After Amnesia – G.N. Devy


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After Amnesia is an original analysis of literary criticism in India. It describes what is recognized by common agreement as a crisis in Indian criticism and explains it in historical terms.
Devy argues that the colonial experience in India gave rise to false images of the ancient Indian past as well as the modern West and induced a state of ‘cultural amnesia’ and mistaken modes of literary criticism. It is this amnesia that is responsible for the belief among literary historians that accounting for critical tradition is necessary while constructing history of literature in modern Indian languages. Is it not conceivable for the languages like Marathi and Gujarati to have produced great literature for half a millennium without feeling the need to developing corresponding form of literary criticism? The author suggests that a proper assessment of literary criticism in Indian languages will become possible by postulating a more reliable literary history.
Drawing upon Marathi and Gujarati and occasionally on Indian English—criticism, the author maintains that the crisis in contemporary literary criticism is caused primarily by a lapse in cultural memory. Since criticism that develops from a misleading historiography is ill-equipped to break new theoretical ground, the book also proposes a tentative historiography of Indian criticism.
This paperback edition is being re-issued to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its first publication in 1992. It includes a new chapter in which the author discusses the effects of the momentous changes that took place since the book was first published and their impact on the languages and linguistic creativity in India. He also details the nature of the profound changes that natural memory is undergoing due to the information technology and points to its impact on the nature of literary imagination.


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