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A Tale of Two Novels from the Global South

This article examines the realist styles of the shared politics and representational tactics of Fakir Mohan Senapati's Six Acres and a Third and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude. In the 19th century context of British rule in India and in the 20th century Latin American context of banana republics, respectively, both writers critique the dependence of the local economy on an exploitative foreign economic power. Firmly based in their respective local cultures and world views and using the form of narrative transculturation, these two novels from the global South help develop a critical consciousness of colonial and neocolonial modernity. The

SPECIAL ARTICLEDECember 13, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly52A Tale of Two Novels from the Global South Jennifer Harford VargasThis article examines the realist styles of the shared politics and representational tactics of Fakir Mohan Senapati’sSix Acres and a Third and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. In the 19th century context of British rule in India and in the 20th century Latin American context of banana republics, respectively, both writers critique the dependence of the local economy on an exploitative foreign economic power. Firmly based in their respective local cultures and world views and using the form of narrative transculturation, these two novels from the global South help develop a critical consciousness of colonial and neocolonial modernity.The paper is forthcoming inColonialism, Modernity, and Literature: A View from India, edited by Satya P Mohanty (New York: Palgrave-Macmillan).I am deeply grateful to Satya Mohanty for encouraging this project and for his insightful and careful feedback on earlier drafts. I am also thankful to Ulka Anjaria for her useful comments on an earlier version of this paper and to the FMS Summer Institute participants for our generative discussion of the novel. Jennifer Harford Vargas ( is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at Stanford University. In his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, ‘The Solitude of Latin America’,Gabriel García Márquez begins his remarks on his literary craft by first giving a moving account of the invasions, massacres, disappearances, and dictatorships suffered by Latin America. He focuses on this historical reality of violence to com-ment on Latin America’s often mistakenly attributed and roman-ticised magical nature, purportedly represented by his fiction. García Márquez claims that he has attempted to render in his fic-tion an accurate portrayal of Latin American reality in Latin American aesthetic terms. Arguing that his form of representa-tion is as important aswhathe represents, García Márquez de-clares: “We [in Latin America] have had to ask but little of imagi-nation, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable...The interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serves only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary”.1 His rejection of imported and imposed “patterns” in favour of indigenous ones is anchored in his belief that colonisation is perpetuated when Latin American history and literature are written and interpreted in the modes, discourses, or imaginaries of Europe or the United States. The appropriate aesthetic project, as García Márquez articulates it, is to develop viable forms of literary representation – that is, “conventional means” for representing local realities – generated from those same local contexts. Startlingly, García Márquez develops a mode of representation remarkably similar to the one developed by the Indian writer Fakir Mohan Senapati over half a century earlier. The publication by the University of California Press in a new English translation from Oriya of Senapati’s novel Six Acres and a Third in2006 has now made the text widely available beyond India.2 Six Acres and aThird, which was originally serialised from 1897-99 and published as a book in 1902,reveals compelling similarities with García Márquez’sOne Hundred Years of Solitude(1967), another novel of pivotal significance written in the global South.3 Senapati and García Márquez both respond in similar ways to colonial and neocolonial socio-economic relations and ideologies by generat-ing literary forms of what I will be calling “critical realism”. Whether in the 19th century context of the British raj or in the 20th century Latin American context of banana republics, both writers are invested in critiquing the dependence of the local economy on an exploitative foreign economic power as analysed by dependency and world system theorists such as Raúl Prebisch, Immanuel Wallerstein, and Anibál Quijano. Colonial India and neocolonial Colombia share a position of economic dependence within a transnational system of capital that exploits the periphery and benefits the centre in an uneven modernity. They also share the subordination of their knowledge production and the


SPECIAL ARTICLEDECember 13, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly54As Satya Mohanty (2006) has already cogently demonstrated at length in his introduction to the novel,Six Acres and a Third is written in the style of what he terms “analytical realism”. Mohanty distinguishes analytical realism from naturalistic realism.7 According to him, naturalistic realism is more descriptive and mimetic, since it “builds on the accumulation of details” (p 2). In contrast, analytical realism “explains and delves into underlying causes” (p 2). Put simply, analytical realism “seeks to analyse and explain social reality instead of merely holding up a mirror to it” (p 2). Mohanty argues that Senapati achieves this analytical realism through “a self-reflexive and even self-parodic narrative mode” that emphasises not only the tale being told but, inparticular,“the way it is told” (pp 2-3, emphasis mine). Senapati focuses “not only on the ‘what’…but also on the ‘how’” of representation and reference – on both Indian society and on “the mediating layers that shape our perceptions and judgments about [that] reality” – by delving beneath the surface to “reveal a more self-reflexive concernwith ideological distortion and the possibility of objective knowledge” (p 15). Rather than being “simply mimetic or descriptive”, this “complex” realism, Mohanty argues, makes Senapati a successful literary andsocial-theoretical realist (p 15). Just as importantly, Senapati’s focus on the “what”andthe “how” creates readers who are consciously forced to engage with the text’sironic style,latent meanings, and alternative social vision, therebybecomingactive, critical readers and social subjects. While I will not explicate here the specific textual examples undergirding Mohanty’s detailed articulation of it, I do want to stress that analytical realism uses particular narrative modes, not just thematics, to interrogatively represent society. Narrated in a highly ironic, self-referential and parodic voice,Six Acres and a Third engages a wide tonal range and a plethora of literary tactics. It is filled with tangential stories, biting jabs, village gossip, quotes and deliberate mistranslations from the shastras and classic Indian literature, comical asides, scenes of village life, allusions to colonialism, mock intellectual meditations, and lengthy digressions. “[P]laying logic off against hearsay, science against superstition, learned discourse against plain speech”, Senapati’s varyingly dialogised narrative modes structurally generate the text’s critical framework (Sawyer 2006). Senapati’s analytical realism, then, emerges from thehow of representation – from the ways in which he constructs representations of social inequalities and obfuscating ideologies. Similarly, it is not just the “what” but also the “how”of repre-sentation that makes García Márquez’s particular form of marvel-lous realism inOne Hundred Years of Solitude a type of critical realism. Since1949 whenAlejo Carpentier (1995) first coined the term ‘lo real maravilloso Americano’ (the marvellous American real), the term has subsequently been used by critics to define a set of literary practices alternatively called marvellous or magical realism.8 While notoriously slippery to define, marvellous realism has, in general, been considered a type of literary representation that reveals the marvellous within ordinary life and that interro-gates the limits of hegemonic western categories of perception, classification, and imaginative representation.9 As Robin Fiddian (1995) asserts, marvellous realism contains “an overtly political character in its challenge to the rationalist assumptions of Western culture, and makes a categorical assertion of the difference of Latin American and other post-colonial cultures vis-à-vis the hegemonic values of imperialist cultures”.10 My intent here, however, is not to offer a definition of marvellous realism but to examine the shared politics and representational tactics of García Márquez’s and Senapati’s realist styles. Similar toSix Acres and a Third, One Hundred Years of Solitude employs the oft remarked upon stylistic strategies of irony and defamiliarisation as the basis for its critical realism. This struc-turing of representational perspective provides the means for challenging western conceptions of modernity and reality from the standpoint of Latin America. For instance, one of the most poignant and humorous episodes in the book occurs when western technology is introduced to Macondo. In recounting the events García Márquez stages a “contact” encounter from the Macondoians’ vantage point. The narrator describes the scene: Dazzled by so many and such marvellous inventions, the people of Macondo did not know where their amazement began….They became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theatre…for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears of affliction had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience...would not tolerate that outlandish fraud….[T]hey already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings (p 229). Ironically signifying on the colonial trope of marvellous wonder found in imperial “discovery” narratives, García Márquez turns the tables, subjecting the West to the logic of the marvellous trope.11 This perspectival switch renders the products of western technological modernity irrational and utilises the people of Macondo as interpretive agents. They prefer “real” drama, music, and voices to the “advancements” of film, phonograph, and telephone. Doubting the validity and usefulness of technologies of “progress”, they even judge the captive balloon a “backward” invention in comparison to the gypsies’ flying carpets (p 231). Their visceral emotional reactions to the technologies – ranging from indignation, curiosity, and discouragement to excitement, doubt, and despondency – indicate an alternative network of meaning about modernity. This provincialises European moder-nity, othering its discourse to show its limits. The ironic represen-tation of the encounter with modernisation critiques the West’s superior claims to civilisation and progress, revealing that the self-congratulatory obsession with innovation is not necessarily espoused by those seeing from a non-western position. García Márquez balances this ironic narrative tone with an earnest one. His critical marvellous realism challenges tradi-tional western assumptions of what is real by incorporating into the everyday naturalised reality of the novel virgins who ascend to heaven, plagues of insomnia, and children who are born with pig tails. These events are treated as believable and rational by the narrator who juxtaposes them with the unbelievable and irrational products of western technological modernity. While the novel’s realism is grounded in Latin American paradigms for establishing reality and truth, it is precisely the narrator’s implied awareness of differing world views in the global North and South, evident in the complementary tonalities of irony and earnestness that makes his representational modes socially engaged.
SPECIAL ARTICLEEconomic & Political Weekly EPW DECember 13, 200855Whether he pushes the limits of what qualifies as reality or whether he simply represents it, García Márquez toys with these two responses when he signifies on the “magic” of State violence.12 In the most haunting section of One Hundred Years of Solitude, he exposes the manipulative actions of the US banana company and negates the legal logic of the State that together justify exploitation and authorise massacre.13 When the exploited banana workers go on strike, the lawyers dismiss their demands with “decisions that seemed like acts of magic” (p 306, emphasis mine). García Márquez demystifies such acts by detailing their machinations as he depicts the company variously employing de-laying techniques, false identities, and jailings to avoid addressing the workers’ accusations. When the workers bring their complaints before the higher courts, the lawyers discount their demands with the “proof” that the banana company “did not have, never had, and never would have any workers in its service because they were hired on a temporary and occasional basis…and by a decision of the court it was established and set down in solemn decrees that the workers did not exist” (p 307, emphasis mine). The definition of “worker” is legally made to signify differently such that it retro-actively applies to the past, scripts the present, and determines the future of all company relations with its employees. García Márquez exposes the “magic” for what it is: the manipulation of legal cate-gories via legalistic loopholes through which the State, in collabo-ration with the banana company, establishes a legal basis to disappear thousands of banana workers. The disappearance of the workers does not occur as a result of the speech act itself (the decree) but as a result of the speech act granting the authority to disappear all dis-senting workers. That is, the workers do not simply disappear because the State has declared they do not exist; instead, because they do not exist as legal subjects there are no repercussions for disposing of them. As such, the protesters are massacred and dis-carded into the sea “like rejected bananas” – the very commodities and objects of consumption they once harvested (p 312). The novel’s critical realist mode, which lays bare the mecha-nisms of hegemonic discourse and power, is based in the marvel-lous realist technique of making the seemingly unbelievable be-lievable and vice versa. As forms of critical realism, García Már-quez’s marvellous realism and Senapati’s analytical realism are similar because both authors use a narrator who maintains an ironic and parodic distance from Eurocentric ways of interpreting reality in the global South. Put in the language of social scientists, both authors “provincialise Europe”, as south Asian historian Dipesh Chakrabarty (2000) has termed it, in order to adequately represent what cultural theorist Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar (2001) would call their local “alternative modernities”.14 Enacting these socio-political processes through literary means, both authors craft texts that deconstruct, to use a phrase from Paul L Sawyer (2006), “hierarchies of power, knowledge, and class privilege” by exposing how domination functions (p 4782). These critical realisms emerge from the strategic combination of varying forms of expression.Narrative Transculturation in the Novel Both authors’ realisms are composed through what Ángel Rama terms “narrative transculturation”. InTransculturación narrativa en América Latina, Rama argues that while Latin American literature is produced out of a dynamic colonial and anti-colonial dialectic, it does not merely imitate or completely reject European literature. This is because Latin American narrative is also forged through particular idioms, oral traditions, and world views drawn from Latin America. I use Rama’s concept to examine Senapati’s and García Márquez’s selective absorption and transformation of hegemonic written forms through their dialogisation with subaltern oral forms, codes of perception, and cultural values. Critical realism thus functions through narrative transculturation as various genres and world views are placed in critical relation at the levels ofboth content and form.In crafting the transculturated composition of Six Acres and a Third Senapati tactically combines a variety of narrative modes ranging from rumour to religious scripture, from health manuals to cultural sayings, from colonial histories to subaltern histories, and from legal discourses to individual testimonies. The overall structure, however, is most heavily shaped by storytelling.15 The fact that Senapati’s novel does not strictly work through written prose but also through oral modes is important in considering the type of knowledge validated, as I will demonstrate shortly. Here I would like to stress its conversational tone. Frequently, the narra-tor directly addresses various readers, and in one instance he16 tells the reader “your face reveals everything”, implying that his audi-ence is, in fact, physically present (p 88). The ability of the narrator to interpret the reader’s facial expressions evokes the sense that the narrator is not writing the story in private but telling his tale before a listening audience. The narrator’s manner of speaking to the reader and his use of “we” and “our” gives the book a structure of communal orality, which is additionally evident in the narrator’s repeated use of “some say”, “it is said” and “people say”.The structuring of Six Acres and a Third occurs predominantly through verbally circulated gossip, suggesting the validity of hearsay and conjecture as appropriate explanatory paradigms. From the novel’s opening paragraph the narrative turns on a moment of gossip. The narrator introduces us to Mangaraj as “a very pious man indeed” who observes every holy fast, consuming nothing but water and some sacred plant leaves (p 35). In the sentence immediately following this description, we get a very different view of Mangaraj: “Mangaraj’s barber, Jaga, let it slip that on the evenings of ekadasis a large pot of milk, some bananas, and a small quantity of khai and nabata are placed in the master’s bedroom” (p 35). The labourer Jaga’s knowledge, which is dis-seminated as gossip, challenges Mangaraj’s exemplary moral status. Though the narrator hedges the evidence provided by Jaga – purportedly condemning it on the basis of there being no witnesses physically present in the room to confirm Mangaraj’s breaking of the fast – the reader is from the very outset presented with a spoken chain of alternative meanings. In the next chapter, the narrator pits what “some say” about the quantity of money Mangaraj loaned against the significantly lower figure officially recorded in the “Income Tax Department” (p 41). The novel, there-fore, uses oral sources to place pressure on official, often textual, sources of authority. The consistent suggestions of Mangaraj’s underhand deals and lack of scruples are left unconfirmed by the narrator but can be discounted only if the reader chooses to reject knowledge disseminated via word of mouth as accurate evidence.
SPECIAL ARTICLEDECember 13, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly56In order to take the narrator’s stated comments in earnest, the reader must dismiss not only spoken information but also irony. In suggesting that the reader “grasp the main technique of get-ting at a matter through inference” to fully understand the truth of the story, the narrator suggests that the reader must essentially read against the grain, reading for the inferred instead of the stated (p 90). Claiming on the surface that popular knowledge is mere “slandering” (p 38), the narrator uses irony to force the reader to go below the mock critique of gossip and recognise what Henry Louis Gates jr (1988) would term the narrator’s “signifyin(g)” tactic of employing dual surface and latent layers of meaning.17 Mohanty characterises the novel’s narrator as a “touter-narrator”, linking the narrator to the “touter” in Oriya culture who “use[s] wit and intelligence to disguise his motives” (p 7). The narrator’s multivalent stories force the reader to be sceptical of his direct statements; they also teach the reader how to be a more effective social critic by being receptive to oral narratives, for only through their espousal can this be accomplished. Senapati’s overall use of hearsay and colloquial Oriyato con-struct the novel indicates that the stories recounted by “ordinary people” provide probing insights into relations of domination (p 152). For example, before a member of the state court arrives to investigate the death of Saria and the theft of the six acres and a third, a village “secret” circulated telling of the court official’s arrival (p 152). “Knowledgeable people remarked gravely, ‘Do you think this matter involves ordinary people like us?...No doubt a lot of people from the village will be arrested’” (p 152). The people’s fears are, in fact, corroborated later in the chapter when mass arrests occur. Senapati accordingly suggests that the verbal manner in which the common villagers communicate, and in communicating analyse their social world, must be validated not only as forms of knowledge but also as forms of representation. His use of an Oriya-village-based storytelling structure transcul-turates the novel’s written narrative, inserting a subaltern Oriya world view that is embedded in its vernacular genres.18 García Márquez constructs his narrative transculturation by di-alogising an array of literary and oral modes ranging from colonial discovery chronicles to ‘testimonio’, from popular legends to mi-grant ‘corridos’, from scientific investigations to ‘vallenato’music, and from modernist techniques to regional colloquialisms. Akin to Senapati who chose to write in colloquial Oriya and employ an Oriya narratorial personality, García Márquez utilises regional Spanish from the Caribbean coast and a narrator whose stylistic tone and world view are connected to the ‘mamador de gallo’.19 Similar to the Oriya ‘touter’ and the African American signifyin(g) monkey, a mamador de gallo is a figure particular to García Márquez’s native Colombia costal region. While often simply an irresponsible jokester, the mamador de gallo also subverts power relations most commonly through irony, parody, and over-exaggeration, often recounting stories with a dead-pan seriousness that nevertheless permits the underlying mocking joke to peek through.20 García Márquez’s narrator variously functions as a mamador de gallo, exaggerating colonial world views in particular.21 He evokes historical personages ranging from Sir Francis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh to Alexander von Humboldt, in addition to the fictional characters of Mr Herbert and Gastón. The narrator parodies this history of colonisation by appropriating the motif of scientific documentation and representing the European encounter with the “new” from the Latin American villagers’ humoured point of view. When Mr Herbert, owner of the captive balloon, arrives at the Buendía’s house and sits down to eat, he tastes a banana for the first time. Taking out “optical instruments” and looking at the banana “[w]ith the suspicious attention of a diamond merchant[,] he examined the banana meticulously, dissecting it with a special scalpel, weighing the pieces on a pharmacist’s scale, and calculating its breadth with a gunsmith’s calipers….It was such an intriguing ceremony that no one could eat in peace” (p 232). The narrator realistically exaggerates Mr Herbert’s strange investigations of something as familiar and ordinary as a banana in all seriousness but with an underlying ironic humour that invites the reader to doubt the assumed rationality of such actions. Using ‘guineo’, the coastal term for banana, mamador de gallo-narrator subtly scripts Mr Herbert’s actions as ridiculous, satirising the scientific investigation (represented by the pharma-cist’s scale) and violent conquest (represented by the gunsmith’s callipers) known all too well in Latin America. In another instance, García Márquez signifies on European colo-nial discourse by incorporating the trope of the cannibal, directly exposing the cognitive limits of the colonial imaginary. As a child Aureliano Babilonia emerges from his captivity “naked, with matted hair, and with an impressive sex organ that was like a turkey’s wattles, as if he were not a human child but the encyclopaedia definition of a cannibal” (p 299). While he is depicted as an ‘atropófago’, or cannibal, with the same stereotypical descriptions found in colonial texts, the reader soon learns that Aureliano Babilonia is not onto-logically “primitive” nor does he have a “barbaric” nature. He has merely suffered material neglect because the class biased Fernanda has locked him away. In fact, it is the atropófago22 Aureliano Buendía who learns how to decode Melquiades’ scripts by combin-ing his local historical knowledge with his capacity for foreign lan-guages.23 This transculturation enables him to decipher the entire history of the Buendías, thus discounting the imperial logic that would classify him as an inferior savage. Senapati and García Márquez both give analytical and aes-thetic substance to the ironic and parodic vernacular styles of the touter and the mamador de gallo. Transculturating the novel form with these oral forms enables the valorisation of subal-ternised archives of knowledge and manners of expression such as gossip and exaggeration that are traditionally not granted much epistemic importance. As creative valuations of subalterity and, as such, in affinity with the south Asian and Latin American scholarly subaltern studies projects, both novels consider subal-terns “active social, political and heuristic agents”, as subalternist Ileana Rodríguez characterises them.24 The novels represent subalterns as critical knowledge producers, valuing subaltern consciousness as an organising narrative perspective. Geopolitics of Knowledge Complementing the transculturated structuring of narrative perspective, the texts validate producers of knowledge and types of knowledge that are traditionally dismissed as irrational or unscientific or that are simply not taken into account. The
SPECIAL ARTICLEEconomic & Political Weekly EPW DECember 13, 200857geopolitics of knowledge privileges knowledge generated in the global North as well as epistemological modes that conform to the paradigms of logic and rational validity established by west-ern enlightenment and modernity. To question this, Senapati uses alternative epistemic agents, such as poor villagers, while García Márquez uses alternative notions of temporality, such as residual time. As Paul Sawyer (2006) astutely observes, “The most direct representation of ordinary experience may, paradoxi-cally, be a form of ‘perspectivalism’ that withdraws privilege from the conventional hierarchies of importance, forces the reader to reorient herself among competing discourse and points of view, and in this way brings human subjects who are beneath official notice into clear focus” (p 4782). Engaging a perspectivalism em-bedded in subalterns and their points of view, both texts alter hegemonic hierarchies.Senapati’s narrator spends a great deal of time parodying and debunking sources of epistemic authority, especially those that are linked to colonial rule or mindsets.25 Complementarily, Senapati’s narrator relies on a variety of non-traditional, unofficial sources as he consults the villagers and incorporates their folk and reli-gious beliefs. He does not discount village knowledge as rural, backward, or inferior but instead uses it as a key fount of wisdom. As such, the novel’s formal project – to decentre hegemonic ex-pressive modes through the gossip structure of the narrative – is joined to its epistemic project – to recognise other, local sources of authority and ways of knowing. While the world view of García Márquez’s novel allows for ghosts, prophecy, and mysterious natural occurrences to occur without question, Senapati employs folk beliefs and the mysterious realm slightly differently as a means to meditate on the social realm.26 For example, the narrator asks the elder weaver Ekadusia the history of Asura pond, allowing an Oriya “local historian” to recount history, instead of relying on academic European historians like “Marshman and Tod” (p 102).27 Validating the village weaver Ekadusia as a knowledge producer allows his subaltern cultural capital to carry epistemic weight. Ekadusia recounts the tale of the demon Banasura who “ordered the pond be dug, but did not pick up shovels and baskets to dig it himself” (p 101). Regardless of its historical veracity, Ekadusia’s tale signals a deep awareness of the structure of inequality in modern colonial production as those who “order” do not labour.28 In fact, it becomes clear that while they may not have the agency to change systemic relations, the peasant villagers do decipher the larger system of bribes and mortgages and perceive the unfair distribution of resources. Responding to the news that Mangaraj has been persecuted and that the courts have given his lands to a lawyer, the villagers bemoan that this legal action is irrelevant: “You do not get much to eat here; you will not get much to eat there” (p 206). Impor-tantly, this searing subaltern moral judgment, which gives the closing tone to Six Acres and a Third, is spoken not by one person in particular but by “the people of the village [who] reminded one another” of their cyclical plight of poverty (p 205). Function-ing as an epistemic collective, the village generates insight, in-sight mined by the narrator who uses their knowledge to put pressure on colonialist powers. García Márquez’s novel similarly contains aplethora of unoffi-cial knowledge producers who are allocated narrative space.29 However, I will focus on García Márquez’s representation of tem-porality in order to demonstrate the subaltern hermeneutic pro-duced through his construction of time. At different points, García Márquez depicts time as linear, simultaneous, collapsed, parallel, circular, and repetitious. He represents it by embedding within a more or less linear chronological plot the coexistence of and the mutualmirroring of past and present. Presenting tempo-rality from the standpoint of those subalternised by neocolonial modernity, he thereby challenges the hegemonic characterisation of modernity as teleological progressive development leading to freedom and prosperity. The utter desolation in which Macondo is left after the banana company leaves foregrounds the historical repetition of explora-tion and exploitation as well as the wasted ruins of colonisation and modernisation. The text constructs a complex residual30 temporality of the past as present through the Spanish galleon located on the periphery of the enchanted region. Originally found by José Arcadio Buendía at the beginning of the novel, the Spanish galleon, described as seeming to “occupy its own space, one of solitude and oblivion”, gets reanimated symbolically as it is re-encountered at different historical turning points (p 12). Colonel Aureliano, who comes across the galleon during the civil wars, recounts the location to Aureliano Triste, who tries to mod-ernise the route by establishing train tracks, which, unbeknownst to him, eventually bring the banana company. Úrsula responds to the galleon’s resurfacing and Aureliano Triste’s plans with the observation “that time was going in a circle” (p 226). Úrsula per-spicaciously recognises the doomed repetition of time in the space of the enchanted region. In a later panoramic description from the train of the enchanted region where the banana fields are now planted and “where the carbonised skeleton of the Spanish galleon still sat”, García Márquez juxtaposes the squalor in which the banana workers live with the wealthy luxury of the US banana company owners (p 300). His description of the empty, petrified shell gestures toward the trajectory of Latin America’s exploitation for its labour force in addition to the stagnation that occurs as a result. The galleon, then, traces a linkage between histories of re-sidual Spanish colonial and emergent US neocolonial imperialisms.31 The enchanted region functions as a chronotrope of continual invasion and exploitation present in its very name, ‘la región encantada’, which evokes a notion of space and spectral time. After the banana company leaves and the subsequent five years of raincease, the site, once full of flourishing banana plantations, is now “a bog of rotting roots, on the horizon of which one could manage to see the silent foam of the sea” (p 336).32 The narrator’s description intricately highlights the unnatural ends of imperial legacies. The practice of extracting or harvesting natural resources for commodificationthat has historically sapped Latin America of its natural wealth is symbolised in the leftover decaying roots. The banana company’s abandoned furnishings – which are described as “skeletons” that are covered, eerily, with “red lilies” like the colour of blood – directly parallel the skeleton of the Spanish galleon (p 336). The “silent foam of the sea” further intensifies the symbolism of violence as it is the site where the
SPECIAL ARTICLEDECember 13, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly58physical evidence of neocolonial oppression, the massacred workers, were dumped as well as the very site of entry for the galleon that looms throughout the book. In short, (neo)colonial skeletons plague and haunt Macondo’s past and present. García Márquez, then, fashions a subaltern historical view of modernity that temporally disrupts and reconfigures history to trace and interrogate the regeneration of colonialism. From what scholars of south Asian and Latin American subaltern studies would call their shared “politics of location”, both Senapati and García Márquez use the form of the novel to interrogate hege-monic domination in the justice system, in the realm of cultural production, and in the European ideology of knowledge. Whether they use the structures of knowledge or temporality, Senapati and García Márquez embed their narratives in subaltern hermeneutics that critically interpret the modern colonial world. These herme-neutics generate, to use another term from subaltern studies, a “history from below” through testimonies from below.Testifying against (Neo)Colonial Power BothSix Acres and a Third andOne Hundred Years of Solitude tes-tify against the violation of rights. At the heart of both novels is a crime: inSix Acres and a Third it is the swindling of property and the displacement of Bhagia and Saria whereas inOne Hundred Years of Solitudeit is the massacre and “disappearance” of the banana workers. While the crimes are markedly different in type and in magnitude, both authors are invested in exposing and deconstructing the mechanisms of the crimes’ perpetration. The alternative narratives that emerge about the crimes are central to that design.The orality of Six Acres and a Third must be placed beside the book’s other main governing device: detective inquiry. The nar-rator’s use of irony, signifying, and investigation align with the narrator’s desire to dig below the surface to uncover the deeper truth about the socio-economic organisation and the crimes it en-genders. The text’s evidential framework consists of a series of occurrences, information, data, accounts, and hearsay that are documented and presented as possible explanatory evidence. The narrator plays the role of detective and even judge as he crafts his own “law of evidence” to tell the story of the swindling of the plot of land (p 36). In the process he exposes the executors of the crime, interrogating them along with the systemic causes that allow the crime to occur. The text’s analytical realism is especially clear when the narra-tor presents the justice system as corrupt and biased towards the rich. For instance, the narrator explains that though “English law warns, ‘Watch out…If we obtain legally conclusive proof that you have committed a crime, you shall be punished’ ”, the clever rich man will simply pay off the owner; “under this system, the clever and the rich get off, even though, in truth, they are guilty of hundreds of crimes” (p 85). The narrator gives out this information about extortion in the justice system as he introduces the lives of the weavers Bhagia and Saria for the first time. The aside about the justice system, like all asides in the novel, is as much an aside as it is part of the interaction between the main plot network and the complex series of episodes and examples that shape the narrator’s zigzagged manner of telling mini stories and lessons that relate to the main plot if not through actual events than through their relation to the larger social field mapped by the narrator. The narrator’s sceptical attitude toward the justice system prepares the reader to encounter the police investigations and the testimonies taken down and tailored. Senapati does not, as García Márquez does, incorporate testi-monies in order to directly expose the truth about the crimes; in-stead, he opts for a portrayal of Mangaraj’s trial that makes it clear that Mangaraj gets off too easily. Yet, Senapati’s use of verbal testimonies, especially in the ‘Police Inquiry’ chapter, is important because he uses them to level critiques of the State apparatus.33 Those who testify are asked to enter into official discourse through a series of identifications that mark them as subjects in categories readable and classifiable to the dominant system. Each “witness” is forced to give her or his name, father’s name, caste, age, profes-sion, village, subdivision, and district. Such identification how-ever, is not relevant to the witnesses’ senses of self. For instance, Marua’s age is listed as “unknown” (p 160), for his profession Sana Rana gives “worshipper of the village goddess” before “farmer” (p 158), and Champa claims she does not even know her father’s name and states her caste as “I belong to this house” (p 164). The villagers’ resistance to or perhaps even inability to identify under the official classification points to their alternative value-system, a system of values that, as discussed previously, is given central importance. The testifiers are weary of the official appara-tus of investigation, especially since violence often becomes the means to coercing testimony. Still, the knowledge articulated by the minor characters in the testimonies is important to the novel’s gradual deciphering of the crime and its aftermath. Justice in the end is done because Mangaraj loses his property and falls into disgrace, his house and life becoming like an “empty shell” similar to the empty shell of the Spanish galleon inOne Hundred Years of Solitude(p 209). Nevertheless, like in García Márquez’s text, oppressive rule is simply reinstated. As the villag-ers deftly recognise, “No matter who becomes the next master, we will remain his slaves” (p 206). Tied into modern colonial methods of control, the rural landowner is not by any means de-feated because landowners are replaceable. The hierarchies of power have not changed – power has simply changed hands. Similar in function to Senapati’s analytical realist novel that uses a subaltern village view to expose the manipulations involved in appropriating property, García Márquez’s marvellous realist novel utilises a subaltern oral history to expose the political re-pression and discursive distortions manipulated to produce hege-monic history. García Márquez demonstrates exactly how this official version is created – through a combination of censorship and State disseminated documents – to demystify the means by which the State erases subaltern histories. The events of the strike and massacre are modified, narrated, and concretised by State decree and the “official version, repeated a thousand times and mangled out all over the county by every means of communication the government found at hand, was finally accepted: there were no dead, the satisfied workers had gone back to their families” (p 316). With time, the erasure is total: “everything had been set forth in judicial documents and in primary-school textbooks: that the banana company had never existed” (p 396). Despite the official version

“subordinated or marginal groups select and invent from materials transmitted to them by a dominant or metropolitan culture. While subjugated peoples cannot readily control what emanates from the dominant culture, they do determine to varying extents what they absorb into their own and what they use it for


magical realism involves the intentionality implicit in the conventions of the two modes…[R]ealism intends its version of the world as a singular version, as an objective (hence universal) representation of nature and social realities – in short, that realism functions ideologically and hegemonically. Magical realism also functions ideologically but…less hegemonically, for its programme is not centralising but eccentric: it creates space for interactions of diversity. In magical realist texts ontological disruption serves the purpose of political and cultural disruption: magic is often given as a cultural corrective, requiring readers to scrutinise realistic conventions of causality, materiality, motivation…. A number of the writers…self-consciously recuperate non-western cultural modes and nonliterary forms in their western form [i e, the novel]….[M]agical realism may be considered an extension of realism in its concern with the nature of reality and its representation, at the same time that it resists the basic assumptions of post-enlightenment rationalism and literary realism.” Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B Faris, ‘Introduction: Daiquiri Blends and Flaubertian Parrot(ie)s’ in Lois Parkinson Zamora and Wendy B Faris (eds), Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community, Duke University Press, Durham, 1995, 3-4, 6. The point I want to stress here is the modification of realist western forms through non-western cultural modes in order to offer a corrective perspective.

10 Robin Fiddian, ‘Introduction’ in Robin Fiddian (ed), García Márquez, Longman, New York, 1995, 17. Critics continue to debate the origin, form, politics, characteristics of, and even the terminology for marvellous/ magical realism. Many have criticised the vagueness and variety of definitions, yet there is still no scholarly consensus on whether marvellous/magical realism is a genre, a narrative mode, a literary movement, an aesthetic practice, a stylistic, a world view, etc. For early essays that consider how marvellous realism engages in political struggle through its literary form, see Alexis and Dash in particular; for later formal political considerations, see Chanady, Martin, and Slemon in particular. For differing discussions of marvellous realism’s origins and characteristics, see Angulo, Durix, Flores, González Echeverría, Leal, Menton, Richi and Schroeder. For a range of essays exploring marvellous realism globally, see Zamora and Faris’ anthology.

11 For in-depth analyses of the trope of marvellous wonder, see Greenblatt and Chiampi. For analyses of the García Márquez’s revision of European travel narratives, see González Echeverría, Robles, Palencia-Roth, and Zavala.

12 García Márquez is famous for claiming he represents reality as it is. In El olor de la guayaba he asserts: “Everyday life in Latin America has shown that reality is full of extraordinary things….I know people from the village who have read One Hundred Years of Solitude with much enjoyment and much attentiveness but without a single surprise because in the end I don’t tell anything that does not appear in the lives that they live….There is not a single line in my novels that is not based in reality”. Gabriel García Márquez, El olor de la guayaba, Madrid Cátedra, 1983, 36-67, translation mine.See also his “Fantasía y creación”.

13 The scene is based on the United Fruit Company Massacre in Ciénaga, Colombia in 1928. The same General Carlos Cortés Vargas named in the novel was the military leader in charge of putting down the strike. See note 34. Many literary scholars have analysed the massacre episode; see, for example, Alvarez Gardeazábal, Angulo, Bell-Villada, Janes, Martin, Mena and Saldívar.

14 The idea of alternative modernities has been arti culated by a number of scholars in different disciplines using a variety of terms. Alongside Goankar’s edited collection of essays, see, for example, Latin Americans Walter Mignolo, Julio Ramos and Beatriz Sarlo’s respective work on “subaltern modernities”, “divergent modernities” and “peripheral modernities”.

15 Importantly, the narrator also relies on a nonconventionally realist form of storytelling. The n arrator claims to abide by a Franklinian philosophy of “thrift” in recounting the story, implying that the economics of the plot will be scant, linear, and direct ly to the point so as to not waste paper, breath, or time (p 40). Playing into and then f rustrating readers’ expectations of realist narrative development, the novel is full of digressions, double- layered meanings, and stories not directly related to the plot development. Thus, the organisational composition of the novel is not at all linear let alone economic in its telling by conventional standards. Yet, the narrator does recount what is salient. He, thus, challenges the reader to reconsider both the modes traditionally used to communicate what is important and the manner in which value is traditionally assigned to judge the relevancy of information. See Anjaria for an analysis linking Senapati’s mocking of literary restraint and economy to c olonialist political and religious r eforms (p 4796).

16 The implied gender of the narrator is male. However, Paul L Sawyer points out the novel’s feminisation of the oral tradition, showing how the narrator aligns himself with a discourse that is gendered female (p 5786). See Claire Horan for a discussion of gender relations and the representations of women in the novel.

17 Henry Louis Gates, Jr defines signifyin’ asthe linguistic technique of repeating, imitating, revising, parodying, and critiquing the nature of meaning and representation. When used as a rhetorical technique, signifyin(g) “is the figurative difference between the literal and the metaphorical, between surface and latent meaning” and it “presupposes an ‘encoded’ intention to say one thing but to mean quite another”. Henry Louis Gates, The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism, Oxford University Press, New York, 1988, 82.

18 Senapati also critiques the assimilation-oriented English-educated Babus throughout the novel, but the critiques are complimented by an alternative option to assimilation: transculturation. The novel thematically meditates on the ways in which Oriyas can creatively use British culture at the same time that it stylistically enacts that creative transculturation by merging Oriya oral and British novel forms.

19 García Márquez was a member of the grupo de Barranquilla, a group of costal Caribbean intellectuals and artists who sought, among other things, to change the fact that Colombian fiction was dominated by those from the interior of Colombia (especially the capital Bogotá) and was based on costumbrista,nationalist, and terrígena elements. García Márquez’s novel is full of local costal sayings and slang (ranging from guineo to vaina), costal phenomenon (such as the yellow butterflies and the arroyo flooding), and costal cultural traditions (such as carnaval and vallenato music). In relation to language politics, costal Spanish was not considered appropriate literary Spanish, and many from the capital and the interior regions looked down on it (and still do today). García Márquez deliberately elevates the “low” denigrated vernacular of the Coast to the level of “high” literature, carving a literary space for colloquial and regional speech. See Gaganendra Nath Dash for an excellent analysis of Senapati’s important contribution to Oriya-language literature and his novel’s linguistic politics.

20 Ivan Ulchur Collazos describes it this way: “An anti-conventional word of little decency that is still not worthy of being in the Real Academia [Española] dictionary, el mamagallismo is perhaps the most appropriate term to define not only a person but also a cultural context that presupposes the ideal space of the most insolent parody, irreverence, and hyperbole”. Ivan Ulchur Collazos, Garcia Marquez: Del humor yotros dominios, Quito, Eskeletra Editorial, 1997, 134-35 (translation mine). See his detailed analysis of the types of humor and paradox produced through the novel’s mamadera de gallo.

21 Several examples of the narrator mamando gallo are: He embellishes the stereotypes of the costeño from the Caribbean coast as parrandero (the constant and consummate partier) through Aureliano Segundo and the cachaca from the interior as cold, elitist, and serious through Fernanda del Carpio. He exaggerates fecundity through Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s 17 illegitimate sons and Petra Cotes’ procreating animals, which are also critically symbolic of the prosperity of the banana company era. And he parodies Colonel Aureliano Buendía’s fighting 32 civil war campaigns and mocks the indistinguishability of the Liberals and the Conservatives to warn against the co-opting of revolutionary activities.

22 I retain the term in Spanish here to highlight what I think is García Márquez’s conscious use of “antropófago” instead of “caníbal”. I believe that the former term makes a subtle but clear alignment between García Márquez’s marvellous realism and the Brazilian antropofagía movement, a connection that has not yet been discussed in literary scholarship. The novel can be read as an extension of the Brazilian aesthetic project of antropofagía, which was essentially intended as a critical consumption of European aesthetic modes, discourses, and world views. Antropofagía embraced the image of

DECember 13, 2008 EPW Economic & Political Weekly

The “masacre de las bananeras”, as it was termed at the time, was reported by General Carlos Cortés Vargas, condemned via several newspapers and radios reports, and even brought before the National Assembly by

1928 for a collection of Castrillón’s and Gaitán’s speeches before Congress and Cortés Vargas for his rendition of the events. Eduardo



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