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‘Seeing Double’: Exploring the Flâneur’s Gaze in Amit Chaudhuri’s A New World

Sovan Chakraborty1 & Nagendra Kumar2

1Research Scholar in English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences of Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Email: sovantamluk08@gmail.com. 2Professor of English in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences of Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee. Email: naguk20@gmail.com

Volume 8, Number 3, 2016 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v8n3.15

Received May 30, 2016; Revised July 15, 2016; Accepted July 30, 2016; Published August 18, 2016


Abstract

The present paper explores the ambivalent existence of a modern urban figure, a flâneur, who is caught between the processes of grand and spectacular modernization and the gradual but uncertain withdrawal of the self from the external ‘reality’ through Amit Chaudhuri’s celebrated fiction A New World. The continuous ‘shocks of the new’ that the urban ‘advancement’ bombards upon the senses of a flâneur, develops a highly personal psychopathology in him/her. Georg Simmel calls this symptom a blasé outlook – a psychic structure characterized by sheer impersonality, which gives birth to an attitude of almost complete indifference towards the socio-political processes outside. The flâneur’s observation of a city remains always informed by a double vision – seeing yet disbelieving. Both the identity and the gaze of a flâneur keep on swinging incessantly between a modernity that creates a desire to become a developed subject and a subjectivity that is dismantled by an array of unfulfilled dreams beyond the scope of any premeditated determinism.

 Keywords: blasé, flâneur, Georg Simmel, semiotic difference, urban modernity, Amit Chaudhuri

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