Autobiography,Travel and Postnational Identity: Gandhi, Nehru and Iqbal
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Professor of English and Comparative Literature, King’s College, London
This book shows that the ‘travelling autobiographies’ of Gandhi, Nehru, and Iqbal differed from earlier traditions of nineteenth-century Indian and colonial travel writing by expressing ideas of selfhood outside overarching notions of nation or nationhood. Developing this line of enquiry into ties between the self, travel and anti-colonial lifewriting, the book examines Gandhi’s stage fright and shyness as part of a larger gender politics and discusses the politics of translation and truthfulness in his reading of the Gita. The stylistic devices used by Nehru in his writings to evoke his distinctive sense of self in relation to travel are explored as part of his resistance to narrow national identities, and Iqbal’s poetry is reinterpreted as a form of travelling autobiography which reconceives Islam in relation to Western modernity.
‘Majeed concludes that what all three have in common is not just their fusion of the form of a travelogue, with the genre of autobiography, but their interiorisation of travel, to such an extent that, in case of Nehru and Iqbal, for different reasons, locations and time travel become independent of physical movement…This is a refreshingly different book where the analyses of the writings of these three great men in depth show their political self-empowerment through realisation of selfhood.’
K.R.A. Narasiah, The Hindu