Realisium in Shadow Lines

Topics: The Shadow Lines, Amitav Ghosh, Fiction Pages: 4 (1468 words) Published: September 1, 2009
According to the Oxford English Dictionary realism is defined as ‘close resemblance to what is real; fidelity of representation, the rendering of precise details of the real thing or scene.’ Phrases in the definition like ‘fidelity of representation’ or ‘rendering of precise details’ tends to show truth or reality to be a subjective matter (Morris). This leads us to believe that realism is then in fact a representation of someone’s reality which may not be someone else’s reality. Amitav Ghosh in his book The Shadow Lines (1988) dwells on reality as a construction, that is, reality as an individual creates it for him/herself. This paper will look at the construction of reality for us by the Author, narrator and the various other characters in the story and thus giving the reader the reality effect or realism. One of the ways in which reality is constructed in The Shadow Lines (1988) is by the use of detail. For one Amitav Ghosh naturalizes the text by ample use of facts that exist as facts even without the text. By placing the text in a real historical time, that is, post colonial India which was marked with several historical circumstances like the partition and riots that did in fact happen he creates a realistic situation for his characters to evolve around in the story. He uses dates as a means to create a timeline of the characters to match with that of an actual historical timeline (The story begins with ‘In 1939, thirteen years before I was born…’). The story is also placed in a very real Calcutta, London and Bangladesh and reference to real places in these cities like Gole Park, Dhakuria overbridge and Gariahat Road in Calcutta (pg 8, 9) and Lymington road in West Hampstead only add to the reality effect. The author also talks about newspapers – specific newspapers from specific time frames (pg 224 ‘I turned the pages to the edition of Saturday, 11 January 1964, and sure enough, there was a huge headline...’). Besides facts the author also...

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