Social Scientist. v 24, no. 278-79 (July-Aug 1996) p. 81.

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Class and Nation-State: Roots of Indian Literature

Professor Aijaz Ahmad is an Urdu writer, a teacher of English and, above all, a Marxist intellectual. The essays and papers he prepared for presentation to the various seminars i^i India and abroad have been brought together in revised forms in a book, significantly titled Classes, Nations and Literature in Theory.

Although the book contains two chapters entitled 'Marx on IndiaŚa Clarification,', 'Indian Literature: Note towards the definition of a category,' which help the discussion on the class and nation-state roots of Indian literature, the book as a whole is a discussion of the recent trends in the English literature and their class and national roots. It is proposed in the latter part of this note to discuss the main points made in these two pieces and to formulate certain ideas on the class and nation-state roots of Indian literature.

It is however necessary to begin with the author's view of English literature, particularly in the two English-speaking countries of England and the United States. In the very opening chapter of the book, the author says:

The notable developments in literary studies, as these have evolved in all the English-speaking countries over the past quarter century or so is the proliferation, from a great many critical positions, of what come to be known simply as 'theory'.

His concern is not with the theory of literature in general, not even with English literature from old days to the present day. He is concerned rather with the developments in the English literature during the last quarter century. His finding is that there has been what he calls: 'an explosion of the theory', which is 'a matter of catching up with many kinds of very diverse continental developments: Benjamin, the Frankfurt School, Lukacs; linguistics, hermonutics, phenomenology,

Member, Polit Bureau, Communist Party of India (Marxist).

Social Scientist, Vol. 24, Nos. 7-8, July-August 1996

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