The Space of the River in Amitav Ghosh's "Sea of Poppies" and "River of Smoke"

Pirhulyieva, Jakhan (26 November 2016). The Space of the River in Amitav Ghosh's "Sea of Poppies" and "River of Smoke" (Unpublished). In: Shifting Grounds: Literature, Culture and Spatial Phenomenologies. Zürich. 25.-27.11.2016.

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River incorporates a movement, a flow, a means of transportation and the essence of the natural environment. It is therefore a space that is multifaceted and mobile in character. Amitav Ghosh, one of the most esteemed Indian authors, in his first two novels of the Ibis trilogy Sea of Poppies (2008) and River of Smoke (2011) recurrently employs the river (the Ganga (Ganges) river and the Pearl river respectively) as a fluid space that is permeated with the overtones of escape, transportation, sexual and social transformation, and colonial trade and oppression. The river in the two novels is intimately intertwined with various human activities which lead to the physical transformation of that space. These changes in the river landscape alter the human perception of it. In other words, the river incorporates a complex socio-natural space. Drawing mainly on the works of Henry Lefebvre and Tim Cresswell, I argue that the river embodies both a social and absolute (natural) space. As a social space, the river is inseparable from social relations. Humans not only physically alter the river, but imbue its space with a symbolic significance as they, for instance, ascribe the myths to the Ganges and the Pearl. This symbolic significance, in turn, encourages certain codes of behaviour from the people. Hence the river becomes a social product. At the same time, the river possesses such physical qualities as the force of its flow and its depth, for example, which enable its space with the ability to dominate humans. Therefore, the river also represents an absolute space – a prehistoric and pre-social space of nature that is put in contrast to social space which is laden with social labour and possesses a history.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Division/Institute:

06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Literature

UniBE Contributor:

Pirhulyieva, Jakhan

Subjects:

400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures

Language:

English

Submitter:

Jakhan Pirhulyieva

Date Deposited:

14 Jun 2017 12:37

Last Modified:

14 Jun 2017 12:37

Uncontrolled Keywords:

Spatial studies in literature, social space, absolute space, river, water spaces, contemporary literature in English.

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/97359

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