Search for a Third Space: A Postcolonial Reading of the Bilingual Writer in Indian Literary Scenario, through Manoj Das as a Case Study

Amarjeet Nayak
In spite of the apparent heterogeneity of the literary scene in India, it is now increasingly perceived in terms of just two literary traditions-Indian Writing in English and Regional Language Literatures. In such a scenario, the bilingual writer in India who writes in English and a regional language is not considered holistically as his literary outputs in the two languages are evaluated in exclusive terms. This paper, through Manoj Das as a case study, attempts to present a model of holistic
more » ... model of holistic reception of the bilingual writer, taking recourse in postcolonial theory, especially Homi Bhabha's concept of 'hybrid third space'. Even though literatures in several languages, including English, flourish in India, the multilingual Indian literary scenario is marked by the existence of Indian Writing in English (hereafter, IWE) and Regional Language Literatures (hereafter, RLL), the two literary traditions that are often seen as binary opposites. This oppositional framework between IWE and RLL leads to the strange predicament of the bilingual writer (who writes in English as well as in one of the several regional languages in India) where s/he is perceived as a dual personality with his two identities as an Indian writer in English and a regional language writer not being seen to complement each other, but instead as two mutually exclusive categories. In this paper, my contention is that a holistic approach is needed by which the complete oeuvre of such a bilingual writer can be assessed where IWE and RLL are seen as complementing each other in various ways. Here I would like to look at this issue of IWE and RLL working in an oppositional framework from within the framework of postcolonial theory since it has important implications for it. Using postcolonial theory is imperative for the current study which deals with a bilingual writer who writes in English and a regional language, since one of the concerns of postcolonial theory is the relationship or power dynamics between English and regional languages. Hence, it is my endeavor to use postcolonial theory to see how it has looked at this binary opposition and how it may be used to examine the work of a bilingual writer. I shall use Manoj Das, a bilingual writer from India who writes in English and Oriya as a case study for this purpose. Here, it is pertinent to explain the choice of Manoj Das as a case study. Das is a prolific bilingual writer writing for about five decades now and has almost an equal number of works in both English and Oriya. Apart from writing original pieces in both languages, he also keeps translating his works from one language to another with great regularity. Hence, he comes across as a representative bilingual writer in the Indian literary scene. The fact that an unequal power relationship exists between the two languages of the bilingual writer's choice contributes in no small measure to the creation and sustenance of the binary. It is pertinent to note here that 'power' is a major concept in postcolonial discourse. According to Foucault, 'discourse' is a system of statements