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Title: Fighting cane and canon : reading Abhimanyu Unnuth's Hindi poetry in and outside of literary Mauritius
Author: Rohatgi, Rashi
Awarding Body: SOAS, University of London
Current Institution: SOAS, University of London
Date of Award: 2012
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Fighting Cane and Canon: Reading Abhimanyu Unnuth's Hindi Poetry In and Outside of Literary Mauritius interrogates the development and persistence of Hindi poetry in Mauritius with a focus on the early poetry of Abhimanyu Unnuth. His second work, The Teeth of the Cactus, brings together questions about the value of history, of relationships forged by labour, and of spirituality in a trenchant examination of a postcolonial people choosing to pursue prosperity in an age of globalization. It captures a distinct point of view - Unnuth's connection to the Hindi language is an unusual reaction to the creolization of the island - but also a common experience: both of Indian immigrants and of the reevaluation of their experience by Mauritians reaching adulthood, as Unnuth did, with the Independence of the Mauritian nation in 1968. I argue that for literary scholars, reading Abhimanyu Unnuth's poetry raises important questions about the methodological assumptions made when approaching so-called marginal postcolonial works - assumptions about translation, language, and canonicity - and that the emerging methodologies of World Literature have much to offer. I test them here, providing the first translation into English of The Teeth of the Cactus and an analysis in which I focus on the relationship between my own perspective, the perspectives of Unnuth's imagined audience, and the perspectives of his actual historical audience. The fading legacy of The Teeth of the Cactus amongst its historical audience signals the decline of a vibrant era where Hindi poetry was central to the nation-building project of Mauritius; poets writing after Unnuth markedly position themselves as diasporic poets, and Unnuth's commitment to being a World Poet diminishes his importance in Mauritius while increasing his importance to literary scholars of World Literature.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral