Writing/ Reading the Subaltern Woman: Narrative Voice and Subaltern Agency in Upamanyu Chatterjee’s English, August

Krupa Shandilya


In this paper I contend that since the telling of the subaltern story is always already caught in the narrative of the elite, our work as literary critics and feminist scholars is to read the elite narrative as a literary construction underpinned by the narrator’s class position and location in order to unpack the layers of subaltern consciousness embedded in it.
More specifically, I argue that in Upamanyu Chatterjee’s novel English, August: An Indian Story, the elite characters’ narrativization of the tribal woman renders her a subaltern figure. I suggest that the subaltern subject of this novel complicates the category of subalternity because she is able to act and think the political even as she stands outside of it.


subaltern; feminist agency; postcolonial literature; politics of representation; homosociality

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