From St. Augustine to Salman Rushdie: Time and Narrative in Minority Literature

Randy S. Boyagoda


This article proposes that prevailing approaches to postcolonial and
pluralist literatures focus the majority of attention on critiques of
Western ideology and in so doing, inadvertently perpetuate the erasure of
minority human experiences. To redress this tendency in contemporary
literary studies, this article proposes that Paul Ricoeur's narrative and
temporal theory, with its emphasis upon the acting and suffering human
subject as the proper focus for all scholarship, provides a substantial
counterbalance to the now-conventional theorems of scholars such as Homi
Bhabha. Via a synthesis of Augustinian and Aristotelian thought, Ricoeurs
three-volume Time and Narrative seeks to resolve the relationship between
temporal experience and narrative understanding, between history and
literature. He considers this impetus, founded finally upon a personalist
norm, to be of principal importance when examining works that treat of
historys forgotten and defeated, which in turn invites reengagements with
literature emerging from postcolonial and pluralist settings, including
Salman Rushdies Midnights Children and Ralph Ellisons Invisible Man.


Minority Literature and Paul Ricoeur's theory of narrative

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