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Chimeras of FormModernist Internationalism Beyond Europe, 1914-2016$
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Aarthi Vadde

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231180245

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231180245.001.0001

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Chimeras of Form

Chimeras of Form

(p.1) Introduction Chimeras of Form
Chimeras of Form

Aarthi Vadde

Columbia University Press

The introduction establishes the framework of the book by explaining the conceptual foundations and function of modernist internationalism as it is developed over the course of Chimeras of Form. I guide my inquiry through two quotations - one from Salman Rushdie who coined the phrase “chimeras of form” in The Satanic Verses (1988) and one from political philosopher Thomas Nagel who argues that “the idea of global justice without a world government is a chimera” in “The Problem of Global Justice” (2005). I argue that chimeras of literary form, by pushing the boundaries of legibility and comprehensibility in language, extend the range of possibility in philosophical thought and consequently make it difficult to separate a chimera, defined in Nagel’s sense as an unfounded fantasy, from a chimera, defined in my sense as a site in which the line between the possible and the impossible is in dispute and capable of being redrawn. The tradition of modernist internationalism which the book develops attends to how writers from Rabindranath Tagore to Zadie Smith have pushed the epistemological limits of imagining community and international obligation within the context of an uneven and rapidly globalizing modernity. The introduction situates this large argument of the book within a necessarily selective review of internationalism’s more influential articulations, beginning with the publication of E.H. Carr’s The Twenty Years’ Crisis (1939) during the interwar years and leading into more recent approaches to cosmopolitanism. I argue that these recent cosmopolitan approaches have tried to rid internationalism of the chimeric taint that my study makes a case for restoring.

Keywords:   Modernism, Internationalism, Chimera, Formalism, Postcolonialism, Globalization

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