Skip navigation
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
Title: Thought's Occasion in Ghalib, Wordsworth, and Mallarmé: Comparative Poetics after Colonization
Authors: Chandra, Paresh
Advisors: Brodsky, Claudia
Contributors: Comparative Literature Department
Keywords: Critical theory
Subjects: Comparative literature
English literature
South Asian studies
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation models an inter-traditional poetics by staging an encounter between English, Persianate, and French poetic traditions and their reading practices. By studying three extraordinarily distinctive poets – Mirza Ghalib (1797-1869), William Wordsworth (1770- 1850), and Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898) – I conceptualize “poetic thinking” as a process persisting across these traditions, which, by virtue of the singularly delimited verbal construction of a poem, constitutes a unique relation to its outside, i.e., its “occasion.” Any attempt to identify the occasion of a poetic work in an object that is already known fails: Poetry's sky is “not the sky of earth” (Wordsworth), its flower is “absent from all bouquets” (Mallarmé), and the object of its discourse is forever missing (Ghalib). Sovereigns, places, ordinary things, strangers, even the friends who occasion poems seem absent in the very constructions that are meant to memorialize or praise them. At the same time, if one approaches poetry as an autonomous practice of thought, the external objects it takes as its occasions appear in the foreground of one’s consciousness, albeit rendered nonidentical with their own prior concepts. This relation between occasion and thought in poetry, which both invites reflection and creates the basis for an aesthetic experience of the poem, resists its own conceptualization, and gives to the poem an inexhaustible newness. Newness entails that every instance of reading the poem is an encounter with otherness that animates our capacity to recognize otherness by negating ossified forms of comprehension. Thus, poetic thinking, appearing first as the poet’s construction of the poem, and then as the process of reflective reading in which prior modes of comprehension are transformed, discloses the non-narcissistic capacity of thought, without whose defining relation to an external other neither critique nor comparison would be possible. I proffer this non-narcissism of thought as the basis for a practice of comparative poetics which, even as it thinks the universality of poetry, also presents a critique of the colonially engendered capitalist world that is the historical condition of possibility for notions like “world-literature.”
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Comparative Literature

Files in This Item:
File Description SizeFormat 
Chandra_princeton_0181D_14274.pdf1.42 MBAdobe PDFView/Download

Items in Dataspace are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.