Submission note: "A thesis submitted in total fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy [to the] School of Communication, Arts and Critical Enquiry, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Bundoora"
In my thesis I examine representations of Indira Gandhi’s first premiership (1966-1977) in the Indian English novels of the 1980s and 1990s. My thesis discusses how Indira Gandhi’s politics and the historical events that took place in India under her watch have been assessed and written about in Indian English novels. The novels under examination are Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children (1981), Shashi Tharoor’s The Great Indian Novel (1989), Nayantara Sahgal’s Rich Like Us (1985), and Rohinton Mistry’s Such a Long Journey (1991) and A Fine Balance (1995). The main focus of the novels and therefore also of my study is of the 1970s, especially on the personality cult around Indira Gandhi and the disillusionment caused by the darkest hour of the world’s largest democracy, the Emergency. Despite the fact that there have been a number of very well-received novels about the Indira Gandhi years and especially about the Emergency, there have been hardly any studies on them from a politico-historical perspective. My thesis fills this gap and offers new insights on how Indira Gandhi and Indian history and politics from late 1960 till the early 1980s were represented in Indian English novels for the consumption of the growing Indian middle classes as well as for the lucrative Western market and Euro-American readers. I will also look at the novelists’ arguments for and representations of the(ir) idea of the imagined political community that is the Indian nation. I approach my topic from an interdisciplinary perspective combining literary criticism, postcolonial theory and historiography. In the thesis I bring the politics back in my examination of these novels and thus examine them as social and political criticism which reaches all the way to the present day.
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