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Mahatma Misunderstood

Mahatma Misunderstood

The Politics and Forms of Literary Nationalism in India

By Snehal Shingavi

“The Mahatma Misunderstood” is a study of the fiction about Gandhi produced in his lifetime, and explains why novelists both vehemently critiqued and lovingly collaborated with the Mahatma simultaneously.

Hardback, 244 Pages

ISBN:9780857285119

January 2013

£70.00, $115.00

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  • About This Book
  • Reviews
  • Author Information
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  • Table of Contents
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About This Book

“The Mahatma Misunderstood” studies the relationship between the production of novels in late-colonial India and nationalist agitation promoted by the Indian National Congress. The volume examines the process by which novelists who were critically engaged with Gandhian nationalism, and who saw both the potentials and the pitfalls of Gandhian political strategies, came to be seen as the Mahatma’s standard-bearers rather than his loyal opposition.

In doing so, the volume challenges the orthodoxy in postcolonial and subaltern studies which contends that nationalists and nationalisms use independence to bring to power a bourgeois elite, who produce a story about the nation that erases the unevenness of minority experiences and demands in favor of simplified, majoritarian citizenship. Instead ‘The Mahatma Misunderstood’ demonstrates that nationalist fiction (and by extension the nationalist political movement) was marked from the beginning by a deep ambivalence about the relevance of nationalist agitation and mainstream nationalist politics for minorities in colonial India, and sought to recast anticolonial politics through novelistic debates with the spokesman for Indian nationalism, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi.

The volume thus articulates a recuperative theory of nationalism in the Indian case, in order to move thinking about nationalism beyond the current impasse produced by postcolonial theory in an era of transnational capitalism that too frequently forgets, underestimates or represses the national in the transnational.

Reviews

 “Richly historicized and rigorously attentive to form, this book evades stale theoretical assumptions and makes an important contribution to the study of Indian English fiction. Inviting a reconsideration of the problematic of anticolonial nationalism, Shingavi offers lucid and erudite Gramscian readings of significant texts and their engagement with the fraught hermeneutics of Gandhi as Mahatma.” —Dr Priyamvada Gopal, Faculty of English, University of Cambridge

Author Information

Snehal Shingavi is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at the University of Texas, Austin, where he specializes in the teaching of English, Hindi and Urdu literature from India and Pakistan.

Series

Anthem South Asian Studies

Diversity and Plurality in South Asia

Anthem Modern South Asian History

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; Introduction; Chapter 1: The Mahatma as Proof: The Nationalist Origins of the Historiography of Indian Writing in English; Chapter 2: “The Mahatma didn’t say so, but …”: Mulk Raj Anand’s “Untouchable” and the Sympathies of Middle-Class Nationalists; Chapter 3: “The Mahatma may be all wrong about politics, but …”: Raja Rao’s “Kanthapura” and the Religious Imagination of the Indian, Secular, Nationalist Middle Class; Chapter 4: The Missing Mahatma: Ahmed Ali and the Aesthetics of Muslim Anticolonialism; Chapter 5: The Grammar of the Gandhians: Jayaprakash Narayan and the Figure of Gandhi; Chapter 6: The Mahatma Misunderstood: The Arrested Development of the Nationalist Dialectic; Conclusion: Dangerous Solidarities; Notes; Bibliography; Index 

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