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Ultraminor Literature in a Major Language

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An Indian Way of Thinking the Case of Chemmeen in Malayalam

image of Journal of World Literature

Deleuze and Guattari list out three characteristics of a minor literature—it is written in a major language from a marginalized position; its nature is thoroughly political; and it has a collective value. Yet, as this article shows by taking the case of T.S. Pillai’s Malayalam novel Chemmeen (1956) and its various afterlives, world literatures illuminate greater varieties of scale and of characteristics than can readily be covered by a single binary opposition between minor versus major, local versus global, original versus translation, singular versus plural. The concept of ultraminor literature, especially in the South Asian context, thus gives us a chance to engage with an undefined space that archives historical, translational, political, linguistic, idiosyncratic, and aesthetic tales of a text within and outside its tradition.

Affiliations: 1: University of Houston


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