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A Science Fiction in a Gothic Scaffold: a Reading of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Zinia Mitra, Nakshalbari College, Darjeeling, India

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Abstract

Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus is a unique blend of two genres: Gothic and science fiction. While it follows the gothic convention of tale within tales, its epistolary framework and keeps intact its unrestrained lengthy articulations, it explores at the same time the innovative marvels of modern science. The fire that Prometheus stole form Zeus to help mankind is ingeniously   replaced in the novel by the spark of electricity. The novel also puts to question some traditional social assumptions.

Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin and Mr Bucket: Mid- Nineteenth-Century Intimations of the Thought-Police

Maria-Ana Tupan , University of Bucharest, Romania

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Abstract

The detective as a literary character was co-fathered within a brief interval from each other by Edgar Allan Poe and Charles Dickens, but Le Chevalier C. Auguste Dupin , who appears in three stories of the former  – “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (1841), “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt” (1842), and “The Purloined Letter” (1844) –  and low-born, illiterate Bucket, who wreaks havoc upon an ancient aristocratic family in Bleak House, were hatched within nests of widely different social and cultural provenance. The American boy treated to the long-established traditions of institutionalized education in the Old World, and the English child worker, whose father was imprisoned for debt, were a Victorian version of the Prince and Pauper plot.  Our new-historicist approach to these early samples of detective fiction seeks to throw light on the discursive negotiations which may be invoked in an explanatory narrative of the polar representations of one and the same professional class shortly after the creation of the metropolitan police.

Dark Side of the Moon: Dickens and the Supernatural

Soumya Chakraborty, Jadavpur University

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Abstract

Quite overshadowed by Dickens the social reformer and Victorian England’s most popular and prolific author, lay Dickens a man fascinated with the occult and the supernatural, a practitioner of mesmerism, a believer in the pseudo-science of phrenology, a man so obsessed with the Gothic that time and again he registered a covert, symbolic re-emergence of it throughout his works. Dickens harboured a lifelong attraction towards the supernatural, evidenced in his childhood fondness for the weekly magazine The Terrific Register, dealing with themes of ghosts, murder, incest and cannibalism, and in the several ghost-stories interspersed throughout the corpus of his work. Deeply involved in the 19th Century debates over the existence of spirits and the veracity of ghost sightings, Dickens oscillated between faith in the existence of the other-worldly and scepticism. Always concerned with the psychological aspect of the supernatural, Dickens’ work shows a constant engagement with the eerie, the uncanny and the grotesque. This paper attempts to explore not only the evolution of the theme of the supernatural in Dickens’ works but also his changing attitudes towards it.

The “Politically Correct Memsahib”: Performing Englishness in Select Anglo-Indian Advice Manuals

S. Vimala, M.G.R. College, Hosur, India

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Abstract

Examining select Anglo-Indian advice manuals written after the Indian Mutiny in 1857and during the ‘high imperialism’ period of the British Raj, the essay proposes that this cultural artefact served the purpose of constructing and naturalizing the English Memsahibs’ gendered racial identity. By reiterating the performance of gender, class and race imperatives to construct a unique identity prerequisite for the Anglo-Indian community as well as the Indian colony, these texts aimed at the crystallization of this identity that will strengthen the idea of the British Raj. Such reiteration- apart from revealing the imperial anxiety of the subversion of the Memsahib identity- were useful to caution the English women new to the colonial environment.  Reading these Anglo-Indian advice manuals produced for the consumption of the Anglo-Indian community, what the essay further proposes is that the performance of gendered-racial identity of the English women in India constituted not only the governance of their bodies and the Anglo-Indian spaces, but also their management of travel and material consumption including food.  Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble and Bodies That Matter provide useful insights to study the performance of the “politically correct Memsahib” identity and its attendant relation to the imagining of the homogenous British Raj.   

Ajitesh Bandopadhay: In the Neighbourhood of Liminality

Rajdeep Konar, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India

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Abstract

In my essay I would like to investigate the shift of paradigms in the relationship between theatre and politics that director, playwright and actor Ajitesh Bandopadhay (1933-83) was bringing into Bengali theatre. I would like to analyze how in the field of theater he was trying to form a threshold space: a threshold where politics and ethics, community and the individual, global and local can exist together as equals not imparting the hegemony of one on the other. How Ajitesh strove to conceive a theatre which puts forth itself as an analytical presence of life and society unmediated by an ideological or ethical regime. I would like to argue that it is in such a liminal presence in theatre, politics and the world; that the key to our future community of equality lie. This would also be an attempt at reclaiming the legacy of Ajitesh, whose influence on Bengali theatre has been hugely underplayed by the rather scanty posthumous attention being paid to his work.

Performance as Protest: Thumri and Tawaif’s Quest for Artistic Autonomy

Shramana Das Purkayasth, Vijaygarh Jyotish Ray College, Kolkata, India

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Abstract

Indian cultural history testifies to the intimate bond the tawaifs had for centuries with the performing arts. Be it the pre-Mughal folk culture of rural India or the highly sophisticated culture of classical music in the Mughal courts, the tawaifs had always remained at the focal point of it. However conservative social paradigm never allowed them to belong to the mainstream Indian society. Concepts of honour, chastity and occupational propriety, with which patriarchy regulates a woman’s individual choices, constrained the tawaif to inhabit a limited space, isolated and solitary, alluring, yet infamous. In the present paper, I propose to explore how thumri reflects the tawaif’s own consciousness of her contradictory status as an outcast as well as an artist, indispensable to India’s musical heritage. Through a detailed structural analysis of the genre, I would discuss how the textual world of thumri with its distinctive formal and performative peculiarities supplies the tawaif with a potentially subversive “action repertoire”, enabling the nautch-girl to voice her desperate demand for autonomy.

Tipu Sultan and the Politics of Representation in Three 19th Century English novels

Ayusman Chakraborty, Jadavpur University, India

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 Abstract

Tipu Sultan was the ruler of the native state of Mysore. His fierce opposition to British rule in India earned him unrivalled notoriety in England. Colonial writings usually portray him as a cruel tyrant who tortured Indians and Englishmen alike. This article studies the representation of Tipu Sultan in three nineteenth century English novels – The Surgeon’s Daughter by Sir Walter Scott, Tippoo Sultaun: A Tale of the Mysore Wars by Captain Meadows Taylor, and The Tiger of Mysore by G. A. Henty . In these works, Tipu is painted in an extremely unfavourable light. Arguing that the politics of imperialism influences such representations, this article tries to show how the depiction of Tipu as a monstrous villain served to justify British rule in India. These novels seem to suggest that the British deserve credit for rescuing Indians from such egregious villain. The article also focuses on politicization of Tipu’s dead body. Colonial art and literature constantly return to the scene where Tipu’s body is discovered by his enemies. This article argues that colonial imagination converts Tipu’s corpse to a ‘grisly trophy’ which becomes a sign of British triumph over Oriental despotism.

In ‘prison-house of love’[i]: The Bad Girl and bad girls of Mario Vargas Llosa

Tajuddin Ahmed

Netaji Subhas Ashram Mahavidyalaya, India

Volume 2, Number 3, 2010Download PDF Version

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v2n3.09

Abstract

Mario Vargas Llosa’s recent novel The Bad Girl centers around a sexually liberated woman who is in search of individual emancipation through transgressions of all social norms. The issue of female sexuality and its relation with woman liberation occupies an important and debatable position in Feminist discourse. Llosa’s own attitude to liberated female sexuality had been an ambivalent one. In this paper I would like analyse and explore the question of woman’s liberation in the novel of Mario Vargas Llosa, taking into account the major conflicting Feminist discourses as well as the presence and erasure of female sexuality in the history of Latin American novels. 

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