Banaras in the Indian Ocean: Circulating, Connecting and Creolizing Island Stories

Srilata Ravi


Abstract

What links Bernardin de Saint Pierre’s 1788 novel about Isle de France, Paul et Virginie, with V.S. Naipaul’s 1972 piece, An overcrowded Barracoon? What is common to Joseph Conrad’s 1910 novella, A Smile of Fortune, and tourist brochures of La Grande Baie? What brings together the story of the ruins of Babylon and the Ghats of the Ganges? Actually, these seemingly disjointed narratives make up a vast library of inter-connecting Indian Ocean island stories. In this study I will use the image of ‘Banaras’ as the locus of an inter-textual reading exercise connecting the literary spaces of Mauritian writer and filmmaker Barlen Pyamootoo with other stories like those mentioned above. Pyamootoo’s literary universe reveals to us the dynamic, multilayered and polyphonic nature of Indian Ocean island cultures.

Keywords

Indian Ocean, Mauritius, Creolisation, Francophone Literatures

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