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Reading: Failures in Decolonization and ‘the Return to the Past’: Reading V.S. Naipaul


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Failures in Decolonization and ‘the Return to the Past’: Reading V.S. Naipaul


Mahesh Hapugoda

Department of Languages, Faculty of Social Sciences and Languages,Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka., LK
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This study examines the failures in decolonization and its political outcomes leading to a phenomenon called ‘totalitarianism’ in a transitional post-colonial context, as characterized in the works of V.S. Naipaul. It attempts to articulate how the post-colonial nations, once ‘abandoned’ by their Colonial Masters and then taken over by unsuccessful indigenous rulers, have encountered symptomatic political development within themselves ‘as finite limitations of their existence’ as they have emerged and are ideologically embedded in a historically affected consciousness (Gadamer 2006). To escape from the humiliation, dislocation, anxiety, jealousies and alienation generated by modern secularism and rationalism transmitted through colonialism itself, they seem to ‘return’ (Amin 2014: 81) to an ideology largely borrowed from history and tradition as ‘retrogressive nostalgia’ for today’s and tomorrow’s problems, which ultimately results in nothing but violent totalitarianism. In such transitional contexts where societies still struggle to come to terms with modernity, though the material conditions of life improved, the shift in mentality (Miao 2000) from one condition to a completely unprepared and unexpected phase remains crucial. The destructive energy that is often used against the universal civilizing force is seen here as a ‘compensation for the pain suffered through the disintegration of traditional forms of live’ (Habermas 2007: 102). This study, with the support of contemporary philosophical, political, literary and psychoanalytical interventions, dialectically examines how such symptomatic developments are empirically explored in the fictional and biographical works by V.S. Naipaul.
How to Cite: Hapugoda, M., 2016. Failures in Decolonization and ‘the Return to the Past’: Reading V.S. Naipaul. Sabaragamuwa University Journal, 14(1), pp.59–86. DOI:
Published on 01 May 2016.
Peer Reviewed


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