Subject and History in Selected Works by Abdulrazak Gurnah, Yvonne Vera and David Dabydeen
The powerful influence of history on the present is an urgent concern in much postcolonial literature. This stydy examines the relation between historical forms and the constitution of the subject in works of three contemporary authors.
Drawing on a range of theoretical elaborations, it presents readings of nine works of fiction: Abdulrazak Gurnah's Admiring Silence (1996), By the Sea (2001) and Desertion (2005); Yvonne Vera's Without a Name (1994), Butterfly Burning (1998) and The Stone Virgins (2002); David Dabydeen's Disappearance (1993), Turner (1994) and A Harlot's Progress (1999). It charts the subtle ways in which history permeates language, emotions and even bodies in the fiction, but also proposes that the text can be regarded as creative enterprises that envision alternative forms of subjectivity. The terms "entanglement", "movement" and " creative amnesia", drawn from the fiction, are used to label the methods the text employ in this project.
While each chapter emphasises the specificity of each text through careful contextualisation, the study as a whole establishes a number of similarities and resonances between them. In this way it contributes to a mapping of contemporary cultural expression that recognises its mobile character.