A Postcolonial Reading of Amitav Ghosh’s River Of Smoke
The present form of postcolonial writing has emanated from the nationalistic fervour that prompted to break the news of suffering natives at the hands of colonizers. The present postcolonial writing characterized by an urge to claim their historical position in the development of this ‘globalized’ times. Definition of the ‘post-colonial’ of course vary widely, but the concept proves most useful not when it is used synonymously with a post-independence historical period in once colonized nations, but rather once it locates a specifically anti-or post-colonial discursive purchase in culture, one which begins at the moment that colonial power inscribes itself onto the body and space of its others ANd that continues as a typically occulted tradition into the fashionable theatre of neo-colonialist negotiation. River of Smoke is a rare amalgamation of historical documentation and individual narrative. The novel is set against the backdrop of the epoch-making opium war that resulted in an unprecedented awakening of Chinese people. Bahram’s rationality is charged by the greed which he attempts to sweep under the carpet. As he is a colonial employ his profit lies in the profit of his masters. Being a pawn on the colonial chessboard Bahram could be seen as a prototype of colonial ploy that is set by the colonizers against his own people. Also, the Eurocentric ideology of controlling a country through trade is quite explicit in this novel. Because of the imperialists’ interference in the Chinese economy, China had to face market failure. Thus this very endeavour of preserving one’s culture in face of exploitation and oppression is a sort of resistance which the post-colonialists ask for. And River of smoke truly proves to be a postcolonial novel by depicting such resistance against British imperialism, purity of race and linguistic monopoly of English with its celebration of multiculturalism and multilingualism.
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