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Reading Together

ISBN: 9781137545503 Year: Pages: 18 DOI: 10.1057/978-1-137-54550-3_3 Language: English
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan Grant: H2020 European Research Council - 670876
Subject: Linguistics
Added to DOAB on : 2019-05-09 11:21:02

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Every region of India is and has been multilingual, with speakers ofdifferent languages and speakers of multiple languages. But literary‘multilingual locals’ are often more fragmented than we think. Whilemultilingualism suggests interest, and proficiency, in more than one literarylanguage and tradition, very real barriers exist in terms of written vs. oralaccess, mutual interaction, and social and cultural hierarchies andexclusions. What does it mean to take multilingualism seriously when studyingliterature? One way, this essay suggests, is to consider works on a similartopic or milieu written in the different languages and compare both theirliterary sensibilities and their social imaginings. Rural Awadh offers anexcellent example, as the site of many intersecting processes anddiscourses—of shared Hindu-Muslim sociality and culture and Muslimseparatism, of nostalgia for a sophisticated culture and critique ofzamindari exploitation and socio-economic backwardness, as the home of Urduand of rustic Awadhi. This essay analyses three novels written at differenttimes about rural Awadh—one set before 1947 and the others in the wake ofthe Zamindari Abolition Act of 1950 and the migration of so many Muslimzamindars from Awadh, either to Pakistan or to Indian cities. The first isQazi Abdul Sattar’s Urdu novel Shab gazida (1962), the other two areShivaprasad Singh’s Alag alag vaitarani (1970) and the Awadh subplot inVikram Seth’s A Suitable Boy (1993). Without making them representatives oftheir respective languages, by comparing these three novels I am interestedin exploring how they frame and what they select of Awadh culture, how muchground and sensibility they share, and how they fit within broader traditionsof ‘village writing’ in Hindi, Urdu, and Indian English.


Oral --- tradtion --- local dialect --- tenant --- farmer zamindar --- Urdu --- Hindi

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