By Lucienne Loh (auth.)
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36 The Postcolonial Country in Contemporary Literature This chapter thus aims to further Amelia Scurry’s assertion that ‘consideration of melancholy as a key thematic concern of Sebald’s work, and of his third prose work Rings of Saturn in particular, have not been extended to equally salient discussions of melancholy’s structural, temporal and rhetorical aspects’ (Scurry, 2010, 14). Scurry argues that The Rings of Saturn is marked by a reorientation of narrative structure, a new and intense focus on historical and geographical topographies, and a greater investment in linguistic and mnemonic digression that can be understood as part of an introjection of melancholy in the text.
Furthermore, the levelled histories encompassed by the objects, organised in no discernible order in Sebald’s list, reflect the uninformed tourist’s gaze that only consumes these objects as country house paraphernalia and imperial memorabilia, while failing to acknowledge the extensive histories of violent colonial engagement that each of these objects also signify. Indeed, as McCulloh argues ‘there is something patently absurd about the vastness of its [the home’s] exotic collection of motley souvenirs and artifacts.
13 Introduction: Foreign Fields that are Forever England 23 In both Appiah’s and Stanton’s readings, a cosmopolitan reading practice is based not on general difference, but on an ability to read texts across vastly different gaps of space, time and experience that affords the capacity to follow a narrative and conjure a world beyond one’s own locale (Appiah, 2001, 224; Stanton, 2006). In this study, all the texts that are concerned with rural spaces in the ex-colonies are committed to elucidating the historical narrative of colonial exploitation and expropriation in these areas within the spatio-temporal development of capitalism.