Various strands exist in the tangled texture of our plural existence–language, translation, religion, politics, gender, caste, community, films, migration, and nostalgia for a lost home. Elusive Terrain weaves them together in thirteen essays addressing diverse issues pertaining to literature and culture in modern India.
‘Locality of Culture', the first section, examines a few of these strands in the context of the present and looks at literary debates that cut across regional barriers in India. The essays in the second section, ‘Uses of the Past', go back in time to inquire into aspects of religion, the construction of the nation, and forming of community identities that constitute our past.
The concerns reflected in the volume are too elusive to be neatly labelled. Though written at different times, the essays are linked by the point of view of a bilingual Indian reader. Bypassing global categories like ‘postcolonial' or ‘postmodern' they look at the way ideas travel across language and region, and how cultural memory is selectively retrieved.
Written in a simple, reader-friendly style, the volume will appeal not only to scholars and researchers of literature, cultural studies, gender studies and history, but to general readers as well.
Meenakshi Mukherjee Formerly Professor of English at Jawaharlal Nehru University. Her publications include Elusive Terrain (2007) and Realism and Reality: The Novel and Society in India (1999)