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Chapter 4 - Indulekha, or The Many Lives of Realism at the Fin de Siècle

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 August 2023

Dustin Friedman
Affiliation:
American University, Washington DC
Kristin Mahoney
Affiliation:
Michigan State University
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Summary

Originally written in Malayalam, Indian writer O. Chandumenon’s novel, Indulekha (1889–90) was translated into English within a year of its publication and reprinted every year for almost a century. This chapter focuses on Indulekha’s engagement with a matrilineal household, typical of the Nair community in late nineteenth-century Malabar. In doing so, the chapter is attentive to the novel’s choice of genre. By taking up matriliny through the lens of realism, the novel not only departs from a fairly common nineteenth-century practice of depicting matriliny through romance but also remaps realism, extending its scope and valence amidst the social, sexual, and political shifts marking the fin de siècle, transimperially conceived.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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