Commonwealth Literature: An Essay Towards the Re-definition of a Popular / Counter Culture



(Vision Press, 1983)




"Commonwealth Literature or New Writing in English is in need of the kind of criticism provided by Alamgir Hashmi, [a writer and professor], in this intelligent and perceptive essay."  Haydn Moore Williams, CRNLE Reviews Journal

"An original, authoritative and learned piece of work whose historical resources and theoretical insights are timely."  S. B. Hasan, Director of Humanities, Punjab Textbook Board

"Alamgir Hashmi's neat little book is not just another study of Commonwealth writers in English. He approaches the subject from a refreshingly new angle and in its more fundamental aspects... It is an inspiring idealistic framework for a study of Commonwealth Literature...."  O. P. Mathur, The Journal of Indian Writing in English

"Hashmi's thesis, that English writing responds to its environment and is closely related to the society in which it takes place, is full of interest."  Peter Simpson, Span

"Hashmi's essay sketches a viable, unifying approach to the diverse Commonwealth English literatures in multilingual, postcolonial societies."  Michael Thorpe, World Literature Today

"His perspective is not the usual nationalist-internationalist contrast and is particularly useful because he shows that such opposites are falsifications...English has become a means of seeing beyond the ethnic group or the nation-state to the shared knowledge and culture of the modern world...Hashmi is within the traditions of the liberal analysis of the relation of culture to politics and society...Literature is seen as a criticism of life, a quarrel between the self and society's repressions of desire, and as part of modern adversary culture in contrast to traditionalism. Traditionalism, nationalism, indigenization, are a postcolonial version of repression of the self; it is from the quarrel between self and society that literature and a living culture are created."  Bruce King, Research in African Literatures

"This is a pioneering work of literary scholarship dealing with contemporary literary theory in application to the literatures in English on a global and comparative scale. Its ambition is matched well both by the intelligence which informs particular readings and by the lucid style which shapes its arguments into a theory of the worldwide Commonwealth literature...That, in fact, may be its most significant contribution: apart from offering the ways and means by which it tackles certain problems of historiography, interpretation and comparison, it has raised issues and opened up important avenues of inquiry and research which will occupy scholars for the next few decades. Professor Alamgir Hashmi, a poet and a critic of distinction, writes incisively and with a deep feeling for his subject in this unique monograph, which should place him among the very best as a critic, historian and theorist."  The Nation