Thursday, April 10, 2008

Kiran Desai - The Inheritance of Loss

I seem to constantly find myself reading post-colonial works. Without any intention of doing so, I have mysteriously made myself a scholar of post-colonialism in all my classes, almost to the exclusion of everything else. Whether this is because of the topic's importance and frequency or just a fluke of my specific professors' choices I cannot say. Either way, this book fits solidly within this category. However, I'm basically going to note only interesting phrases and ideas here because frankly, I'm about to write an essay about this book and I just don't have to time to give it a thorough assessment here.
"viewed, in their free, self-righteous, modern love, the unfree and ancient bars, behind which lived a red panda, ridiculously solemn for being such a madly beautiful thing, chewing his bamboo leaves as carefully as a bank clerk doing numbers" (Desai 141).
"Since her romance with Gyan, she had a new understanding of cats. Uncaring of the troubles in the market, Mustafa was wringing forth ecstasies, pushing against her ribs to find a bone to ribble his chin against [...] Mustafa's bones seemed to be dissolving under Sai's stroking, and he twirled on her kjnees in a trance, eyes closed, a mystic knowing neither one religion nor another, neither one country nor another, just this " (Desai 128).
"She prided herself on being able to take anything -- Anything but gentleness" (Desai 120).
"When he looked about he saw he was not in charge: mold in his toothbrush, snakes slitering unafraid right over the patio, furniture gaining weight" (Desai 110).
"Mutt began to do what she always did when she met strangers: she turned a furiously wagging bottom to the intruders and looked around from behind, smiling, conveying both shyness and hope. Hating to see her degrade herself thus, the judge reached for her, whereupon she buried her nose in his arms" (Desai 4).
"the judge ate the lovely brown puddle and gradually his face took on an expression of grudging pudding contentment" (Desai 3,4)
“He looked, then, at the sugar in the pot: dirty, micalike glinting granules. The biscuits looked like cardboard and there were dark finger marks on the white of the saucers. Never ever was the tea served the way it should be, but he demanded at least a cake or scones, macaroons or cheese straws. Something sweet and something salty. This was a travesty and it undid the very concept of teatime” (Desai 3).
“No human had ever seen an adult giant squid alive, and though they had eyes as big as apples to scope the dark of the ocean, theirs was a solitude so profound they might never encounter another of their tribe. The melancholy of this situation washed over Sai” (Desai 2).
"'Dreadful legs those English girls have,' said Uncle Potty, who had been present at the altercation. 'Big pasty things. Good thing they've started wearing pants now'" (Desai 46).
“Boots cucumber lotion and Marks and Spencer underwear – the essence, quintessence, of Englishness as she understood it. Surely the queen donned this superior hosiery: She was solid/It was solid. She was plain/It was plain. She was strong/It was strong. She was no-nonsense./It was no-nonsense. They prevailed” (Desai 47).

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Jamaica Kincaid - A Small Place

I realize that this is a short article rather than a book- but it's still a text that I want to mention.

"the English have become such a pitiful lot these days, with hardly any idea what to do with themselves now that they no longer have one quarter of the earth's human population bowing and scraping before them. They don't seem to know that this empire business was all wrong and they should, at least, be wearing sackcloth and ashes in token penance of the wrongs committed, the irrevocableness of their bad deeds, for no natural disaster imaginable could equal the harm they did [...] I can say to them what went wrong: they should never have left their home, their precious England, a place they loved so much, a place they had to leave but could never forget. And so everywhere they went they turned it into England; and everybody they met they turned English. But no place could ever really be England, and nobody who did not look exactly like them would ever be English, so you can imagine the destruction of people and land that came from that" (Kincaid, A Small Place).
"We were taught the names of the Kings of England. In Antigua, the twenty-fourth of May was a holiday -- Queen Victoria's official birthday. We didnt' say to ourselves, Hasn't this extremely unappealing person been dead for years and years? ... I cannot tell you how angry it makes me to hear people from North America tell me how much they love England, how beautiful England is, with its traditions. All they see is some frumpy, wrinkled-up person passing by in a carriage waving at a crowd. But what I see is the millions of people of whom I am just one, made orphans: no motherland, no fatherland, no gods, no mounds of earth for holy ground, no excess of love which might lead to the things that an excess of love sometimes brings, and worst and most painful of all, no tongue. For isn't it odd that the only language I have in which to speak of this crime is the language of the criminal who committed the crime? [...] As for what we were like before we met you, I no longer care. No periods of time over which my anscestors held sway, no documentation of complex civilisations, is any comfort to me. Even if I really came from peopel who were living like monkeys in trees, it was better to be that than what happened to me, what I became after I met you" (Kincaid, A Small Place).