The Janus and the janissary: reading into Camus' 'La chute' and Hamid's The reluctant fundamentalist

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Abstract

Mohsin Hamid has acknowledged the influence of Camus's The Fall (1956) in his use of implied dialogue in The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007). Although the works have other elements in common, I focus primarily on this and other formal features, including degrees of self-reflexivity and metanarrative, the representation of the past, and the use of pronouns. This leads to an analysis of the reception of The Fall and the manner in which critics have turned to paratextual material in their historico-political interpretations, a form of “reading into” which I suggest is prompted by the monologic, “terroristic” nature of the narrative. Hamid's Reluctant Fundamentalist, by contrast, has been interpreted predominantly in terms of post-9/11 geopolitical issues articulated within the diegesis: a “reading in” rather than “into.” To redress the critical balance, the article closes with a reading of Hamid's text that decenters such interpretations, focusing instead on the representation of books, global markets, and diegetic novelists, a “return of the author” in another guise.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-74
JournalComparative Literature
Volume68
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Implied dialogue
  • 9/11
  • Reception
  • Terroristic narrative
  • Metanarrative
  • Global publishing industry

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