In After Empire Michael Gorra explores how three novelists of empire—Paul Scott, V. S. Naipaul, and Salman Rushdie—have charted the perpetually drawn and perpetually blurred boundaries of identity left in the wake of British imperialism.
Arguing against a model of cultural identity based on race, Gorra begins with Scott's portrait, in The Raj Quartet, of the character Hari Kumar—a seeming oxymoron, an "English boy with a dark brown skin," whose very existence undercuts the belief in an absolute distinction between England and India. He then turns to the opposed figures of Naipaul and Rushdie, the two great novelists of the Indian diaspora. Whereas Naipaul's long and controversial career maps the "deep disorder" spread by both imperialism and its passing, Rushdie demonstrates that certain consequences of that disorder, such as migrancy and mimicry, have themselves become creative forces.
After Empire provides engaging and enlightening readings of postcolonial fiction, showing how imperialism helped shape British national identity—and how, after the end of empire, that identity must now be reconfigured.
Filmed in1966 and ’67, but kept from release for twenty years, The Commissar is unquestionably one of the most important and compelling films of the Soviet era. Based on a short story by Vasily Grossman, it tells of a female Red Army commissar who is forced to stay with a Jewish family near the frontlines of the battle between the Red and White Armies as she waits to give birth. The film drew the ire of censors for its frank portrayal of the violence faced by Russian Jews in the wake of the revolution.
This book is the first companion to the film in any language. It recounts the film’s plot and turbulent production history, and it also offers a close analysis of the artistic vision of its director, Aleksandr Askoldov, and the ways that viewers can trace in the film not only his complex aesthetics, but also the personal crises he endured in the years leading up to the film. The result is an indispensable companion to an unforgettable film.