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South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century BritainCulture in Translation$
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Ruvani Ranasinha

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207770

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207770.001.0001

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Shifting Conditions: The Changing Markets for South Asian Writing in Britain during the Twentieth Century

Shifting Conditions: The Changing Markets for South Asian Writing in Britain during the Twentieth Century

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 Shifting Conditions: The Changing Markets for South Asian Writing in Britain during the Twentieth Century
Source:
South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain
Author(s):

Ruvani Ranasinha

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207770.003.0002

This chapter offers a broad literary and structural history of South Asian Anglophone writing published in Britain. Early writers like Mulk Raj Anand and Nirad Chaudhuri need to be seen in terms of modernist traditions, rather than what one might call the current literary apartheid of examining black and white modernist writers separately. For Anand, Raja Rao, and others, English was a weapon, as well as a key to the ideological arsenal in the struggle for independence: their writings in English reflected their emergent nationalism. Drawing on previously unpublished correspondence between Rao and his publisher Allen and Unwin, this chapter documents how Rao was requested to erase his cultural origins in his work so that he could assimilate and be accepted by the centre. Such demands are part of the metropolitan expectation for minority writers to conform to ‘universalist’ criteria. This amounts to a Eurocentrism, masked as the ‘universality’ of the human condition that neglects the local socio-political context of the country of ‘origin’ and conceals the refusal of Western audiences to engage with the unfamiliar.

Keywords:   Anglophone writing, Britain, South Asia, Mulk Raj Anand, Nirad Chaudhuri, Raja Rao, nationalism, Eurocentrism, Allen and Unwin, minority writers

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