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Critique and Utopia in Postcolonial Historical FictionAtlantic and Other Worlds$
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Greg Forter

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198830436

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198830436.001.0001

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Cartographies of the Untimely in Postcolonial Historical Realism

Cartographies of the Untimely in Postcolonial Historical Realism

Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger and Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies

Chapter:
(p.29) 1 Cartographies of the Untimely in Postcolonial Historical Realism
Source:
Critique and Utopia in Postcolonial Historical Fiction
Author(s):

Greg Forter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198830436.003.0001

Barry Unsworth’s Sacred Hunger and Amitav Ghosh’s Sea of Poppies develop cognitive-affective maps of empire that reveal its totalizing ambitions. They deploy realist techniques to do so while displaying an intense self-consciousness about such techniques’ limitations. The maps they draw link the Atlantic world (and slavery) with the Indian Ocean (and indentured servitude). This angle of vision moves the historical novel’s frame of reference beyond both the nation and the mono-oceanic paradigms that have emerged as alternatives to nation-based understandings. Finally, and drawing especially on the work of Dipesh Chakrabarty, the chapter shows that the novels retrieve from historicist time the inassimilable, heterotemporal residues of utopian alternatives to the colonial, which draw upon while radically refashioning “premodern” and pre-secular modes of affinity.

Keywords:   realism, historicism, historical novel, colonialism, slavery, Dipesh Chakrabarty, heterotemporality, utopia, Barry Unwsorth, Amitav Ghosh

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