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Postcolonial Criticism History, Theory and the Work of Fiction by Nicholas Harrison

Postcolonial Criticism History, Theory and the Work of Fiction


Postcolonial Criticism History, Theory and the Work of Fiction by Nicholas Harrison

In the field of postcolonial studies, the full richness and complexity of the connections between literature, history and ideology are often overlooked by critics hurrying to stake out their political positions. As a result, many arguments are built on unjustified assumptions about the sort of work that literature -- and criticism -- can and cannot do. In this important and timely book, Harrison sheds new light on what is actually at issue in postcolonial criticism. Focusing on a series of major works, from Conrad's Heart of Darkness to Djebar's autobiography, via Camus's The Outsider and Fanon's polemics, the book draws on and elucidates a wide range of theoretical and critical work. To students unfamiliar with postcolonial criticism it offers a way into the field via key issues and specific examples rather than abstract theoretical summary, while for those already working in the area it raises crucial questions about the very basis of postcolonial critical practice. Postcolonial Criticism is a major intervention in the field of postcolonial studies which re-examines critical suppositions about reading and representation, and which calls into question established notions about the relations between literature and colonialism.


This book is impressive both in its approach to postcolonial critical theory and in its methodology. Harrison deals with issues and texts that have been at the center of critical debates in postcolonial theory, but he approaches the familiar materials with innovativeness and brings new insights to his subject. Simon Gikandi, University of Michigan This superb study is true to its title. Harrisona s sophisticated reading practice avoids the twin errors of reducing fiction to its conditions of production or detaching texts from their historical ground. In reconsidering the canonical texts of postcolonial studies and examining the fictions of North American writers, Harrison effects a significant advance in understanding both the worldliness and a literarinessa of these diverse writings. His nuanced engagement with modes of reception, and his considered critique of the norms of interpretation, constitute a significant intervention in the field. Benita Parry, University of Warwick

About the Author

Nicholas Harrison is Reader in French and Comparative Literature at King's College London.

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Book Info

Publication date

3rd March 2003


Nicholas Harrison

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Polity Press


232 pages


Literary theory
Literary studies: general
Cultural studies



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