Analysis of the Main Indian Characters in Orientalist Discourse in

Topics: Western world, India, E. M. Forster Pages: 10 (3747 words) Published: November 16, 2010
Analysis of the Main Indian Characters in Orientalist Discourse in A Passage to India

Abstract: E. M. Forster is one of the most outstanding British writers in the early twentieth century. His novel A Passage to India was published in 1924 and it aroused much criticism at the time. With the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978), this novel has been reinterpreted from a new prospective —— Orientalist criticism. Applying Orientalist criticism, this paper intends to reveal Forster’s double angles of view and give an analysis of the novel’s main Indian characters in Orientalist discourse. Key words: E. M. Forster, A Passage to India, Orientalism, Orientalist criticism, Orientalist discourse


摘要: 爱•摩•福斯特是二十世纪早期英国最杰出的作家之一。一九二四年他的小说《印度之行》出版并在当时引起了很多评论。随着一九七八年爱德华•赛义德《东方学》的问世,这部小说受到了东方主义批评理论的重新诠释。本文旨在通过对福斯特双重视角的分析,从东方主义批评的角度来解读《印度之行》中东方主义话语下的主要印度人物形象。 关键词:爱•摩•福斯特, 《印度之行》,东方主义,东方主义批评理论, 东方主义话语

E. M. Forster is one of the most outstanding British writers in the early twentieth century. The novel A passage to India (1924) is drawn on Forster’s own experiences in India during his visits there in 1912 and 1921. Ranked as one of E. M. Forster’s most mature and brilliant works, the novel aroused much criticism at the time and its complexity of theme and structure and its metaphysical implications was widely interpreted from many perspectives such as symbolism, dualism, humanism, feminist criticism, existentialism, etc. Since 1970s, with the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism(1978), many Western scholars have reinterpreted this novel from a new perspective, Orientaist criticism. Though E. M. Forster shows great courage in exposing the British rule in India and in expressing his deep sympathy to the colonized Indian people in the novel, as a writer in the imperial country, he could not avoid being affected with the deep-rooted Western collective thought of Orientalism and Europocentrism. Adopting Orientalist criticism, we find that the Indians in the novel are all stereotyped Orientals and there are many textual evidences of Orientalist discourse in Forster’s portrayal of the main Indian characters.

Chapter One Edward Said’s Orientalism
1. A brief introduction to Edward Said’s Orientalism
Orientalism, which derives from the Latin word “oriens” (rising) and, equally likely, from the Greek word (‘he’oros’, the direction of the rising sun), refers to the imitation or depiction of aspects of Eastern cultures in the West by writers, designers and artists, and can also refer to a sympathetic stance towards the region by a writer or other person. Last century, these meanings were given a new twist by Edward Said in his controversial book Orientalism (1978), where he uses the term to describe a tradition, both academic and artistic, of hostile and deprecatory views of the East by the West, shaped by the attitudes of the era of European imperialism in the 18th and 19th centuries. According to Said, the Orientalism in the Europe, especially in Britain and France, is “a way of coming to terms with the Orient that is based on the Orient's special place in European Western experience”, (Orientalism, P. 1) is “a style of thought based upon an ontological and epistemological distinction made between ‘the Orient’ and (most of the time) ‘the Occident’”, (Orientalism, P. 2) is “a Western style for dominating, restructuring, and having authority over the Orient”, (Orientalism, P. 3) is “a distribution of geopolitical awareness into aesthetic, scholarly, economic, sociological, historical, and philological texts”. (Orientalism, P. 12) The basic theme of Orientalism is that Western knowledge about the East is not generated from facts, but through imagined constructs that see all “Eastern” societies as fundamentally similar, all sharing crucial characteristics unlike those of “Western” societies, thus, this ‘a priori’ knowledge established the East as antithetical to...

References: [1] Beer, J. (ed.). A Passage to India: Essays in Interpretation. London: Macmillan, 1985.
[3] Forster E.M.. A Passage to India. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books Ltd, 1979. 文中注明页码的引文均出自本书.
[4] Herz, J. S. A Passage to India: Nation and Narration. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1993.
[5] Messenger, Nigel. How to Study an E.M. Forster Novel. London: Macmillan Education LTD., 1991.
[6] Said, E. W. Orientalism. New York: Vintage Books, 1979.
[7] Laura Heffernan (季文娜译). 《印度之行——哈佛蓝星双语名著导读》. 天津:天津科技翻译出版公司, 2008.
[11] 骆文琳. “解读《印度之行》中的殖民主义意识”. 四川外语学院学报. 2003年第5期.
[12] 阮伟.《二十世纪英国小说评论》.北京: 中国社会科学出版社, 2001.
[13] 周韵.“试论《印度之行》的后殖民倾向”. 江苏教学院学报. 2001年第5期.
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