The Question of Ideology in Amitav Ghosh's the Hungry Tide

5019 Words Jul 25th, 2011 21 Pages
The Question of Ideology in Amitav Ghosh’s The Hungry Tide
The stalwarts of Indian writing in English like Salman Rushdie, Khushwant Singh, Mukul Kesavan, Vikram Chandra, Amitav Ghosh and the like, are writing in a postcolonial space using novel as a means of cultural representation. Their novels are generally assumed to be engaged in postcolonial consciousness but a close study of the thematic range proves that the novels also attempt to universalized humanistic gesture, for human nature and social relationships are as important as the interplay of power and national relationships. Twentieth century novelists were preoccupied with the historic past and the unabated interest of the readers in the novels that depicted the past or that
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In a famed architectural metaphor, Marx represented ideology as a ‘superstructure’ of which the concurrent socioeconomic system is the ‘base’. Friedrich Engels described ideology as ‘a false consciousness,’ and many later Marxists consider it to be constituted largely by unconscious prepossessions that are illusory, in contrast to the ‘scientific’ (that is, Marxist) knowledge of the economic determinants, historical evolution, and present constitution of the social world. A farther claim is that, in the present era of capitalist economic organization that emerged during the eighteenth century, the reigning ideology incorporates the interests of the dominant and exploitative class, the ‘bourgeoisie,’ who are the owners of the means of production and distribution, as opposed to the ‘proletariat,’ or wage-earning working class. (Abrams 148)
The influential British literary theorist Terry Eagleton has long ago declared in his epoch-making book Criticism and Ideology : A Study in Marxist Literary Theory that “Nobody has yet come up with a single adequate definition of ideology…” However, in his influential reconsideration of the nature of ideology, French Strucuralist Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser opposes its definition as simply ‘false consciousness’; he declares instead that
…ideologies vary according to the form and practices of each mode of
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