Nation as Identity in Amitav Ghosh's The Circle of Reason and The Shadow Lines

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Dr. Rekha Tiwari


The terms nations and nationalism despite their common usage, have always been enigmatic terms. The proliferation of theories like post colonialism, multi-culturalism, globalization and post modernism have upheld or defied national identities and boundaries. We are living in the tempestuous uncertainties where on one hand the world is becoming footloose; on the other hand, the same euphoric and hyped cosmopolitanism is hounded by the ghosts of pristine identities. The question of avoiding nations and nationalism and shifting obdurate identities are finding an echo in contemporary literature. Of the contemporary Indian writers of novels in English, Amitav Ghosh happens to be extremely fascinating with his distinctive originality and flair for experimentation. Indeed, as a novelist Amitav Ghosh defies categorization because in each new novel he has shifted his perspective and in the process has moved from one genre to another, exploring diverse subjects and forms such as cultural history, science travel and reportage. The present paper attempts to examine his portrayal of diasporic situations and the impacts of the force of globalization in The Circle of Reasons and the The Shadow Lines, the writers first two novels, for it seems that national boundaries and diasporic thoughts have assumed a central importance in the construction of the novels. Migration and dislocation, indubitably are strikingly significant phenomena of the present time. They truly and effectively depict the postcolonial society as well as people’s postmodern predicament. Like many of his contemporaries, Amitav Ghosh perhaps believes that no culture is self- contained. Nor can any culture exist in isolation. His stories as such move over countries and continents. The characters go beyond their national boundaries and incidents extend across several locations.


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Dr. Rekha Tiwari. “Nation As Identity in Amitav Ghosh’s The Circle of Reason and The Shadow Lines”. The Creative Launcher, vol. 3, no. 6, Feb. 2019, pp. 1-10,


Dixon, Robert. "Travelling in the West: The Writing of Amitav Gosh". Ed. Tabish Khair. Amitav Ghosh: A Critical Companion. Delhi: Permanent Black, 2003, p. 10.

Ghosh, Amitav. The Circle of Reason. New Delhi: Ravi Dayal/Permanent Black, 1986, p. 26-27.

Ghosh, Amitav. The Shadow Lines. With Critical Essays by A.N. Kaul, Suvir Kaul, Meenakshi Mukherjee, R.S. Rajan. Ed. New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1995, p. 299.

Ghosh, Amitav. The Shadow Lines. New Delhi: Ravi Dayal Publisher, 1988, p. 78