Cultural Identity, Literature Criticism
Why is the canon challenged?
Ans: Canon refers to a traditional core of literature. In literature some works are usually taken as great, valuable and timeless. Such works are repeated in universities and academic sectors. Literary canon is the result of tradition. Different literature have different literary canon, canon exist in literature without any formalize pattern and criteria.
In case of English literature, we have some literary personalities and their works- which have often regarded as the literary canon. Literary canon is the continuation of literary tradition. According to T.S Eiliot, individual talent is already under the impression of tradition. For him, a poet does not practice new art but he uses different materials in the same art. A poet who has sufficient individual talent must be aware of the mind of Europe, mind of his own country and mind of his socialization. In case of poetry, it I believed that poets are male and most of them are European. Canon is a restriction that blocks entry of new text and new writers. When we talk about English literature, it is fully controlled by white male writers. Similarly, literary canon is tight; it does not allow easier entry of new literary persons and their texts. Recently in English literature, women’s writing and African-American writing has got some space. Even some black writers and some other women novelists have got entry into literary canon. Time and again canon has been challenged, threatened and destroyed but there is no final end of literary canon.
We must challenge the canon. Different people have different interests and fashion. All the people may not have the same interest on the same literary personality and some selected and repeated texts. There are no universal agreeable criteria to form and formalize literary canon. In English literature without any proper reason, some minors have been excluded. Literary canon is fixed, tight, and restrictive, and it is all the time guided by tradition. To break any literary canon, it is really tough one. The question of canon formation is that what makes particular literature a part of literary canon. With the development of new literary theories and criticisms, canon has been alarmed, attacked and come under threat.
How are writing and cultural identity related to each other?
Ans: Writing has some relation to the culture of community and ethnic groups. Race, ethnicity, and culture are not universal or fixed. They are concepts that have variable definitions. There are no fixed criteria to define some literary characters within fixed racial and ethnic boundaries. Racial identity can be one factor where having literary criticism. But racial identity has no proper grounds because of acculturation or assimilation. Now it has become difficult to recognize somebody as the member of certain racial and ethnic group. With ethnicity and racial identity many more physical, social, enocomical and cultural characteristics have been attributed. Racial identity and genetic qualities are always in the process of dynamic change. That’s why in this age of deconstructions of the theorists have been mentioned in the following ways.
According to Henery Louis Gates, the biological notion of race is a fiction. All the metaphors that we attach to certain characters are fictional metaphors. We have used different words to refer the people of different racial groups and ethnic groups, all these metaphors now cannot have appropriate application in literature. Human language, belief, system, artistic tradition and some others natural attributes have been defined behind the term race. Race has become an easy or common term to associated human socio-cultural characteristic features. Different people of the different world have been defined by the use different linguistic features and physical qualities. These days even the natural differences between two groups of people have become a way for literary writing. For Gates, all these associations are arbitrary. According to Morgan, acculturation and social mixture of different ethnic groups have created a major problem to identify and individual on the basis of race. Now, identification of racial identity requires detail historical investigation. This is the age of deconstruction where human identity is not fixed. That’s why racial identity cannot be accurate, justifiable, agreeable and reliable. Most of the modern writers now cannot exclude the people of minorities from the global village. Here, there we find or know visible differences between two different ethnic groups, when they practice the mainstream language. That’s why cultural identity itself is not sufficient to spate someone from this mass of human race.
What is the post colonial literary theory?
Ans: Post-colonial theory is a new term adopted and recognized within literary studies in higher education. Till today, we do not have common agreeable definition of post-colonial literature and post-colonial literary theory. This new term is confusing about its working area and scope. In this postmodern age, post-colonial literature has been taken as another recent literature and theory. Some literary critics and theories have used this term with the similar pattern of those theories which begin with the word ‘post’. Post colonial theory is similarly taken like that of post-modernism, post-feminism, post-structuralism. Different writers and theorists have defined it in different ways. McClintock does not easily accept the term post-colonial literature. For her, ‘post-colonial’ is simply a successful marketing device. It is just a new group of texts which are waiting to be sold and accepted by institution. It is nothing new and different from other literary theories but it is just a new literary practice awaiting to be a part of universities and academic studies.
Post-colonial literature is defined as the grouping of literatures. It is a discourse that is supposed to include various literary practices of the word. Post-colonial literary theory Includes Third world literature, Common Wealth literature, migrant writing, new literature written in English, Black Literature, diasporic writing and so on. All these groupings literature are not common. This grouping is very loose and more specific as well. The above mentioned literatures do not have common elements and features. Salman Rushdie disagrees with the concept of Common Wealth Literature and its criteria to call any literature Common Wealth.
According to Ashcroft et al., pst colonial literature refers to new literary practices adopted in newly independent countries. According to him, post-colonial literature is the literature that got birth after the period of colonization. Post-colonial literature coves all the cultures affected by the imperial process from the moment of colonization to the present day. Post-colonial literature is the literature of African countries, Australia, Bangladesh, India, Srilanka, Pakistan and some other countries. Even the literature of U.S.A is in the category of post-colonial literature. Elleke Boehmer is South African novelist and literary critic. She identifies migrant writing as a form of post-colonial writing. Post-colonial writing is the includsion of the different styles, historical events, combined with fictional characters, and it is the imitation of different literary techniques handed to the western audience. According to her, post-colonial literature is directed towards the western reader.
Post- colonial wiring has some sort of connection to post-modern literature. Post- colonial literature destroys traditional notion of truth and knowledge.
Explain freedom, censorship, writing and race.
Ans: In white literature a new type of problem has occurred that is freedom of imagination. The white representation of non-white characters is now an additional problem. It is not simply a racist representation. A number of successful fictions by white writers have used major characters from different cultural backgrounds different than white culture. White writers have used non-white characters in different cultural modes and backgrounds. In the name of freedom of imagination, white writers have used black, third world characters in their own way. Such unusual literary representation has appeared on the surface as an additional problem. White writers have totally neglected cultural link of any particular characters and his role in literature. They used their imagination without caring exact cultural history.
According to Lee Maracle, white writers made mistakes creating a false truth about Indian. White writers showed their literary dishonesty. Their imagination was nonsense and it was all against cultural harmony of that cultural group. Maracle feels that literary freedom is dangerous. Freedom in imagination has higher chance of being hostile towards non-whites, including Indian and Third Word characters. Margaret Atwood does not believe in censorship on literary imagination. She feels that writers must be free to write about what any characters who are not of their own social and cultural backgrounds. It means that writer can speak from the perspective of any character. Writers should have rights to speak or write about any culture. But in such conditions, writers form different cultural backgrounds may be wrong in the use of symbolism, vocabulary and texture. Such writing requires close attention to avoid extra scrutinize and resentments.