Abstract


GLOCALCOLLOQUIES - Vol 1, Issue 1, May, 2015

All About H. Hatterr – Desani’s ‘Novel Gesture’

Author: Chaudhury, Sarbani

Category: Research

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Abstract:

The paper attempts to trace the contours of Indian Writing in English, especially novels, and to scrutinise G. V. Desani’s single contribution to the genre, namely All About H. Hatterr. Written during World War II and published several times since its first appearance in 1948, this 278 page novel about a severely marginalized Other with a postscript fictional defence of meticulously counted eighty paragraphs anticipates and outdoes Bakhtin in its carnivalesqueheteroglossia, running riot with the language of the colonial masters in a manner that even Salman Rushdie would be proud to equal. The conscious self-reflexivity that begins ‘backwards’ with the travails of ‘printing-shrinting’ (to use a Hatterrism) is reminiscent of Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote with the one difference that while Cervantes’s protagonist constructs his identity within the novel, Desani’sHatterr assembles the fictional space he subsequently inhabits as a series of episodic encounters inevitably culminating in ‘de-construction’ of the indubitable anti-hero. Starting with the ‘self’, Hatterr’s romp from one catastrophe to another debunks everything –

from philosophy to psychoanalysis, literature to religion, morality to masculinity – engendering a hedonistic celebration of all that is politically incorrect. Despite the linguistic and narrative revolution presaged by Hatterr, both his author and his text have been relegated to relative oblivion in the annals of Indian Writing in English. My article humbly endeavours to re-discover this wayward maverick of Indian English of whom T. S. Eliot says, “In all my experience, I have

not met with anything like it.”

Keywords: marginal antihero, self-reflexive narrative, carnivalesque debunking of self, linguistic and generic affiliation, re-writing/righting Indian Writing in English.

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