Chimeras of Form

Modernist Internationalism Beyond Europe, 1914–2016

Aarthi Vadde

Columbia University Press

Chimeras of Form

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Pub Date: December 2016

ISBN: 9780231180245

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $60.00

Pub Date: December 2016

ISBN: 9780231542562

288 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $59.99

Chimeras of Form

Modernist Internationalism Beyond Europe, 1914–2016

Aarthi Vadde

Columbia University Press

In Chimeras of Form, Aarthi Vadde vividly illustrates how modernist and contemporary writers reimagine the nation and internationalism in a period defined by globalization. She explains how Rabindranath Tagore, James Joyce, Claude McKay, George Lamming, Michael Ondaatje, and Zadie Smith use modernist literary forms to develop ideas of international belonging sensitive to the afterlife of empire. In doing so, she shows how this wide-ranging group of authors challenged traditional expectations of aesthetic form, shaping how their readers understand the cohesion and interrelation of political communities.

Drawing on her close readings of individual texts and on literary, postcolonial, and cosmopolitical theory, Vadde examines how modernist formal experiments take part in debates about transnational interdependence and social obligation. She reads Joyce's use of asymmetrical narratives as a way to ask questions about international camaraderie, and demonstrates how the "plotless" works of Claude McKay upturn ideas of citizenship and diasporic alienation. Her analysis of the contemporary writers Zadie Smith and Shailja Patel shows how present-day issues relating to migration, displacement, and economic inequality link modernist and postcolonial traditions of literature. Vadde brings these traditions together to reveal the dual nature of internationalism as an aspiration, possibly a chimeric one, and an actual political discourse vital to understanding our present moment.
Vadde has written a supple, incisive, and richly thoughtful book. In smart and sophisticated readings, she rigorously thinks through modernist and postcolonial fiction's relation to the ingredients it collages, and she brilliantly illuminates such fiction's relation to an increasingly globalized world. Jahan Ramazani, author of Poetry and Its Others: News, Prayer, Song, and the Dialogue of Genres
Chimeras of Form contributes richly and originally to the current remapping of modernism within non-eurocentric, international, and postcolonial coordinates across the twentieth century. Vadde eloquently argues that many modernist texts consciously enter the breach between these apparent oppositions. This book is a rare achievement, and one that will prompt new questions and productive debates in the field of modernist studies. Laura Doyle, author of Freedom's Empire: Race and the Rise of the Novel in Atlantic Modernity, 1640–1940
With extraordinary subtlety and flair, Aarthi Vadde charts modernist internationalism as a persistent and shifting impulse toward experimentation in fictions that 'stretch the range of the sayable' in their chimeric, even confounding, depictions of the complexities of social life. Her deft readings will transform the way we understand the unexpected routes between modernism and postcolonialism to the point where those terms can no longer be taken as distinct categories tethered to period and geography. Brent Hayes Edwards, author of The Practice of Diaspora: Literature, Translation, and the Rise of Black Internationalism
Vadde's expansive, sophisticated, and timely analysis unsettles conventional divisions between formalism and postcolonialism, nationalism and cosmopolitanism, realism and utopianism, and Europe and its others. Through masterful readings, she demonstrates how in form and content Tagore, Joyce, McKay, Lamming, Ondaatje, and Zadie Smith disrupt given understandings of territory, community, unity, and belonging. Vadde persuasively reveals the importance of literary modernism for imagining nonnational forms of sociability, solidarity, and citizenship. Gary Wilder, author of Freedom Time: Negritude, Decolonization, and the Future of the World
Vadde's contribution is her remarkable insight into the 'chimeral' forms of global modernism. These forms don't flaunt triumphal cosmopolitanism in the face of outmoded nationalisms. Rather they foreground the artificial and recycled style of posttraumatic globalization—after the ongoing displacements of the previous century. Such global coexistence is precarious and makeshift, and also more livable. Leela Gandhi, author of Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin-de-Siècle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Chimeras of Form
1. Autotranslations: Rabindranath Tagore's Internationalism in Circulation
2. Alternating Asymmetry: International Solidarity and Self-Deception in James Joyce's Dubliners and "Cyclops"
3. Stories Without Plots: The Nomadic Collectivism of Claude McKay and George Lamming
4. Archival Legends: National Myth and Transnational Memory in the Works of Michael Ondaatje
5. Root Canals: Zadie Smith's Scales of Injustice
Epilogue: Migritude—The Re-mediated Work of Art and Art's Mediating Work
Notes
Bibliography
Index

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About the Author

Aarthi Vadde is the Andrew W. Mellon Assistant Professor of English at Duke University.