“POSTMODERN IDENTITY” by T. Ravichandran: New study of John Barth, Thomas Pynchon and the postmodern (with my Foreword)

"POSTMODERN IDENTITY" by T. Ravichandran: New study of John Barth, Thomas
Pynchon and the postmodern (with my Foreword)
Now out in India is "Postmodern Identity" (Jaipur: RBSA Publishers, 2007,
hardback, xxxviii + 212 pp.), an important new study of postmodernism by Dr
T. Ravichandran of the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the
Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur. The book includes a long foreword
(pp. i-xxxi) by myself, in which I endeavour to place this very able study
of two major living US novelists in a more general context of postmodernism
and globalisation.

The full text of the foreword is on-line at:

Description of the book:
"Postmodernism is reckoned to be the most complex and amorphous of all
literary trends. Even its sceptics, who secretly wish for an
unresurrectable death of Postmodernism, grudgingly accept the fact that
Postmodernism has a deeply penetrating and over-arching presence in the
contemporary literary scenario and the critical and heuristic potential of
its practices and theories are far from being exhausted. Paradoxically, in
spite of its global impact, it appears to be the most abused and
misunderstood of all literary phenomena. In this context, Postmodern
Identity illuminates the concept of Postmodernism by endeavouring to fix
its identity in relation to the novels of two of the central postmodern
proponents, namely, John Barth and Thomas Pynchon. The book explains the
apparent evasiveness of the postmodern phenomenon in the light of its
semantic and historical instability; its love-hate affinity with modernism;
its deconstructionalist irreverence for centre and hierarchy resulting in a
self-reflexive parody of reality; and finally, its approach towards reality
as a fictionalized version. Among the pluriversions of Postmodernism, the
versions of Barth and Pynchon are studied particularly to explicate the
oneness they exhibit in their concern for the theme of fluidity of
identity. Towards expressing the postmodern fragmentation, these writers
disseminate identity in terms of nameless, characterless anonymity;
ailments in relation to pathology; remedies pertaining to control systems;
dismemberment owing to deflated myths and reversal of identity-quests
because of their deteleological textual basis."
Extract from my foreword:
"Dr. Ravichandran has expounded and tabulated the different elements in the
earlier work of Barth and Pynchon that may best be considered
representative of identifying what is postmodernism. . . . If the
postmodern mode transforms narrative into a Borgesian garden of forking
paths, then what the reader new to the game needs most is a map. . . . If
we apply Jameson’s method to literary criticism in relation to postmodern
works, we may conclude that Ravichandran, in this book, offers us such a
cognitive map of the postmodernist text—a map enabling the reader to
successfully navigate the complexities of the new mode of writing. . . . As
the reader will discover, the critical exposition offered of the parallel
universes of the two writers is remarkable both for its theoretical sweep
and its attention to textual detail."


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