Tentative Title: Reading ‘Difference’ in the Fiction about Partition of Bengal (1947) in Bangla and English: A Comparative Study

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Ananya Dutta


The Partition of Bengal in 1947 was a political-historical event that generated great literary production in many languages, specifically in Bangla and English. Partition fiction in Bangla is a cross border phenomenon, while Partition fiction in English has relayed the experiences of the Partition at a global level. In spite of the apparent similarity of categorization of the Partition narratives in both English and Bangla as being constituted through the narrativization of the experience of the Partition of Bengal in language, it must be noted that language itself is a medium of difference. The paper proposes to perform a comparative study between Partition fiction written in English and Partition fiction written in Bangla, and understand how the two differ from each other in their literary interpretation of the political-historical event of the Partition of Bengal in 1947.

Difference as a fundamental existential condition had been established by Edmund Husserl in his conception of the world through the I-thou relationship. But he had emphasized that a shared horizon of the world formed the backdrop of the I-thou relationship. Maurice Merleau-Ponty extended this idea of Husserl in his Phenomenology of Perception to ideate the presence of intertwining worlds in the relationship of difference between the self and the other. Eventually it was Hans-Georg Gadamer who suggested the existence of horizons beyond the shared worlds of experiences that could be used to understand the relationship between the self and the other.

The evolution of perception of difference is crucial to my proposed paper as I want to point out that Partition Fiction in Bangla and Partition Fiction in English belong to different literary horizons. Literary horizon will be elaborated in the paper as literary histories, intentionality of the authors, and the targeted readership in each language. Select novels on the Partition of Bengal of 1947 in Bangla and English will be analyzed to show the difference in their constitution, interpretation, and reception in each language.

Published: Nov 14, 2022

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Individual Sessions: Words and Images Crossing Literary and Critical Borders