Forms of relation: the western literary canon and Orhan Pamuk's the Black Book, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children
Aktar, Merve (2008) Forms of relation: the western literary canon and Orhan Pamuk's the Black Book, Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children. [Thesis]
Official URL: http://192.168.1.20/record=b1266186 (Table of Contents)
Critical theory produced on the literatures ranging from Latin America to the Middle East and Southeast Asia largely focuses on how literary texts reflect the sociopolitical violence experienced in the cultural struggle against Euro-American imperialism and the imposition of capitalist economy. In this system, the ‘peripheral’ texts which aesthetically engage with works from the western literary canon and do not necessarily foreground the politics of oppression are not considered ‘third world’ texts but are placed in the more ambiguous category of ‘world literature’. However, this ‘favorable’ exclusion does not seem to bring the particular texts in question very much closer to western literary canonic affiliation. This paper has brought two such examples of world literature to the foreground—Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children and Orhan Pamuk’s The Black Book—with the intentions of comparing the relations between their plots and stylistic characteristics with, basically, the formal structures denoted by the “five common denominators” (Gugelberger, 517) of Third World Literature. In doing such a comparison, the main aim has not been to show the problematics of first and third world literary categorizations as that is already an acknowledged phenomenon by western literary theorists including Gugelberger and Jameson, whose views are prioritized here. Instead, working from a set of standard denominators gradually led to a much broader critical platform exploring the aesthetic and structural forms of relation between non-western literature and the western literary canon. The methodology involved analysis of the two structural basics of literature in particular, allegory and allusion. By construing how the literary devices of allegory and allusion worked in the two texts by Pamuk and Rushdie, one was able to see the loci of western literary canonic influences and the unique textual responses to these influences. In addition to studying the texts’ problematizations of allegory, allusion was studied using two approaches: the ‘postcolonial’ technique of literary cannibalism, and the more western ‘postmodern’ definition of allusion with its accompanying use of irony. Through these two approaches, there emerged awareness of a multidimensional anxiety of influence manifested in different forms in Pamuk and Rushdie’s works.
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