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South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century BritainCulture in Translation$
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Ruvani Ranasinha

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199207770

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199207770.001.0001

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Self-translation as Self-promotion:

Self-translation as Self-promotion:

(p.68) 2 Self-translation as Self-promotion:
South Asian Writers in Twentieth-Century Britain

Nirad C. Chaudhuri

M. J. Tambimuttu

Oxford University Press

Early ‘Asiatic’ writers, seen as exotic and oriental outsiders, were also often expected to embody ‘foreignness’, and provide ‘alien’ perspectives on Britain, usually in prescribed terms. This chapter explores the contrasting modes of ‘domesticating’ and ‘foreignising’ self-translation reproduced respectively in the writings of the self-Westernised Nirad Chaudhuri and M. J. Tambimuttu. After coming to Britain in 1938, the equally anglicised Tambimuttu adopted a self-consciously ‘Asian’ cultural identity that embodied ideas about the East produced in the West. Such assertions of cultural difference, pre-shaped in orientalist terms for Western consumption, do not transform the centre, and offer a marked contrast to Mulk Raj Anand and Raja Rao's politicised efforts to nativise Standard English and to ‘Indianise’ the European novel. Unlike Anand who moved in radical political circles, on arrival in Britain Tambimuttu gravitated towards counter-cultural aesthetic movements. Tracing Chaudhuri's and Tambimuttu's varied development from the 1940s and 1950s onwards, this chapter shows that ironically Tambimuttu's self-reinvention as an ‘Asian’ allowed him to engage and be absorbed into his new environments to a far greater extent than the self-colonised Chaudhuri.

Keywords:   Nirad Chaudhuri, M. J. Tambimuttu, Asiatic writers, Britain, foreignness, self-translation, cultural identity, East, West, self-reinvention

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