The IUP Journal of English Studies
Negotiating Place, Memory, and Identity in M G Vassanji's The Assassin's Song: A Humanistic Geographical Perspective

Article Details
Pub. Date : March, 2019
Product Name : The IUP Journal of English Studies
Product Type : Article
Product Code : IJES41903
Author Name : Krupa Sophia Jeyachandran and Urvashi Kaushal**
Availability : YES
Subject/Domain : English Studies
Download Format : PDF Format
No. of Pages : 12



The paper explores the concepts of place, memory, and identity in M G Vassanji's The Assassin's Song in the light of humanistic geography which arose as a reaction to spatial sciences in the 1950s and the 1960s. As far as the basic meaning of the word "place" is concerned, it involves location, an area, or a specific direction. In the realm of humanistic geography, place is endowed with meaning, memory, and experience, and it provides a base to carry out the sociocultural practices associated with daily life. Karsan's life in Pirbaag as an adolescent and as an aspiring student at Boston-Harvard, his married life with Marge Thompson in Canada, his new identity as Krishna Fazl while working as a professor in a college in British Columbia, his familial life and tragedy in the form of his only son's death, his return to India, his research period at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla, and finally his getting back to his roots and assuming the role of the Saheb (spiritual leader) of Pirbaag are a testament to the view that place determines one's experiences and thereby plays a decisive role in the shaping of identity.


With a myriad of theories foregrounding the analysis and interpretation of literary texts, the contemporary critical scenario in literature has witnessed a metamorphic transformation by heralding fresh approaches and latest insights every passing day. The elucidation of a particular text is cautiously maneuvered from wide-ranging angles which fruitfully necessitates further scope for research. The Assassin's Song by M G Vassanji is predominantly set in India, unlike Vassanji's other novels which are located mainly in Kenya or Tanzania. With the very word "located," the idea of place comes into play. This brings us to the rumination on geography which has place at its very core. The impact of place on human beings and their interrelationship is what humanistic geography is all about. This paper examines the meaning of place as expounded in humanistic geography and aligns it to The Assassin's Song.


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