Title

Encounters with India : neither self nor other and, Spectrum : a collection of short stories

Date of Award

2009

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Faculty

Faculty of Education and Arts

First Advisor

Cynthia vanden Driesen

Abstract

This work comprises a collection of six short stories set in post-independence India and entitled Spectrum. The stories explore varied aspects of contemporary Indian society where, despite economic growth in the years after independence, the resulting prosperity continues to be unevenly distributed; poverty and deprivation are still the lot of many, and class and gender disparity appear as entrenched as ever.

The stories encompass shifting points of view: most are constructed from the viewpoint of the 'insider', but the Indian panorama is also seen and experienced from the perspective of the 'outsider', the foreign observer. Set on different sides of the ethnic and social divide, the themes of the stories include class dispmity, the status of women and aspects of Indian religious practices. Most of the characters seem somehow alienated from themselves and their world.

The accompanying critical essay, Encounter with India: Neither Self nor Other, explores the stories in Spectrum with regard to the multiplicities of my cultural heritage, and in particular my ambivalent relationship with India. The flexibility of the short story allows me to enter the experiences and emotions of a diverse number of characters. The challenge faced by writers like myself, who use the English language to probe the complexities of the post-colonial inheritance and who straddle not only different worlds, but struggle also to conceptualise the idea of a dissonant Self, is also explored.

LCSH Subject Headings

Anglo-Indians - Ethnic identity

India – Fiction

Access Note

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