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The Formation of a Centre of Global Literature 

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The term Globalisation essentially means the formation of an expanding global economy pronounced by the liberalisation of trade, exchange of capital and utilization of low-cost foreign labour. It was an economic process that first developed in the urban cities of the world, predominantly the West, and with time spread to the peripheries. These metropolitan centres inevitably became the centres of the literary world as a result of accelerated globalization. The formation of this “centre” for global literature has affected writers across the world. Through this essay, I will examine disadvantages of the impact that the “centre” has produced, highlighting the influence of trend. To bring about evidence and reasoning for my claim, I will analyse David Damrosch’s “Going Global”, Amitav Ghosh’s “The Testimony of my Grandfather’s Bookcase” and Orhan Pamuk’s “My Father’s Suitcase”.

The “centre” held a slightly different meaning and interpretation to the three authors. David Damrosch believes that Paris, London and New York remain the key centres of publication, and that writers from peripheral regions typically need to be accepted by the agents and publishers of these centres in order to achieve global outreach. According to Amitav Ghosh, the centre was marked by authors who had received the Nobel Prize for Literature. This collection had a variety of writers from Russia, America, France and Germany; writers like Grazia Deledda, Gorky, Hamsun, Sholokhov and Sienkiewicz, all of them were globally recognized. Similarly, Orhan Pamuk recognizes the centre as being Paris and America. He felt that outside Turkey there was a more rich and exciting life, and that the reason his father would travel to Paris was to find this inspiration, to be in the “centre “in order to write better. Among the views of three authors, we see that the centre of global literature held slightly varied meanings, but was predominantly the West, and this centre largely influenced writers and readers across the globe. One of the major consequence of the formation of a centre was the development of a trend. Some works have gained popularity because they have followed a trend or a similar theme of a previously popular work. David Damrosch states that Milorad Pavic’s “Dictionary of the Khazars” wouldn’t have been a success had it not been for the popularity of “magical realism”, that was adopted previously by writers like Gabriel Garcla Marquez and Salman Rushdie. Such successes affected every affected every aspect of literary production, from what readers preferred to read, to the selectivity of publishing agents and the options accessible to readers. The set into motion the prevalence of trend-setting books.

However, this posed a threat to writers across the world. Writers, in their attempts to fit into this global trend and be recognized by publishers from the centre, often had to adopt to writing watered-down versions of their works. As mentioned by Tariq Ali, this lead to the formation of “Market realism” instead of “Socialist realism”. As a result, literary works often lacked cultural grounding and authenticity. Additionally, Orhan Pamuk, identifies that one his fears as a writer is to lose his authenticity and to surrender to aping the West and following its trend. He says that, A writer is someone who spends years patiently trying to discover the second being inside him, and the world that makes him who he is. But he is apprehensive to open his father’s suitcase, which contains his works, because he feels that as a result of being influenced by the “centre”, the West, his father might have lost originality. This is evident, in that the collection of books in his library, are predominantly works from Paris and the West. Pamuk felt that he was far away from the centre, a sense of provinciality, more so because the city of Istanbul showed little interest in writers. A writer writes with the hope that people around the world would understand and relate to the thoughts expressed in their works. But perhaps it is this longing for being in the centre of everything, an exciting place, that the writers have created their own worlds with their words. Moreover, Amitav Ghosh states that owning a collection of books that were globally recognized was a status symbol.

In West Bengal, the educated and literate families owned works by Nobel prize winners. Although the books were not read, the library was still dusted occasionally, to showcase a cultural capital. He highlights the affect of this centre on readers, in that they developed a writing culture, which was rather pretentious. This in turn confines and forces writers to author their works in that vein of work, which the audience prefers. However, there are many methods that writers have adopted to achieve global outreach. Ghosh states that writers have adopted the method of delocalisation, an idea mentioned by David Damrosch as well. To set a story in a location devoid of any specific cultural background, often in mystical and emblematic locales. Glocalization, the idea aiming to “think locally, act globally” was a different strategy adopted by writers to maintain their locality’s cultural whilst reaching globally. “One Thousand and One Nights”, a novel, although set in the city of Baghdad, is portrayed as more of an incantation, an enchanted city that any imaginative mind can picture.

Further, books like “Panchatantra” and “Jatakas”, although set in Cultural India were easily adapted in different parts of the world. This was due to their transability and the dispensable nature of their location. The Universality of novels aided their spread across the globe.

Furthermore, Pamuk believes that the internal battle within a writer really ends when he or she realizes that their work holds true essence when grounded and portrayed in the heart of its origin. Giving this realization strength, Amitav Ghosh says that location is intrinsic to a novel. It is the setting, the atmosphere that a writers constructs, which gives the readers an image of their narratives. Keeping this in mind, in order to reach a wider readership, writers can adopt glocalism, by working outward from their location, without losing the essence of this locality but portraying it as a microcosm of global exchange. In conclusion, the formation of a “centre” has had a detrimental impact on writers across the world, causing them to lose authenticity and become culturally distant. To cope with this problem of cultural barriers, universality and transability writers have adopted different methods to widen their outreach like delocalisation and glocalization. However, in a world where Global literature has gained momentum, Writers strive to find their centre, only to realize that it lies in the nucleus of their origin.

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