Showing posts with label to the lighthouse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label to the lighthouse. Show all posts

Friday 2 April 2021

India in the Twentieth Century European Literature

 India in the Twentieth Century European Literature

a. Rudyard Kipling: Kim (1901)

b. E M Forster: A Passage to India (1924)

c. T S Eliot: The Waste Land (1918-22)

d. Herman Hesse: Siddhartha (1922)

e. Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse (1927)

f. H.G. Wells: Around the World in Eighty Days (1872-73)

Rudyard Kipling: Kim (1901)

Kipling’s ideal  of imperialism in India was that of a paternalistic, quasi-feudal imperial one. As “legitimate” and benevolent rulers, the British took a privileged position at the top of the social chain with a systematic mode of government . Kipling could have easily been influenced by the spreading ideal of social Darwinism, a societal spin on Darwin’s order of the natural world. For Kipling, hierarchy was natural and was determined by survival of the fittest. Imperialism could not be corrupt to Kipling, because social order is fated, therefore moral.

In Kim, it is obvious that Kipling did not see imperialism as any type of disruption, exploitation, or subjugation, but as economic development and moral enlightenment for India. In the novel, working as a spy for the British Empire and looking for spiritual harmony work side-by-side. British rule is never challenged; instead Kipling uses several minor characters strictly for the purpose of advocating British rule. Although Kipling shows a knowledge of a number of Indian languages and the capability of using many voices, there is no variety of viewpoint. All voices hold one style and one dominant point of view in favor of British imperialism. Kipling’s use of Indian words and phrases lacks any attempt to represent the their cultural specificity. 

(Gopen, Shina. 'Rudyard Kipling'.

E M Forster: A Passage to India (1924)
The story of A Passage to India hinges on a rape that never was. A white young woman accuses a charming Indian Muslim doctor of having assaulted her in a dark cave during a picnic, but at the trial of the accused a few weeks later, she goes to the witness box and says she cannot be sure and is withdrawing all charges.
Forster here boldly reverses many Raj stereotypes. The race-and-rape narrative had been common in English novels about India ever since the “Mutiny” of 1857 when several such incidents were believed to have happened. The trope of an oppressed ill-treated native raping a woman of the master race in a token act of revenge for the greater crime of the coloniser having raped his country had been inaugurated in English literature by Shakespeare in The Tempest (1611). (Trivedi, Harish. The rape that never was: Forster and ‘A Passage to India’)

Virginia Woolf: To the Lighthouse (1927)

Herman Hesse: Siddhartha (1922)

H.G. Wells: Around the World in Eighty Days (1872-73)

Friday 25 September 2015

India in Virginia Woolf's Lighthouse

How is India represented in ‘To The Lighthouse’?

India is referred 6 times in the novel. (The blog is a draft. . .  will be updated soon with detailed interpretation of the representation of India in the novel)

Here are the lines and the context in which they are mentioned:

Apart from the habit of exaggeration which they had from her, and from the implication (which was true) that she asked too many people to stay, and had to lodge some in the town, she could not bear incivility to her guests, to young men in particular, who were poor as church mice, “exceptionally able,” her husband said, his great admirers, and come there for a holiday. Indeed, she had the whole of the other sex under her protection; for reasons she could not explain, for their chivalry and valour, for the fact that they negotiated treaties, ruled India, controlled finance; finally for an attitude towards herself which no woman could fail to feel or to find agreeable, something trustful, childlike, reverential; which an old woman could take from a young man without loss of dignity, and woe betide the girl—pray Heaven it was none of her daughters!—who did not feel the worth of it, and all that it implied, to the marrow of her bones!
Reference: India is ruled by the men-folk.

2) She was now formidable to behold, and it was only in silence, looking up from their plates, after she had spoken so severely about Charles Tansley, that her daughters, Prue, Nancy, Rose—could sport with infidel ideas which they had brewed for themselves of a life different from hers; in Paris, perhaps; a wilder life; not always taking care of some man or other; for there was in all their minds a mute questioning of deference and chivalry, of the Bank of England and the Indian Empire, of ringed fingers and lace, though to them all there was something in this of the essence of beauty, which called out the manliness in their girlish hearts, and made them, as they sat at table beneath their mother’s eyes, honour her strange severity, her extreme courtesy, like a queen’s raising from the mud to wash a beggar’s dirty foot, when she admonished them so very severely about that wretched atheist who had chased them—or, speaking accurately, been invited to stay with them—in the Isle of Skye.
Reference: India is exotic place where lies great romance, adventure and happiness

3) Holding her black parasol very erect, and moving with an indescribable air of expectation, as if she were going to meet some one round the corner, she told the story; an affair at Oxford with some girl; an early marriage; poverty; going to India; translating a little poetry “very beautifully, I believe,” being willing to teach the boys Persian or Hindustanee, but what really was the use of that?—and then lying, as they saw him, on the lawn.

Reference: Augustus Carmichael’s going to India is considered as some sort of achievement.

4) There were all the places she had not seen; the Indian plains; she felt herself pushing aside the thick leather curtain of a church in Rome
Reference: India is referred as place of desire. . . a desire to visit.

5) They had all the trays of her jewel-case open. The gold necklace, which was Italian, or the opal necklace, which Uncle James had brought her from India; or should she wear her amethysts?

Reference: Made in India jewelry is a thing to be possessed – owned with pride

6) The autumn trees, ravaged as they are, take on the flash of tattered flags kindling in the gloom of cool cathedral caves where gold letters on marble pages describe death in battle and how bones bleach and burn far away in Indian sands.

Reference: Some land which is far away – unknown land, the exotic land.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Worksheet: Virginia Woolf's To The Lighthouse

'To The Lighthouse' is one of the best poetic expressions in Virginia Woolf's literary oeuvre. The novel is deeply layered which opportunes us to explore various interpretations, We have discussed following points in the classroom during face-to-face interaction:

Here are some tasks to be completed by the students as a part of self-learning module: (Students have to give responses in the 'Comment' section below this blog post)

  1. How can you explain that 'what' Virginia Woolf wanted to say (for example, the complexity of human relationship, the everyday battles that people are at in their relationship with near and dear ones, the struggle of a female artist against the values of middle/upper class society etc) can only be said in the way she has said? (Key: The 'How' of the narrative technique is to be discussed along with features of Stream of Consciousness technique which helps Woolf to put in effective manner what she experienced in abstractions.)
  2. Do you agree: "The novel is both the tribute and critique of Mrs. Ramsay"? (Key: Take some clues from the painting of Mrs Ramsay drawn by Lily Briscoe and the article by Andre Viola and Glenn Pedersen. Can we read Mrs. R in context of the idea of Ideal Indian Woman - Karyeshu dasi, Karaneshu manthri; Bhojeshu mata, Shayaneshu rambha; Kshamayeshu dharithri, Roopeshu lakshmi; Satkarma yukta, Kuladharma pathni. )
  3. Considering symbolically, does the Lighthouse stand for Mrs. Ramsay or the narrator (Virginia Woolf herself who is categorically represented by Lily)? (Key: Take help from the presentation on Symbolism to connect Mrs. Caroline Ramsay with Lighthouse. Secondly, the narrator / author cannot fully disappear from the novel and thus the stoicism of Lily to paint and thus prove that she can paint, is symbolically presented in stoicism of Lighthouse. Read 'lighthouse' symbol from presentation slide with this insight to connect lighthouse with the narrator. Give your concluding remarks in the comment below in this blog )
  4. In the article by Joseph Blotner, two myths are patterned together. Name the myths? How they are zeroed down to the symbols of 'Window' and 'Lighthouse'? How does the male phallic symbol represent feminine Mrs. Ramsay? (Key: The strokes of light-beams. . . )
  5. What do you understand by the German term 'Künstlerroman'? How can you justify that 'To The Lighthouse' is 'Künstlerroman' novel? (Key:
  6. "... the wages of obedience is death, and the daughter that reproduces mothering to perfection, including child-bearing, already has on her cheeks the pallor of death. One reminded here of various texts by Lucy Irigaray, in which she attacks mothers for being, however unwillingly, accomplices in the patriarchal system of oppression." (Viola). In light of this remark, explain briefly Lily's dilemma in 'To The Lighthouse'. 
  7. Movie Screening: Worksheet (Click here to open)
  8. You have compared the 'beginning' and the 'ending' of the novel and the film adaptation of the novel directed by Colin Gregg (you can see it again in the embedded video below this). Do you think that the novel is more poignant than the movie? If yes, do you ascribe the fact that the power of words is much greater than that of the screen / visuals?
  9. How do you interpret the last line of the novel (It was done; it was finished.
    Yes, she thought, laying down her brush in extreme fatigue, I have had my vision.) with reference to the ending of the film (After the final stroke on the canvass with finishing touch, Lily walks inside the house. As she goes ante-chamber, the light and dark shade makes his face play hide-and-seek. She climbs stairs, puts her brush aside, walks through the dark and light to enter her room. Gently closes the door - speaks: "Closed doors, open windows" - lies on the bed and with some sort of satisfaction utters: "Dearest Briscoe, you are a fool".) 
  10. What does the catalogue named as 'Army and Navy' signify? What does cutting of 'Refrigerator'  signify?
  11. Why did Virginia give such prominence to the tale of the “Fisherman’s Wife”? In particular, why did she weave such a misogynist tale into the fabric of a book which so eloquently challenges received patriarchal notions about the roles and capabilities of women? 
  12. How is India represented in 'To The Lighthouse'? (Read this blog for passing reference) 
  13. Write summaries of these articles:
Watch the film 'To The Lighthouse', directed by Clin Greg, written by Hugh Stoddart, Virginia Woolf (novel). 

Watch biographical videos in three parts: 

The Mind and Times of Virginia Woolf, directed by Eric Neal Young, 2002.

Presentations on Symbolism and Stream of Consciousness in 'To The Lighthouse'.

Stream of Consciousness in Virginia Woolf's 'To The Lighthouse' from Dilip Barad

Articles for further reading:

  • Mythic Patterns in to the Lighthouse. Author(s): Joseph L. BlotnerSource: PMLA, Vol. 71, No. 4 (Sep., 1956), pp. 547-562Published by: Modern Language AssociationStable URL:

  • Fluidity versus Muscularity: Lily's Dilemma in Woolf's "To the Lighthouse". Author(s): André ViolaSource: Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 24, No. 2 (Winter, 2000-2001), pp. 271-289Published by: Indiana University PressStable URL:

  • Vision in to the Lighthouse. Author(s): Glenn PedersenSource: PMLA, Vol. 73, No. 5, Part 1 (Dec., 1958), pp. 585-600Published by: Modern Language AssociationStable URL:

  • Color in To the Lighthouse. Author(s): Jack F. StewartSource: Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 31, No. 4 (Winter, 1985), pp. 438-458Published by: Hofstra UniversityStable URL:

  • Language, Subject, Self: Reading the Style of "To the Lighthouse". Author(s): Rebecca SaundersSource: NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, Vol. 26, No. 2 (Winter, 1993), pp. 192-213Published by: Duke University PressStable URL:

  • "These Emotions of the Body": Intercorporeal Narrative in To the Lighthouse. Author(s): Laura DoyleSource: Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Spring, 1994), pp. 42-71Published by: Hofstra UniversityStable URL: