Post-Colonial Melancholy: An Examination ofSadness in Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines
The article undertakes a study on melancholy and sadnessin Amitav Ghosh’s The Shadow Lines
, concentrates on theforlorn ﬁgures of Tridib and the narrator in an attempt to analyse and evaluate the melancholy atmosphere of the novel. Bearing inmind Freud’s own understanding of melancholy as the uncon-scious mourning for a lost love object, the article suggests themoments of gloom in Ghosh’s novel could be better understood as a form of postcolonial melancholy for the lost colonial object – noting any nostalgic sense, but rather the sadness which arises from the crisis of identity both Tridib and, in a larger sense, the postcolonial intellectual faces who wishes to avoid both the imperial identity forced upon him by colonial powers and, at the same time, thenarrow, bullying hegemony of an artiﬁcially constructed nationalism. The sadness of The Shadow Lines, does spring from the irresolvability of this dilemma.But the permanent face of India and the permanent face of England arediﬀerent, they wear diﬀerent looks. Time has made the face of my country stark,restrained and sad, and it remains so in spite of the spiritual half-castes. The face of England remains smiling.-Nirad C. Chaudhuri, A Passage To England
And now, with gleams of half-extinguished thought,With many recognitions dim and faint,And somewhat of a sad perplexity,The picture of the mind revives again …
-Wordsworth, ‘‘Lines Written A Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey’’, lines 59–
For anyone who has ever read Chaudhuri’s wry, laconic account of hisﬁve-week stay in England, the idea of a sad, ‘‘chastened’’ India, juxtaposedagainst the ‘‘smiling’’ face of England, strikes an odd note. Not merelybecause it contradicts all the standard Orientalist cliche ´s we are used to – introspective, uptight, unhappy-looking Westerners versus talkative,bouncing, extroverted Easterners
Chaudhuri’s Englishmen hardly ever...
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