Reference : Reconceptualizing the Second-Generation Diasporic Subjectivity through Gogol: A Reapp...
Scientific journals : Article
Arts & humanities : Literature
Reconceptualizing the Second-Generation Diasporic Subjectivity through Gogol: A Reappraisal of Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake
Munos, Delphine mailto [Université de Liège - ULiège > Département des langues et littératures modernes > Littérature anglaise moderne et littérature américaine >]
Interactions Ege Journal of English and American Studies
[en] Diaspora ; Second Generation ; Melancholia
[en] While Jhumpa Lahiri’s work might be thought of as one of the most emblematic instances of the popularity of today’s Indian-American diasporic literature, it remains that its hyper-visibility coincides with an odd form of critical invisibility. Indeed, the vast majority of critical interventions on Lahiri’s three books takes as its premise that view that cultural assimilation and hybridity are still valid notions to investigate narratives focusing on members of the second generation, even as these descendants of migrants consider themselves Indian simply by virtue of their parents, so that they can only claim a second-hand knowledge of migration. Ignoring the difference between first and second-generation Indian-American diasporic experiences – and, what is more, overlooking the fact that the offspring of migrants, unlike their parents, “[do] not really have any other place [than the U.S.] to call home” (Lahiri) – such critical consensus ignores important aspects of Gogol’s complex trajectory in The Namesake. Taking its cue from Vijay Mishra’s understanding of the diasporic subjectivity in terms of an impossible mourning, and more precisely, hinging on the hypothesis that what is passed on from one generation to the next organizes itself less around positive, than negative entities – i.e. the gap, the absent, the unsaid – this essay sets out to examine how, through The Namesake’s protagonist, Lahiri redefines the notions of belonging and arrival as regards the Indian-American second generation not in terms of cultural assimilation – which would hardly make sense for characters who were born in the U.S. in the first place – but in terms of a re-symbolization of the gaps in the parents’ migrant narratives.
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