality of the Empire there. They showed their different attitudes towards the British rule: Kipling supported it, whereas Forster had a more critical and controversial approach to the colonial situation. The themes were the difficulties of the British people serving in India, the culture clash between the Indian and the Anglo-Indian communities, whose values, traditions and attitudes seem very far from each other, the great variety of multicultural India and the difficult relationships within the diverse communities. However different, Kipling's and Forster's works show British India from an uncompromising European point of view, and this represents their critical of sympathetic attitude towards the reality they portray. Also, the literary forms employed by these writers reflect their European background although they are necessarily marked by Indian influence, namely in the use of words and expressions. The readers were mainly British, meanwhile Indian-born writers started writing in English and portrayed the Indian reality and the colonial issues from an internal point of view.
The British in India • By the end of the 18th century the British had gained complete supremacy in India. • Consequently, a feeling of uneasiness and hostility against the British rule started among
the population, culminating in the 1857 Indian Mutiny (native troops repressed with great bloodshed).
• In 1858 the East India Company was replaced by the Government of India. The British Crown assumed full control of the country.
• Modernisation followed: railways and other facilities were built and school and universities opened, where lessons were given in English. Meanwhile, the importance of the colonies grew because they had become a source of prestige and economic power providing new materials.
• The most supreme act of British power was seen in 1877, when Queen Victoria was proclaimed Empress of India.
• Towards the end of the 19th century some educated Indians started to claim self- determination, so in 1919 the Government of India Act granted Indians partial responsibility for the government of the provinces.
• Nevertheless, the struggle for independence continued: in 1920Mahatma Gandhi started a policy of non-violent protest with widespread strikes, the boycott of British goods, and civil disobedience.
• In 1926 the Commonwealth of Nations was established, transforming the former colonies into autonomous communities within the British Empire.
• In 1935 another Government of India Act provided greater autonomy for the provincial governments and in 1947 the India Independence Act established the creation of India and Pakistan as two independent Dominions.
The European powers in Africa During the 19th century Britain started showing interest in the interior of Africa as a source of precious raw materials. However, Africa was not only exploited for its economic potential but also colonised to protect trade, prevent slave traffic and spread Christianity. In Berlin between 1884 and 1885 the West Africa Conference was held: the partition of areas of influence in Africa among European countries. The Conference established free trade in
Congo and free navigation on the Congo and Niger rivers, forbade slave trading and created Congo Free State belonging to the king of Belgium. Towards the end of the century the British tried to take control of areas in South African territories which had gold and diamond mines, but were occupied by the Boers (settlers of Dutch origins). The controversy led to two wars, the so-called First Anglo-Boer War (1880-1881) and the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902). At the end of these conflicts, the Boers surrendered and by the 1914, Britain had occupied a corridor that stretched from Egypt to South Africa. Besides, although most British African colonies had been transformed into protectorates colonial governments had total control of the occupied territories. After World War II, between 1956 and 1968, a gradual decolonisation of British Africa took place and independent African nations came into being. The origins of Colonialism in English fiction The description of the real reasons at the basis of Colonialism and then the 'colonial awareness' appeared in English fiction at the end of the 19th century. Before then, examples of 'colonial literature' could be found in the early stages of Colonialism, as can be seen in Shakespeare's The Tempest (. . .). About a century later Daniel Defoe wrote Robinson Crusoe which can be defined as the first example of colonial narration. In Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë there is also a hint at the colonial world (Mr Rochester's insane wife). The turning point in the description of Colonialism can be identified in some authors such as Joseph Conrad and Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson's The Beach of Falesà links the traditional adventurous theme of colonial conquest with profit-making motivations and consequent moral degeneration, marking the end of literature which describes imperialism as a heroic and altruistic adventure. However, it's with Conrad's short story An Outpost of Progress and his novel Heart of Darkness that the deep impact of the African reality on Europeans are shown. In Conrad's works, in spite of the denunciation of the cruel exploitation of the natives and of the environment, the point of view remains European, and the focus seems to be more on the effects of the 'alien' world on the European mind rather than on African people.
Postcolonial writers 'Postcolonial writers' are writers who were born or whose origins are in the former British colonies. Their works are the expression of a new spirit of ethnic and stylistic multiculturalism. Consequently, it's now possible to talk about 'literatures in English' rather than 'English in literature'. These writers provide new and powerful imagery: they show native traditions, values, myths and experience clashing, coexisting, interacting and merging with European culture. The main themes concern the description of the past of colonised peoples, the consequences of Colonialism on the colonised peoples, the dramatic contrast between European culture and the native world, issues of the postcolonial world: the enthusiasm for independence and the gradual disappointment with the way independence develops. And finally, the migrants' condition and their sense of displacement and the difficulties of merging Indian traditions into American society.
Decolonisation, a social background After World War II European countries granted independence to their colonies. However, this didn't mean solutions for the economic, social and political problems of these countries. Sometimes, after enthusiasm and sense of regeneration, there was disappointment because of widespread corruption and totalitarian leaders who were as oppressive as the white colonists. These leaders gave more importance to their own maintenance in power than to the achievement of democracy and equality. To try to escape from the economic and social crises or to look for better education or work, many natives of the ex-colonies migrated to the former colonial power, where they accepted humble jobs. These migrants were often subjected to discrimination and social isolation. In Britain they settled in concentrated areas where problems of housing, education and work arose. So social tensions between the migrants and the former inhabitants of these areas broke out because the migrants were seen as responsible for social problems such as unemployment. Consequently, in 1962, in order to put a stop to heavy migrant, the United Kingdom passed a
law: the Commonwealth Immigration Act, which established that people who wanted to immigrate to the UK needed a voucher stating they would work. But then in 1968 it became necessary to have a parent or grandparent who was born in or was a citizen of the UK, and the 1971 Immigration Act replaced employment vouchers with work permits, allowing only temporary residence. In Britain the migrants' attitudes to new environment were diverse, ranging from the need for integration to maintaining their own culture. Here develops the concepts of 'hybridity' or 'new cultural identities', terms which refer to communities of people who are still influenced by the 'old country' but have to get used to another lifestyle.
The choice of language for postcolonialist writers All postcolonial writers have had to use English or other European languages as a mean of communication in their literary production. They decide to employ the mother tongue of their colonial masters as it is the only way to be understood by the largest number of people who speak different local languages but one colonial language. These writers created their own style, using a European language and Western literary forms in which they express a subject matter rooted in their traditions. The result is an enrichment of the English language and a style in which native proverbs, sayings, legends, figurative language, oral story-telling, imagery and rhythm combine with western literary genres such as fiction, poetry and drama.
Postmodernism is the name given to the period of literary criticism that comes after the modern period. It has two meanings: firstly, as a definition for the contemporary cultural context, secondly as an umbrella term to indicate different cultural products. Modernism Postmodernism Artists believed in the search for the truth. Artistes believed there's no identifiable truth. Art was experimental, innovative and complex. Art is repetitive and uses familiar or ready-
made objects, or mechanical reproductions of objects.
A work of art was believed to be a unique object and there were certain agreed-upon standards that validated the work of art.
There are no agreed-upon standards to establish what is/is not a work of art.
Modernists believed that the artist was the creator of culture and had a special place in society.
Artists do not believe that they occupy a special place apart from the rest of society as art is only a process or a performance.
Art tended to have a shocking effect on people and once it was created, it was there to last.
Artists believe nothing is permanent or stable.
Artists believed their work could leave a permanent effect on culture.
Their work aims at leaving an impress of incompleteness because a work of art can't be completed.
Trying to define Postmodernism Postmodernism have reached full development in the 1960s. These were years of social and political unrest in the world. 1968 saw the culminating of dissent with the intense student protests in different parts of the worlds. The notion of change didn't only involve politics but also growth and interest in popular art such as music, cinema and television. USA had a leading role in the cultural field, but it was from the British bands the Beatles and the Rolling Stones that the American rock revolutions got its first impetus. Then it was left to performers to introduce more socially conscious lyrics: in the early 60s, American folk singers made their songs a vehicle for protest., while in the later 60s some musicians made music a mean of subversion. In 1969 about 400,000 young people gathered to hear rock music at the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, the 1st music festival. The change in cultural interests and standards was also seen in films. People wanted to have access to movies that reflected the way people really lived (including nudity, violence previously censured). Nowadays, many of the controversial films from the 60s are considered classics of American cinema.
The Graduatefor example, criticised bourgeois society in its story of a young graduate who rejects what middle-class society wants him to become, and Easy Rider captured the rebellious spirit of two bikers who travel across the country to assert their freedom.. In the same year, television was developing into a medium. By the end of the 1960s situation comedies (sitcom) were established as a popular form of show and TV programmes had put together different forms of entertainment. The result of this evolution was to mix cultural forms that have been separated previously. For example, rock music got to be used to accompany new reports or documentaries. Such tendency to mix different art forms became one of the distinguishing features of Postmodernism.
The troublesome sixties At the end of World War II, the USA had begun to be considered the most powerful nation on earth. By the late 50s it was the USA which dictated trends in politics and culture, while the Old Continent had taken an ancillary role. Democrat Joseph Fitzgerald Kennedy, elected president in 1960, represented the spirit of change when he introduced his political programme, known as the New Frontier, showing how much he wanted to push Americans into a new age of accomplishment. He was assassinated in 1963. His successor, Lyndon Johnson inherited the problem of American involvement in Vietnam (1955-1975). Since the 50s USA had been supplying money, arms, and military advisors to South Vietnam. During Johnson's administration the conflict grew quickly and the USA was involved into America's greatest military disaster. A large anti-war movement had already started on college campus and in three years it became a powerful force. From 1968 the USA began to gradually withdraw their forces from Vietnam and the war ended in 1975 with the fall of Saigon to communist forces. In 1968 another assassination left the nation horrified. Civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., who had been inspiring the American people with his dream for a better nation, was killed. The hopes of the Sixties for a more liberal and equal America seemed to fade with the end of the decade. Republican Richard Nixon, elected in 1968, represented the growing conservative political movement of the period. By the end of the decade, many people shifted their attention from world affairs and politics to their own private lives, a shift that earned the 1970s the nickname 'The Me Decade', indicating a process of 'individualisation of society'. Capitalism and Globalisation Since the 1960s, changes in the economic system have contributed to alter the way people interact in society. Western civilisation have gradually adopted capitalism as their sole economic model. The growth of economy persuaded many countries that the consumer society was the model that could best express instances of individual freedom. However, has capitalism has evolved, the individual seemed to have lost importance, faced with distant institutions from people, and the new systems of production left workers feeling like insignificant parts of a machine. Also people could be moved from a place to work to another, according to a logic of company profit. In the last decades of the 20th century a crucial shift has occurred from a traditional industrial production to a globalised system of production. This change has meant that for example, the car-makers that went bankrupt have gradually moved their production elsewhere, leaving behind old factories. Moreover, the increasing importance of invisible products such as software, telecommunications, bank services, has modified people's perception of what real production is about. Even money has been altered by the use of credit cards. This historical phase has been defined as the 'third stage of capitalism', a moment in which the progressive globalisation of economy has transformed stores, fast-food outlets, shopping centres and cinemas into spaces which all look the same all over the Western world. Global capitalism has mode our world postmodern in that it mixes different lifestyles and cultures, threatening people's sense of stability and increasing their sense of alienation.
Postmodern fiction Postmodern writers are not homogeneous in their modes of writing. Still, postmodern novels share the intent of questioning the capacity of language to convey the notion that a universal truth can be defined and recognised by everybody. Modernist writers (Conrad, Joyce, Woolf) believed that the interior world of individuals could be rendered through words. Therefore, they used the technique of the 'interior monologue' to plunge the reader into the character's
minds. This operation involved lots of trust in the power of words. In contrast, postmodern writers feel extremely suspicious about the capacity of language to make subjective experiences universal. So they declare their scepticism about the power of words and insist on the artificial nature of their own fictions. Once the reader is honestly told that there is nothing honest in a novel, the reader feels at ease to believe or disbelieve the story. Novelists therefore don't pretend to have authority and control, and their readers assume a more active role in creating the meaning of a text. In this operation, they suggest three main things to the reader: to be doubtful of texts which pretend to represent any kind of truth; to realise that what they are reading is fabricated and that the text shows the traces of its own construction; to understand that what they are reading might have many interpretations, and they have to be able to find one or more possible meanings.
Metafiction In order to make their readers aware that what they are reading is constructed, postmodernist writers draw attention to the process of writing itself. The literary product is known as metafiction, that is fiction about the nature of fiction. Characters are presented as having a life of their own so that sometimes even the narrator has trouble controlling them. For example in Graham Swift's Waterland, the narrator mixes historical facts and imaginary events, creating a story which we are invited to be doubtful. In addition, stylistic choices are arbitrary.
Micro-histories and untold stories Postmodernist writers also suggest that if stories are not simply told but fabricated, texts can only account for a small-scale reality. The notion of 'history' is substituted by a more believable and controllable multiplicity of stories that have no pretension to reveal any universal truth. There seem to be an infinite number of micro-histories, stories that might have been submerged by the tide of history. J.M. Coetzee's Foe is a complex work that can be seen as a joint effort of Postmodernism and Postcolonialism to bring to life the 'untold' stories of 'subaltern' characters who were marginalised from history and were never given a choice.
Fiction and consumer society Recent Postmodern works have started to explore the psychological effects of postmodernity on the individual. The world depicted in these novels is alienated from reality because television, the media, advertising and marketing have transformed people's perception of what is real and what is represented or simulated. And technology has become so pervasive that sounds made by machines and the media make it impossible for people to distinguish what is human from what is artificial.
Post-Postmodernism In the last few years, social observers and critics have begun to claim that Postmodernism is over. The 'contemporariness' of texts written in the 1980s is now put into question. Books were just beginning to grasp the potential of popular culture, as expressed for instance by television and rock music. These texts didn't even conceive the possibility of the technology and communication media which are taken for granted now. In Postmodernism, people read, watched and listened, as they had always done before. Postmodern theory has now become quite irrelevant even within academia itself. From being directly 'experienced', Postmodernism has now turned into the object of exhibitions, testifying it's historical importance and 'deadness'. Work such as Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections show a return to realistic conventions, where the reader is again asked to believe that the story that is told is somehow real. Therefore Franzen seems to have moved away from Postmodernism without losing sight of contemporary society. It is almost impossible now, in the middle of transition, to predict where contemporary fiction might be going. However a novel is never an accidental product and it will always develop devouring and digesting change.
RUDYARD KIPLING. Rudyard Kipling spent his early childhood in India, but when he was six he and his sister were taken back to Britain to stay with an English family in order to attend English schools. This was a miserable period for Kipling because he missed his family, the Indian atmosphere and was often ill-treated by his foster parents. So he was very happy, when he was seventeen years old, to go back to India, where he started working as a journalist for Anglo-Indian newspaper and where in 1888 he published his first collection of short stories, Plain Tales From the Hills and Wee Willie Winkie. Travelling to different parts of India as a part of his job gave him the opportunity to experience the reality of the Empire and to develop his views about the relationship between colonisers and colonised, which would become one of the main themes of the short stories written in this period. After moving back to England in 1889, he married Caroline Balestier and settled in Vermont in the USA. In 1892 is fame as a successful writer was established after the publication of his first collection of poems Barrack-Room Ballads, about the life of British soldiers in India and involving situations and themes linked to the Empire. His subsequent work was The Jungle Book, a collection of tales portraying anthropomorphised animals. These stories, the best-known of which are about Mowgli, a boy who is brought up by wolves, can be read at different levels: as children's tales as well as allegories of the society of his time which suggested moral lessons. In the same period he wrote also The Second Jungle Book and the novel Captain Courageous about the growth into maturity of a young boy during adventures at sea. In 1896 he moved back to Britain with his family, and a few years later his daughter died leaving him distraught. In the same year he wrote 'The White Man's Burden'. During the Boer War he spent some time in South Africa, where he wrote Kim, a novel set in the Himalayas. The young orphan Kim has an Irish father and a white mother and he lives as a beggar in the Indian market places, feeling at home in both Indian and lower-class British cultures and because of this he's recruited as a spy by the British army, as he's considered the perfect spy. Kipling continued writing poetry too, and his famous poem 'If' itemising the essential features of a leader. During World War I his son John died fighting, which was another terrible blow for him. From 1919 to 1932 he continued travelling and writing. Kipling was the he first British author who received the Nobel Prize for Literature, and his literary production includes a variety of genres ranging from poetry to novels to children's stories and essays. He is considered a master of the short story. His fictional style probably derives from his experience as a journalist: it implies simple lexis used to present vivid everyday situations, whereas his poems are usually written in quite a high register, suggesting the values and emotions which the author wanted to convey. However Kipling also introduced innovations in poetry with unusual topics such as barrack-room life, and unusual vocabulary which included military and technical words as well as terms from all the languages of India. Today Kipling's fame is controversial: on the one hand he's considered a patriotic writer, celebrating the Empire in its expansionist phase. On the other hand, recent criticism has pointed out that his works set in India focus on the difficult life of the British soldier working not for himself but for the British Empire on the mixture of cultural backgrounds and loyalties as seen in a character like Kim.
'The White Man's Burden' This poem was written by Kipling to encourage the USA to follow the example of other European countries and start imperialistic enterprises. The poem aroused controversy since it was considered the expression of a racist attitude. //The tasks to civilise the 'lesser breeds' mirror a racist and an imperialist attitude as they imply that one race is superior to another; besides, he pointed out that an empire is primarily a money-making concern. Imperialism is a sort of forcible evangelizing. Nevertheless, Kipling absorbed different aspects of the cultural background of the time and thought that the Empire had a humanitarian task and in another poem 'The Ballad of East and West' he recognised greatness in individuals of different races. Kipling's stylistic choices involve a traditional poetic form, regular rhythm, and formal lexis to create an emphatic, high- sounding tone.// Plain Tales From the Hills (1888) PTFTH is his first collection of short stories. They are set in India and describe different situations
involving the life of British soldiers in the Empire. Sometimes the natives and their culture are presented too, and the narrator usually describes Indian customs and traditions showing the natives' virtues and vices. The tone is conversational, and the narrator (first person) sometimes addresses his readers and comments on the situations. A sense of humour and irony are often used at the expense of British men and their defects.
Thrown Away It's the story of a young English officer who cannot endure the hard life in India and eventually kills himself. Here the narrator, a fellow officer, focuses on the difficulties British Army members have to cope with while serving in India. //This extract portrays from a resigned and even cynical point of view the life and work of British officers in India and their difficulties in adjusting to the new environment. The language is simple because it presents vivid everyday situations. Furthermore, Kipling often introduces Indian words which were quite familiar to his Anglo-Indian readers (use of local words).//