ABJECTIFYING THE OTHER: A STUDY OF ENTOMOLOGICAL AND VERMINOUS TROPE IN ROHINTON MISTRY’S A FINE BALANCE

  • Dr Muhammad Shoaib Govt. Graduate College for Boys Gulberg Lahore
Keywords: Rohinton Mistry, abjection, insects, verminous, dehumanization, Emergency

Abstract

This article on Indian-Canadian novelist Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance (1996) traces the entomological and verminous trope in the novel in order to establish a link between insects and the suppressed sections of Indian society. The research has been prompted by a scarcity of scholarly material on Mistry’s abundant use of entomological and verminous imagery throughout his fiction. Addressing this gap, I argue that Mistry makes a significant intervention in the literary discourse on the Indian Emergency, imposed by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1975, by making visible the dehumanization and plight of the people on the margins of the society. Employing Julia Kristeva’s notion of abjection (1982) as a theoretical framework, the essay contends that the multitudes of insects wriggling into the novel are symptomatic of the creatureliness of the underprivileged human beings and their positioning beyond the boundary of common humanity and ethical responsiveness during the Emergency. Through an explication of the four main characters’ multiple encounters with worms and insects, the novel problematizes and contests the narratives of idealism woven around the Emergency by those in power. Attending to the notions of repulsion, fragility and infestation commonly associated with abject creatures, the article analyses the role of the political ideology in producing optimal conditions to obfuscate the vulnerability of the disenfranchised and the homeless.

References

Arya, Rina. 2007. Abjection and Representation. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Brown, Eric C. 2007. “Talking Insects.” Antennae, 10(1): 4-7. https://www.zin.ru/ANIMALIA/Coleoptera/pdf/antennae_3-1.pdf.
Calabrese, Diane M. 2008. “Literature and Insects.” In Encyclopedia of Entomology, edited by J Capinera, 2207-2211. Gainesville: Springer.
Candelaria, Mathew. 2006. “Biophobia: The Verminous Incursion into Human Cultural Forms.” PhD diss., University of Kansas.
Cirlot, J.E. 2001. A Dictionary of Symbols. Translated by Jack Sage. London: Routledge.
Clarke, Bruce. 1995. Allegories of Writing: The Subject of Metamorphosis. Albany: State University of New York Press.
Douglas, Mary. 2002. Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London: Routledge.
Egerer, Claudia. 2016. “Insects, Worlds, and the Poetic in Coetzee’s Writing.” Textual Practice 30(3): 493–508. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0950236X.2016.1158940.
Filipczak, Iwona. 2016. “Of Worms and Insects—Metaphors of the Human Condition in Selected John Updike’s Novels.” In Proceedings of the 4th International Conference of English and American Studies, edited by Crhova M. and Weiss M. Opava, 182. Opava: Silesian University Opava,
Johnson, J. W. 2015. “Beggaring the Nation”: Bodily Inscription and the Body Politic in Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance.” Studies in Canadian Literature/Études en littérature canadienne 40(1):146-165. https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/SCL/article/view/24285.
Kellert, Stephen R. 1993. “Values and Perceptions of Invertebrates.” Conservation Biology 7(4): 845–55. https://conbio.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1046/j.1523-1739.1993.740845.x.
Kelman, Herbert C. 1973. “Violence without Moral Restraint: Reflections on the Dehumanization of Victims and Victimizers.” Journal of Social Issues 29(4): 25–61. DOI: 10.4324/9781315086859-8.
Kristeva, Julia. 1982. Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection. Translated by Leon S. Roudiez, New York: Columbia UP.
Mantel, Hilary. 2000. “States of Emergency.” In India: A Mosaic, edited by Robert B Silvers and Barbara Epstein,181-93. New York: New York Review of Books,
Mistry, Rohinton. 1996. A Fine Balance. London: Faber and Faber.
Morey, Peter. 2004. Rohinton Mistry. Manchester: Manchester UP.
¬¬ Morey, Peter. 2001. “Terrible Beautification: Body Politics in Rohinton Mistry’s A Fine Balance.” In Unhinging Hinglish: The Languages and Politics of Fiction in English from the Indian Subcontinent, edited by Nanette Hale and Tabish Khairpp, 75-88. Copenhagen: MT Press.
Rother, Adeline. 2017. “Becoming Zoö-curious: Reading Sexual Differences in the Field of Animal Life.” Humanimalia 8(2): 87-107. https://www.depauw.edu/humanimalia/issue%2016/rother.html
Slosson, Annie Trumbull. 1916. “Entomology and Literature.” Bulletin of the Brooklyn Entomological Society 11(3): 49-52.
Smith, David Livingstone. 2011. Less than Human. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
Tarlo, Emma. 2003. Unsettling Memories: Narratives of India’s ‘Emergency’. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Thiyagarjan, Nandini. 2016. “’Like Words Printed on Skin’: Desire, Animal Masks, and Multispecies Relationships in Monique Truong’s The Book of Salt.” In Creatural Fictions: Human-animal Relationships in Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Literature, edited by David Herman, 193-213. New York: Palgrave-Macmillan.
Tyler, Imogen. 2013. Revolting Subjects. London: Zed Books.
Published
2023-12-10
How to Cite
Dr Muhammad Shoaib. (2023). ABJECTIFYING THE OTHER: A STUDY OF ENTOMOLOGICAL AND VERMINOUS TROPE IN ROHINTON MISTRY’S A FINE BALANCE. International Bulletin of Linguistics and Literature (IBLL), 6(4), 15-33. Retrieved from http://ibll.com.pk/index.php/ibll/article/view/171