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Establishing presence through absence: Dom Moraes’s ambivalence towards India
Published in SAGE Publications Ltd
Volume: 55
Issue: 2
Pages: 144 - 159
As a poet, journalist, autobiographer, and travel writer, Dom Moraes was a prolific presence in the Anglophone literary world throughout the second half of the twentieth century. Though born in Bombay, Moraes had moved to England at a young age and his very first book of poetry, A Beginning, had earned him fame in the emergent post-Second World War British cultural scene of the late 1950s and early 1960s, winning him the Hawthornden Prize at the age of 19. He was equally popular when he came back to India during the 1980s, and regular volumes of his poetry and prose were published by the newly established Penguin Books India until his death in 2004. Surprisingly, in spite of being such a well-known and well-published author, Moraes’s work in general, and his poetry in particular, have strangely fallen out of critical focus. My article explores this contradictory situation of an apparently famous poet being persistently ignored by critics and anthologists. It attempts to show how this unusual situation can be traced back to a sense of bafflement that most critics and anthologists share when it comes to categorizing Moraes so as to initiate a discussion on him. It also attempts to depict how this sense of puzzlement in categorizing Moraes is connected to Moraes’s own ambivalent attitude towards India, his country of birth, which frequently vacillates between a strong sense of aversion and a feeling of deep empathy. In conclusion, the paper tries to probe how Moraes grapples with his complex sense of affiliation to and distance from India by representing his creative self and its cultural location in the form of a variety of absences — a process which makes him difficult to categorize and as a consequence challenging to discuss. © The Author(s) 2018.
About the journal
JournalData powered by TypesetJournal of Commonwealth Literature
PublisherData powered by TypesetSAGE Publications Ltd