UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Paradigms of absence : the writings of Zulfikar Ghose Kanaganayakam, Chelvanayakam


The primary objective of this thesis is to study the writings of the contemporary poet, short story writer, novelist and critic Zulfikar Ghose. In some respects Ghose is a "difficult" and "unclassifiable" writer who refuses to be confined to traditional categories. He calls himself "Indo-Pakistani" and "native-alien" -- terms which recall his experience of displacement and exile after the Independence and Partition of India in 1947. Although the trauma of marginalisation does not constitute the overt subject matter of the bulk of his writings, I have argued that the theme of native-alien experience underpins the entire corpus of his work. The focus of this study is on evolving poetic and narrative patterns in Ghose's work and the complex relation between form and content. Chapter 1, which follows a biographical introduction, deals with the author's four volumes of poetry and traces a paradigm which reflects in microcosm the development of his fiction. Chapter 2 discusses three early works -- Statement Against Corpses, The Contradictions and The Murder of Aziz Khan -- in relation to the conventions of mimetic writing. I have analysed Crump's Terms, which is Ghose's only stream-of-consciousness novel, in chapter 3. Chapters 4 and 5 deal with the Brazilian trilogy and Hulme's Investigations into the Bogart Script respectively. The central issue in the chapter on the trilogy is the tension created by the subtle use of diachronic and synchronic patterns. Hulme is an antireferential work, and in chapter 5 I have concentrated on the notion of an autonomous construct as a possible vehicle for the experience of exile. The recent novels -- A New History of Torments and Don Bueno -- are works of magic realism, and in chapter 6 I have studied the author's use of the possibilities inherent in this mode. Where necessary, I have referred to Ghose's autobiography, his critical works and an interview recorded on 14 Aug. 1984 (included as an appendix) to reinforce my reading of his poetry and fiction. Ghose's experimentalism is at once the most fascinating and the most difficult aspect of his writings. I have argued in all the chapters, and in the conclusion, that his technical inventiveness, far from being a sign of waywardness, is a necessary consequence of a quest for a vision of home that can be found nowhere in the external world.

Item Media

Item Citations and Data


For non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use https://open.library.ubc.ca/terms_of_use.