The Mahatma Misunderstood
The Politics and Forms of Literary Nationalism in India
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.
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.
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