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‘The Woman in White’ – Readings of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Shashi Deshpande in light of the Rasadhvani

Research project
Pågående forskning
Project owner
institutionen för språk och litteraturer

Short description

Doctoral research project

The aim of the project is to introduce new readings of the two writers Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Shashi Deshpande. My method consists of close readings where I use concepts from the rasadhvani, a classical Indian aesthetic and literary theory which was shaped by various other fields of human arts and knowledge. The initial concept of rasa itself, for example, was originally used in the area of Sanskrit Drama and the adjoining concept of dhvani was borrowed from linguistics.

Aim and method

The aim of the project is to introduce new readings of the two writers Ruth Prawer Jhabvala and Shashi Deshpande. My method consists of close readings where I use concepts from the rasadhvani, a classical Indian aesthetic and literary theory which was shaped by various other fields of human arts and knowledge. The initial concept of rasa itself, for example, was originally used in the area of Sanskrit Drama and the adjoining concept of dhvani was borrowed from linguistics.

The overriding aim is twofold: part of it is devoted to resituating the debate on the two writers in question who have both been categorized as uncongenial to the discipline of postcolonial literature in various ways. But even within the discourse of Literary Studies in general, their work has either been submitted to being slotted into various genres and periods of classical women writers or been evaluated with respect to the ambivalence both writers have to feminism.

Through the metaphor of the ‘Woman in White’, the project aims to widen the debate on the two writers by exploring the themes of rootlessness, and domestic violence in six of their works where these themes are prevalent. The analysis uses the metaphor of the eyes of the woman in white as a unifying principle which leads each close reading to the attainment of a presiding emotion (a rasa). My other aim, therefore, is to stimulate Western interest in other Non-Western theories through my use of the rasadhvani since these remain as a blind spot on our Western map of knowledge.