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The Event of Postcolonial Shame : Translation/Transnation - Timothy Bewes

The Event of Postcolonial Shame


Paperback Published: 26th December 2010
ISBN: 9780691141664
Number Of Pages: 240

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In a postcolonial world, where structures of power, hierarchy, and domination operate on a global scale, writers face an ethical and aesthetic dilemma: How to write without contributing to the inscription of inequality? How to process the colonial past without reverting to a pathology of self-disgust? Can literature ever be free of the shame of the postcolonial epoch--ever be truly postcolonial? As disparities of power seem only to be increasing, such questions are more urgent than ever. In this book, Timothy Bewes argues that shame is a dominant temperament in twentieth-century literature, and the key to understanding the ethics and aesthetics of the contemporary world.

Drawing on thinkers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon, Theodor Adorno, and Gilles Deleuze, Bewes argues that in literature there is an "event" of shame that brings together these ethical and aesthetic tensions. Reading works by J. M. Coetzee, Joseph Conrad, Nadine Gordimer, V. S. Naipaul, Caryl Phillips, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, and Zoe Wicomb, Bewes presents a startling theory: the practices of postcolonial literature depend upon and repeat the same structures of thought and perception that made colonialism possible in the first place. As long as those structures remain in place, literature and critical thinking will remain steeped in shame.

Offering a new mode of postcolonial reading, "The Event of Postcolonial Shame" demands a literature and a criticism that acknowledge their own ethical deficiency without seeking absolution from it.

"Bewes has established himself as a leading theorist of negative affect... Bewes's account of the materialization of shame that is less communicative than affective, and thus potentially transformative, should interest readers across the humanities and social sciences."--Choice "Whether one finds that Bewes's move to the structural level opens up new horizons for literary study or abstracts too decisively from historical situatedness will depend on one's theoretical inclinations. For readers of either proclivity, however, his intelligent and original book is likely to elicit a lively and engaged response."--Michael Rothberg, Project Muse "Bewes book constitutes a welcome and original intervention in postcolonial theory, and the questions he asks go to the heart of the postcolonial dilemma... These questions are crucial, and Bewes' vision of 'a writing freed from the shaming, subtractive consciousness of a being who writes' surely points us in the right direction."--Ursula Kluwick, Project Muse "Compelling, probing, and conceptually masterful."--David James, Twentieth-Century Literature "There is much to be said in praise of Bewes' achievement in this work. The theoretical structure he proposes is outlined with admirable clarity in its opening sections, in clear prose that should be a model for academic writing. Each chapter refines and embellishes this theoretical structure, building logically on the work of preceding chapters and towards those that follow. Each theoretical innovation is elucidated through a textual encounter, and in each case the result is a strikingly original reading of a canonical postcolonial novel... What he provides us with here is nothing less than a groundbreaking new theory of the novel."--Tom Langley, Interventions

Acknowledgmentsp. ix
Prologuep. 1
The Form of Shamep. 9
Shame as Formp. 11
Form and Disjunction: A Recent Historyp. 15
Primo Levi's The Drowned and the Savedp. 20
Three Preliminary Thesesp. 23
Postcolonial Shame and the Novelp. 41
Shame, Ventriloquy, and the Problem of the Cliché:p. 49
Precipitation of Shamep. 53
The Materiality of Postcolonial Shamep. 56
Cambridge and Crossing the Riverp. 61
The Poetics of Impossibilityp. 66
The Time of Shamep. 73
The Shame of Belatedness: Late Style in V.S. Naipaulp. 75
Being and Belatednessp. 78
Late Style in Adornop. 82
Liber solemnis: The Enigma of Arrivalp. 87
Crystal of Shame: The Mimic Menp. 94
Shame and Revolutionary Betrayal: Joseph Conrad, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Zoë Wicombp. 100
Hegel: Text as Antitextp. 103
Joseph Conrad: Form as the Evacuation of Formp. 108
Ngugi wa Thiong'o: The Imminence of Betrayalp. 115
Zoë Wicomb: The Difference of the Samep. 123
Alain Badiou: Subtraction versus Realizationp. 128
The Event of Shamep. 135
The Event of Shame in J. M. Coetzeep. 137
The Problem of "Agency"p. 138
Two Shames in Coetzeep. 142
Diary of a Bad Yearp. 146
The New Directionp. 150
Positively White: Slow Man and Corporeal Shamep. 153
Shame and Subtraction: Towards Postcolonial Writingp. 164
The Origins of This Book: Michel Leirisp. 167
Deleuze and Sartrep. 169
Subtractionp. 173
Louis Malle's L'Inde fantômep. 178
Towards Postcolonial Writingp. 187
Notesp. 193
Indexp. 219
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780691141664
ISBN-10: 0691141665
Series: Translation/Transnation
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 240
Published: 26th December 2010
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.86 x 15.24  x 1.91
Weight (kg): 0.34