Traumas of Roots and Extinction in the 20th Century Literature of Empire: The Mirror Principle in Marguerite Duras’ India Cycle (1964-71) and Ahmed Ali’s Twilight in Delhi (1940)

Keywords: Marguerite Duras, Ahmed Ali, Indian nationalism, Islam, Marxism, Heideggerianism, Buddhism, Ambedkar, Tagore, French Resistance, colonialism, Proust


This article comparatively analyses Marguerite Duras’ India Cycle and Ahmed Ali’s Twilight in Delhi. A Mirror Principle centres on ‘emptiness’, synthesising elements of Marxism and Buddhism. A new optic is created for understanding 1930s Indian nationalism, including Dalit and national leader Ambedkar, Tagorian “composite culture”, Mohammed Iqbal, and Islam and gender in northern India. The Mirror Principle juxtaposes Heideggerian ‘repetition’ and Marxian ‘dialectics’ as divergent anti-colonial paths. Duras and Ali are linked by a common Proustian problematic of memory and ephemerality. They revolutionize the Proustian tradition to create a new literary genre in oneiric socialism. The article analyses trauma, in the French Resistance and the 1857 rebellion, and literary reconstructions of traditional roots in their wake, with differing nation-making ramifications.

Author Biography

Tadd Graham Fernée, New Bulgarian University, Sofia, Bulgaria

Tadd Graham Fernée is part of the Department of Foreign Languages and Cultures of New Bulgarian University. He is a researcher for New York University, and the author of The Enlightenment and Violence: Modernity and Nation-Making (2014).


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How to Cite
Fernée, T. (2020). Traumas of Roots and Extinction in the 20th Century Literature of Empire: The Mirror Principle in Marguerite Duras’ India Cycle (1964-71) and Ahmed Ali’s Twilight in Delhi (1940). English Studies at NBU, 6(1), 145-172.