Desiring the Metropolis: The Anti-Aesthetic and Semicolonial Modernism

Saikat Majumdar


This essay argues that one of the lasting legacies of British modernism is a concern with the motifs of banality and boredom. The banal, moreover, has not only been an aesthetic category, but it has also carried with it a specific set of political implications, often linked to the power structures and conflicts involved in colonialism and its aftermath. Reading fiction by two canonical modernists - James Joyce from Ireland, and Katherine Mansfield from New Zealand, in this essay, I seek to show how local conceptualizations of banality and boredom have embodied critiques of colonial domination and markers of hybrid postcolonial identities within modernist traditions across the British Commonwealth.


James Joyce, Katherine Mansfield

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