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Resistance Centre Stage


Dhananjay Rai

THEORISING RESISTANCE: NARRATIVES IN HISTORY AND POLITICS
By Jasbir Jain
Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 2014, pp. xvi 224, Rs. 625.00

VOLUME XXXVIII NUMBER 4 April 2014

The book under review takes the difficult path of exploring resistance in literature. Resistance stands against conformism. Resistance is disapproval of conformism. It attempts to discontinue ‘obviousness’ and ventures into the oblivion terrain that has been branded as ‘abnormal’. Therefore, ‘theoretical intervention’ on resistance must be applauded.   The book is significant due to the exploration of ‘resistance’ in terms of theorization and realm of practice. The eighteen essays written and presented on different occasions are ‘concerned with violence, power and aggression’ along ‘with acts of resistance and the counter-discourses which come to constitute a parallel historical discourse’ (p. xi). Jain is aware of the intrinsic value of resistance and the difference between resistance and terrorism. The exploratory realm of resistance herein is literature or creativity. Resistance is valued for the act of living and for maintaining balance amidst extremism. Shades of resistance do vary. Exile is also a form of resistance. Resistance amidst creativity is important. Resistance signals that society is not dying and helps to understand the reality while cleansing obscurants.   Jain argues that resistance discourse must be freed from postcoloniality and be placed within the aesthetics of literature. It need not be a militant one and may include subtleties of literary expressions like humour, farce, anguish and despair—Text and interpretations are sites of resistance—even the narration of a failed dream.   This theoretical backdrop acts as a springboard in evaluating the remaining concerns in eleven essays. Anand Math of Bankim Chandra and Hind Swaraj of M.K. Gandhi are contrasting in nature vis-à-vis resistance. The code used by Anand Math is abstinence. It is shaped by mother-son relationship for preparation of warfare and nationhood. In Gandhi’s case, abstinence is used for self-reflection and soul force.   History and literature are significant to exhibit or capture the past. Literature takes care of lived realities and its abstract questions encompass justice and morality. Interestingly, history and literature have come together to capture the nuanced complexities of our lives. ‘Historical subconscious’ with regard to colonial struggle is explored in Titu Mir (Mahasweta Devi, 2003), Zindaginama (Krishna Sobti, 1979), Goverdhan’s Travels (Anand, 1995, translated 2006). Success and failures of the Indian past and epistemologies are captured through a philosophical construct in Anand’s novel. Community constitutes a central concern in Sobti’s Zindagnama which encompasses numerous cultural pasts. Many subtleties of relationships, revenge motifs cannot be discerned through historical record. The artefact of ...


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