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The postcolonial unconscious /

"The Postcolonial Unconscious is a major attempt to reconstruct the whole field of postcolonial studies. In this magisterial and, at times, polemical study, Neil Lazarus argues that the key critical concepts that form the very foundation of the field need to be re-assessed and questioned. Drawing on...

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Main Author: Lazarus, Neil, 1953-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 2011
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Review by Choice Review

For more than two decades, Lazarus (Univ. of Warwick, UK) has been a major figure in postcolonial studies, authoring Nationalism and Cultural Practice in the Postcolonial World (CH, Dec'99, 37-2229) and editing the definitive Cambridge Companion to Postcolonial Literary Studies (CH, Mar'05, 42-3872). Yet here he sets out to demonstrate that "in its prevailing and consolidated aspect," postcolonial studies has "not been adequate" to the realities of the postcolonial world; indeed, it has "served fairly systematically to mystify it." Lazarus demonstrates the cumulative errors of postcolonial criticism. He shows that it has sampled too little of the vast body of postcolonial literature produced since the late 1950s, concentrating instead on a small, insufficiently representative canon. He offers a persuasive analysis of the ways in which imperialism, then colonialism, and now neocolonialism have shaped the context in which postcolonial literature is created; yet, Lazarus argues, this context is neglected in much of the scholarship, as is the strong national sentiment or consciousness of postcolonial countries that is either overlooked or represented as a politically problematic "nationalism." Perhaps the book's greatest achievement is in the chapter on the misguided theories of representation that have deformed so much allegedly well-theorized postcolonial criticism. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and advanced scholars, particularly the latter. K. Tololyan Wesleyan University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.