The cultural geography of Malgudi

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A comment by Narayan on the “false geography” of his “imaginary town” provides the departure-point for a discussion of Malgudi, which argues against the frequently held view that it is a metonym for a quintessential India, or South India. Taking its cue from the cultural geographer Doreen Massey's assertion that “The identities of places are always unfixed, contested and multiple”, the paper contends that Malgudi is a multifaceted and transitional site, an interface between older conceptions of “authentic” Indianness and contemporary views that stress the ubiquity and inescapability of change in the face of modernity. It argues that Malgudi is far more than a physical locus, viewing it as an episteme that incorporates numerous ways of perceiving India — social, spiritual, mythological and psychological among them. Focusing on Narayan's representation of heterotopias, it considers the demarcations between “pure” and “polluted” space in The English Teacher, the simultaneity of different layers of Indian culture in The Financial Expert and the contrast between Malgudi and a larger Indian world in The Painter of Signs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-126
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Commonwealth Literature
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007

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