By Claire Buck (auth.)
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Extra resources for Conceiving Strangeness in British First World War Writing
In his diary, extracts of which were published in 1931, Grimshaw complains of both the Press and the British public’s views on the “poor Indian Army,” victim of government and senior Staff’s “whitewash” of their own failures and incompetence (64). 63 In the years in which Grimshaw drafted his story, war service played an important part in gradualist arguments in favor of increasing levels of Indian self-government. Grimshaw’s conventional dedication to those “gallant gentlemenwarriors” of the Indian cavalry “who went west in 1914” points to the sacred bond implied by Indian service (7).
As well as reinserting the perspectives and experiences of the war sepoy into the eyewitness combatant war story, Across the Black Waters makes visible the imperial logic of the war’s symbolic geography. And, as we shall see, Anand relies on generic hybridity to produce this visibility, reframing Britain’s war story within the travelogue. Anand conceived Across the Black Waters whilst he was actively working against fascism, speaking at the 1936 Anti-Fascist Writers’ Conference in London, attending a 1937 conference in Spain, and joining the International Brigade to fight against Franco in the Spanish Civil War.
67 These performances reproduce the authority of the 30 Conceiving Strangeness colonizer’s knowledge in that his ability to go native allows him to discover the secrets of the colonized. Yet these occasions of mimicry also create slippages and instabilities in the binary construction of colonial relations. When Grimshaw enters Ram Singh’s consciousness and re-experiences moments of his own life within an imagined community of Indian soldiers of whom Ram Singh is a part, he tries to imagine reciprocity in the Englishman’s relationships with Indians, to imagine the other’s point of view, and to imagine himself as other.