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Prose of the WorldModernism and the Banality of Empire$
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Saikat Majumdar

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156950

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156950.001.0001

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The Uneventful

The Uneventful

Chapter:
(p.169) Epilogue The Uneventful
Source:
Prose of the World
Author(s):

Saikat Majumdar

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231156950.003.0005

This chapter considers one of the great challenges of modernist fiction, i.e. to find a narrative aesthetic of the ordinary and the nonevent, a concern it has intriguingly shared with the methods of historical narration in the twentieth century. The banal is more than the mere lack of event—it marks a cultural lacuna that, in the final instance, embodies a perceived exclusion from historical progress. It is argued that banality and boredom stifle the possibilities of catharsis with the same intensity with which violence, brutality, and trauma drive the suffering subject toward it; the denial of catharsis poses a moral ambiguity before the aesthetic chronicler of the postcolonial experience. The spectacle of the event, on the other hand, offers the fullness of catharsis, of trauma as well as celebration, emerging as the normative model of fictional narration for the colonial and postcolonial writer. That the narrative of the spectacle continues to overshadow the prose of the world is scarcely surprising, but it is also, as this study has sought to show, something of a loss for all of us.

Keywords:   banality, boredom, ordinary, event, aesthetic form, postcolonial experience, modernist fiction, narrative aesthetic

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