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Nov 12, 2017

The forgotten Muslim heroes who fought for Britain in the trenches

The forgotten Muslim heroes who fought for Britain in the trenches
Vivek Chaudhary (For the Guardian)

A biting wind whips across the rolling countryside, cutting through the crowd gathered on a hillside overlooking Notre Dame de Lorette, France’s national war cemetery. Huddled amid what remains of the 440 miles of trenches that made up the western front, they shudder out of shock and surprise rather than cold while listening about life for the men who endured the horrors of the first world war.

More than 1.5 billion artillery shells fell in this part of northern France, close to the town of Arras, prompting soldiers to nickname the farmland in which they fought “the hell of the north”, or poignantly, “the cemetery”. It is the experiences of some of their Muslim comrades, however, that particularly capture the crowd’s imagination, drawing looks of disbelief at a history that has never been fully told.

Having travelled thousands of miles from hotter climes, these soldiers went into the trenches with imams whose duties included leading group prayers and reciting the call to prayer into the ears of the dying. Special orders had been issued on when and how to pray. “If the war is intense and the Muslim does not have a moment of peace to fulfil his prayer he can just move his head and torso,” said a declaration from French high command. “In the case where there are moments of calm, one can complete the prayer together.”

Hot halal food was routinely served, prepared by cooks who had accompanied the men. When medical supplies ran out, some of these soldiers used traditional herbal medicines from their homelands to help treat injured comrades, whatever their faith. Others taught their folk songs to those serving alongside them, whatever their language, in between the brutal onslaughts of trench warfare.

The evidence of their sacrifice is on display in a corner of Notre Dame de Lorette, which contains the graves of 40,000 French soldiers who fell on the western front. The Muslim headstones are distinguishable not just by their Islamic inscriptions but because they also tilt eastwards towards Mecca. They were designed by the French painter Etienne Dinet, who converted to Islam in 1908.

The crowd of mainly British Muslims, who were at Notre Dame de Lorette before this weekend’s Armistice Day commemorations, ended their visit by praying over the graves of the north African soldiers who shared their faith. Their visit formed part of a groundbreaking project by an organisation called the Forgotten Heroes 14-19 Foundation, which has, for the first time, documented the contribution of all the Muslims who fought and worked for the allied forces during the first world war. The 19 in its name refers to the conflict that was caused by the French military presence in Syria in 1919 after the first world war ended.

Researchers have spent the past six years delving into military, diplomatic and private archives, including diaries and letters, across 19 countries, accessing more than 850,000 documents in French, English, Farsi, Urdu, Russian, German and Arabic, as well as hundreds of images. They estimate that 2.5 million Muslims contributed to the allied cause either as soldiers or labourers, the first time such a figure has been established.

The foundation was founded by a Belgian, Luc Ferrier, 53, after he came across his great-grandfather’s first world war diaries in his attic in which he wrote extensively about the “Mohammedans” he encountered in the trenches. Gripped by fascination, Ferrier delved into the history books to learn more, but found that there was little information available.

He began conducting his own research, initially through Belgian and French war records, and realised there was a bigger story to tell. In fact, he became so engrossed by it that he gave up his job in the aeronautical industry to establish the foundation in 2012 and devote his life to documenting the role of all Muslims involved in the war.

They were drawn from across Africa, India, the far and middle east, Russia and even America, but it is their heart-touching stories of living and dying alongside European Christian or Jewish counterparts that have resonated the most with Ferrier and his team. Knowing this history, they say, could help overcome some problems in the Europe of today.

Documents uncovered have shown instances of imams, priests and rabbis learning each other’s burial ceremonies and prayers to lay the dead to rest on the battlefront. There are reports of Muslim soldiers sharing food with hungry civilians, while French, Belgian and Canadian officers expressed surprise at their humane treatment of German prisoners of war. When asked to explain their conduct, the soldiers quoted the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad on how enemy combatants should be dealt with.

Ferrier, who is not a Muslim, said: “The far-right and Islamophobia is on the rise throughout Europe. Our project is about making all people across the continent understand that we have a shared history. This is not about politics or colonialism. We are simply presenting the facts because this is a story that the whole of Europe needs to know.

“Muslims are portrayed as the enemy within, that they are recent arrivals who have never made a valuable contribution to Europe. But we can show that they have sacrificed their lives for a free Europe, have helped to make it what it is and that they have a right to be here.”

Central to the foundation’s ethos is spreading knowledge of its findings to young Britons and Europeans in particular, with the aim that this will help future generations better understand the Muslim communities living among them. The battlefield tours, entitled The Muslim Experience in World War One, are organised in partnership with Anglia Tours, a company that specialises in battlefield visits for British schoolchildren.

In addition to visiting the trenches, memorials and graves, and hearing the human stories behind them, the tour also includes a visit to the El Badr mosque in Amiens for a presentation on the foundation’s research, followed by a traditional north-African meal. Non-Muslim visitors are also encouraged to witness evening prayers.

Yusuf Chambers of the Muslim Heritage Trust, which works with the foundation in Britain, said: “We are trying to build bridges and what better way to do this than by sharing a meal and socialising together?

“Our work is focused on all communities and ages but particularly the young. We want people to know about this history because we want every British and European child to say that Muslims were heroes of the first world war too.”

The foundation’s work has already caught the eye of first world war experts. Last month, Ferrier addressed historians at Harvard University and he has also presented a paper to the UN. Plans are under way for a book next year that will contain extracts of the documents and images that have been uncovered, and an exhibition is to tour Europe. As the research continues, he estimates that the current figure of 2.5 million Muslims helping the allies during the first world war could increase.

For those visitors who attended last week’s inaugural tour, what proved particularly powerful was hearing letters read out from Muslim soldiers to their families in which they shared their fears and faith. One from an Algerian soldier stationed in the trenches around Notre Dame de Lorette in 1916 read: “I swear by God and by that which we hold sacred, I will never stop saying my prayers, I will never abandon my faith even if I am assailed by ordeals more terrible than those in which I find myself in.”

Visitor Tayaba Shaukat, aged 25 from west London, said: “It’s when you hear these personal testimonies that you really understand what these men went through. The experience of European soldiers in the first world war has been well documented by poets and other writers, but we don’t know anything about the lives of the Muslim and other colonial soldiers and this has to change.”

400,000 Indians (British Indian army)
200,000 Algerians , 100,000 Tunisians, 40,000 Moroccans, 100,000 West Africans, 5,000 Somalis and Libyans (French army)
5,000 American Muslims
1.3 million Russian Muslims

100,000 Egyptians
35,000 Chinese Muslims
130,000 North Africans
200,000 Sub Saharan Africans
40,000 Indians

Nov 11, 2017

How Colonial Violence Came Home: Pankaj Mishra

How Colonial Violence Came Home: The Ugly Truth of the First World War

By Pankaj Mishra (For Guardian Newspaper)

For original, click on the link below

"Today on the Western Front,” the German sociologist Max Weber wrote in September 1917, there “stands a dross of African and Asiatic savages and all the world’s rabble of thieves and lumpens.” Weber was referring to the millions of Indian, African, Arab, Chinese and Vietnamese soldiers and labourers, who were then fighting with British and French forces in Europe, as well as in several ancillary theatres of the first world war.
Faced with manpower shortages, British imperialists had recruited up to 1.4 million Indian soldiers. France enlisted nearly 500,000 troops from its colonies in Africa and Indochina. Nearly 400,000 African Americans were also inducted into US forces. The first world war’s truly unknown soldiers are these non-white combatants.
Ho Chi Minh, who spent much of the war in Europe, denounced what he saw as the press-ganging of subordinate peoples. Before the start of the Great War, Ho wrote, they were seen as “nothing but dirty Negroes … good for no more than pulling rickshaws”. But when Europe’s slaughter machines needed “human fodder”, they were called into service. Other anti-imperialists, such as Mohandas Gandhi and WEB Du Bois, vigorously supported the war aims of their white overlords, hoping to secure dignity for their compatriots in the aftermath. But they did not realise what Weber’s remarks revealed: that Europeans had quickly come to fear and hate physical proximity to their non-white subjects – their “new-caught sullen peoples”, as Kipling called colonised Asians and Africans in his 1899 poem The White Man’s Burden.
These colonial subjects remain marginal in popular histories of the war. They also go largely uncommemorated by the hallowed rituals of Remembrance Day. The ceremonial walk to the Cenotaph at Whitehall by all major British dignitaries, the two minutes of silence broken by the Last Post, the laying of poppy wreaths and the singing of the national anthem – all of these uphold the first world war as Europe’s stupendous act of self-harm. For the past century, the war has been remembered as a great rupture in modern western civilisation, an inexplicable catastrophe that highly civilised European powers sleepwalked into after the “long peace” of the 19th century – a catastrophe whose unresolved issues provoked yet another calamitous conflict between liberal democracy and authoritarianism, in which the former finally triumphed, returning Europe to its proper equilibrium.
With more than eight million dead and more than 21 million wounded, the war was the bloodiest in European history until that second conflagration on the continent ended in 1945. War memorials in Europe’s remotest villages, as well as the cemeteries of Verdun, the Marne, Passchendaele, and the Somme enshrine a heartbreakingly extensive experience of bereavement. In many books and films, the prewar years appear as an age of prosperity and contentment in Europe, with the summer of 1913 featuring as the last golden summer.
But today, as racism and xenophobia return to the centre of western politics, it is time to remember that the background to the first world war was decades of racist imperialism whose consequences still endure. It is something that is not remembered much, if at all, on Remembrance Day.
At the time of the first world war, all western powers upheld a racial hierarchy built around a shared project of territorial expansion. In 1917, the US president, Woodrow Wilson, baldly stated his intention, “to keep the white race strong against the yellow” and to preserve “white civilisation and its domination of the planet”. Eugenicist ideas of racial selection were everywhere in the mainstream, and the anxiety expressed in papers like the Daily Mail, which worried about white women coming into contact with “natives who are worse than brutes when their passions are aroused”, was widely shared across the west. Anti-miscegenation laws existed in most US states. In the years leading up to 1914, prohibitions on sexual relations between European women and black men (though not between European men and African women) were enforced across European colonies in Africa. The presence of the “dirty Negroes” in Europe after 1914 seemed to be violating a firm taboo.
In May 1915, a scandal erupted when the Daily Mail printed a photograph of a British nurse standing behind a wounded Indian soldier. Army officials tried to withdraw white nurses from hospitals treating Indians, and disbarred the latter from leaving the hospital premises without a white male companion. The outrage when France deployed soldiers from Africa (a majority of them from the Maghreb) in its postwar occupation of Germany was particularly intense and more widespread. Germany had also fielded thousands of African soldiers while trying to hold on to its colonies in east Africa, but it had not used them in Europe, or indulged in what the German foreign minister (and former governor of Samoa), Wilhelm Solf, called “racially shameful use of coloureds”.
“These savages are a terrible danger,” a joint declaration of the German national assembly warned in 1920, to “German women”. Writing Mein Kampf in the 1920s, Adolf Hitler would describe African soldiers on German soil as a Jewish conspiracy aimed to topple white people “from their cultural and political heights”. The Nazis, who were inspired by American innovations in racial hygiene, would in 1937 forcibly sterilise hundreds of children fathered by African soldiers. Fear and hatred of armed “niggers” (as Weber called them) on German soil was not confined to Germany, or the political right. The pope protested against their presence, and an editorial in the Daily Herald, a British socialist newspaper, in 1920 was titled “Black Scourge in Europe”.
This was the prevailing global racial order, built around an exclusionary notion of whiteness and buttressed by imperialism, pseudo-science and the ideology of social Darwinism. In our own time, the steady erosion of the inherited privileges of race has destabilised western identities and institutions – and it has unveiled racism as an enduringly potent political force, empowering volatile demagogues in the heart of the modern west.
Today, as white supremacists feverishly build transnational alliances, it becomes imperative to ask, as Du Bois did in 1910: “What is whiteness that one should so desire it?” As we remember the first global war, it must be remembered against the background of a project of western global domination – one that was shared by all of the war’s major antagonists. The first world war, in fact, marked the moment when the violent legacies of imperialism in Asia and Africa returned home, exploding into self-destructive carnage in Europe. And it seems ominously significant on this particular Remembrance Day: the potential for large-scale mayhem in the west today is greater than at any other time in its long peace since 1945.
When historians discuss the origins of the Great War, they usually focus on rigid alliances, military timetables, imperialist rivalries, arms races and German militarism. The war, they repeatedly tell us, was the seminal calamity of the 20th century – Europe’s original sin, which enabled even bigger eruptions of savagery such as the second world war and the Holocaust. An extensive literature on the war, literally tens of thousands of books and scholarly articles, largely dwells on the western front and the impact of the mutual butchery on Britain, France, and Germany – and significantly, on the metropolitan cores of these imperial powers rather than their peripheries. In this orthodox narrative, which is punctuated by the Russian Revolution and the Balfour declaration in 1917, the war begins with the “guns of August” in 1914, and exultantly patriotic crowds across Europe send soldiers off to a bloody stalemate in the trenches. Peace arrives with the Armistice of 11 November 1918, only to be tragically compromised by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, which sets the stage for another world war.
In one predominant but highly ideological version of European history – popularised since the cold war – the world wars, together with fascism and communism, are simply monstrous aberrations in the universal advance of liberal democracy and freedom. In many ways, however, it is the decades after 1945 – when Europe, deprived of its colonies, emerged from the ruins of two cataclysmic wars – that increasingly seem exceptional. Amid a general exhaustion with militant and collectivist ideologies in western Europe, the virtues of democracy – above all, the respect for individual liberties – seemed clear. The practical advantages of a reworked social contract, and a welfare state, were also obvious. But neither these decades of relative stability, nor the collapse of communist regimes in 1989, were a reason to assume that human rights and democracy were rooted in European soil.
Instead of remembering the first world war in a way that flatters our contemporary prejudices, we should recall what Hannah Arendt pointed out in The Origins of Totalitarianism – one of the west’s first major reckonings with Europe’s grievous 20th-century experience of wars, racism and genocide. Arendt observes that it was Europeans who initially reordered “humanity into master and slave races” during their conquest and exploitation of much of Asia, Africa and America. This debasing hierarchy of races was established because the promise of equality and liberty at home required imperial expansion abroad in order to be even partially fulfilled. We tend to forget that imperialism, with its promise of land, food and raw materials, was widely seen in the late 19th century as crucial to national progress and prosperity. Racism was – and is – more than an ugly prejudice, something to be eradicated through legal and social proscription. It involved real attempts to solve, through exclusion and degradation, the problems of establishing political order, and pacifying the disaffected, in societies roiled by rapid social and economic change.
In the early 20th century, the popularity of social Darwinism had created a consensus that nations should be seen similarly to biological organisms, which risked extinction or decay if they failed to expel alien bodies and achieve “living space” for their own citizens. Pseudo-scientific theories of biological difference between races posited a world in which all races were engaged in an international struggle for wealth and power. Whiteness became “the new religion”, as Du Bois witnessed, offering security amid disorienting economic and technological shifts, and a promise of power and authority over a majority of the human population.
The resurgence of these supremacist views today in the west – alongside the far more widespread stigmatisation of entire populations as culturally incompatible with white western peoples – should suggest that the first world war was not, in fact, a profound rupture with Europe’s own history. Rather it was, as Liang Qichao, China’s foremost modern intellectual, was already insisting in 1918, a “mediating passage that connects the past and the future”.
The liturgies of Remembrance Day, and evocations of the beautiful long summer of 1913, deny both the grim reality that preceded the war and the way it has persisted into the 21st century. Our complex task during the war’s centenary is to identify the ways in which that past has infiltrated our present, and how it threatens to shape the future: how the terminal weakening of white civilisation’s domination, and the assertiveness of previously sullen peoples, has released some very old tendencies and traits in the west.
Nearly a century after first world war ended, the experiences and perspectives of its non-European actors and observers remain largely obscure. Most accounts of the war uphold it as an essentially European affair: one in which the continent’s long peace is shattered by four years of carnage, and a long tradition of western rationalism is perverted.
Relatively little is known about how the war accelerated political struggles across Asia and Africa; how Arab and Turkish nationalists, Indian and Vietnamese anti-colonial activists found new opportunities in it; or how, while destroying old empires in Europe, the war turned Japan into a menacing imperialist power in Asia.
A broad account of the war that is attentive to political conflicts outside Europe can clarify the hyper-nationalism today of many Asian and African ruling elites, most conspicuously the Chinese regime, which presents itself as avengers of China’s century-long humiliation by the west.
Recent commemorations have made greater space for the non-European soldiers and battlefields of the first world war: altogether more than four million non-white men were mobilised into European and American armies, and fighting happened in places very remote from Europe – from Siberia and east Asia to the Middle East, sub-Saharan Africa, and even the South Pacific islands. In Mesopotamia, Indian soldiers formed a majority of Allied manpower throughout the war. Neither Britain’s occupation of Mesopotamia nor its successful campaign in Palestine would have occurred without Indian assistance. Sikh soldiers even helped the Japanese to evict Germans from their Chinese colony of Qingdao.
Scholars have started to pay more attention to the nearly 140,000 Chinese and Vietnamese contract labourers hired by the British and French governments to maintain the war’s infrastructure, mostly digging trenches. We know more about how interwar Europe became host to a multitude of anticolonial movements; the east Asian expatriate community in Paris at one point included Zhou Enlai, later the premier of China, as well as Ho Chi Minh. Cruel mistreatment, in the form of segregation and slave labour, was the fate of many of these Asians and Africans in Europe. Deng Xiaoping, who arrived in France just after the war, later recalled “the humiliations” inflicted upon fellow Chinese by “the running dogs of capitalists”.
But in order to grasp the current homecoming of white supremacism in the west, we need an even deeper history – one that shows how whiteness became in the late 19th century the assurance of individual identity and dignity, as well as the basis of military and diplomatic alliances.
Such a history would show that the global racial order in the century preceding 1914 was one in which it was entirely natural for “uncivilised” peoples to be exterminated, terrorised, imprisoned, ostracised or radically re-engineered. Moreover, this entrenched system was not something incidental to the first world war, with no connections to the vicious way it was fought or to the brutalisation that made possible the horrors of the Holocaust. Rather, the extreme, lawless and often gratuitous violence of modern imperialism eventually boomeranged on its originators.
In this new history, Europe’s long peace is revealed as a time of unlimited wars in Asia, Africa and the Americas. These colonies emerge as the crucible where the sinister tactics of Europe’s brutal 20th-century wars – racial extermination, forced population transfers, contempt for civilian lives – were first forged. Contemporary historians of German colonialism (an expanding field of study) try to trace the Holocaust back to the mini-genocides Germans committed in their African colonies in the 1900s, where some key ideologies, such as Lebensraum, were also nurtured. But it is too easy to conclude, especially from an Anglo-American perspective, that Germany broke from the norms of civilisation to set a new standard of barbarity, strong-arming the rest of the world into an age of extremes. For there were deep continuities in the imperialist practices and racial assumptions of European and American powers.
Indeed, the mentalities of the western powers converged to a remarkable degree during the high noon of “whiteness” – what Du Bois, answering his own question about this highly desirable condition, memorably defined as “the ownership of the Earth for ever and ever”. For example, the German colonisation of south-west Africa, which was meant to solve the problem of overpopulation, was often assisted by the British, and all major western powers amicably sliced and shared the Chinese melon in the late 19th century. Any tensions that arose between those dividing the booty of Asia and Africa were defused largely peacefully, if at the expense of Asians and Africans.
This is because colonies had, by the late 19th century, come to be widely seen as indispensable relief-valves for domestic socio-economic pressures. Cecil Rhodes put the case for them with exemplary clarity in 1895 after an encounter with angry unemployed men in London’s East End. Imperialism, he declared, was a “solution for the social problem, ie in order to save the 40 million inhabitants of the United Kingdom from a bloody civil war, we colonial statesmen must acquire new lands to settle the surplus population, to provide new markets for the goods produced in the factories and mines”. In Rhodes’ view, “if you want to avoid civil war, you must become imperialists”.
Rhodes’ scramble for Africa’s gold fields helped trigger the second Boer war, during which the British, interning Afrikaner women and children, brought the term “concentration camp” into ordinary parlance. By the end of the war in 1902, it had become a “commonplace of history”, JA Hobson wrote, that “governments use national animosities, foreign wars and the glamour of empire-making in order to bemuse the popular mind and divert rising resentment against domestic abuses”.
With imperialism opening up a “panorama of vulgar pride and crude sensationalism”, ruling classes everywhere tried harder to “imperialise the nation”, as Arendt wrote. This project to “organise the nation for the looting of foreign territories and the permanent degradation of alien peoples” was quickly advanced through the newly established tabloid press. The Daily Mail, right from its inception in 1896, stoked vulgar pride in being white, British and superior to the brutish natives – just as it does today.
At the end of the war, Germany was stripped of its colonies and accused by the victorious imperial powers, entirely without irony, of ill-treating its natives in Africa. But such judgments, still made today to distinguish a “benign” British and American imperialism from the German, French, Dutch and Belgian versions, try to suppress the vigorous synergies of racist imperialism. Marlow, the narrator of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1899), is clear-sighted about them: “All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz,” he says. And to the new-fangled modes of exterminating the brutes, he might have added.
In 1920, a year after condemning Germany for its crimes against Africans, the British devised aerial bombing as routine policy in their new Iraqi possession – the forerunner to today’s decade-long bombing and drone campaigns in west and south Asia. “The Arab and Kurd now know what real bombing means,” a 1924 report by a Royal Air Force officer put it. “They now know that within 45 minutes a full-sized village … can be practically wiped out and a third of its inhabitants killed or injured.” This officer was Arthur “Bomber” Harris, who in the second world war unleashed the firestorms of Hamburg and Dresden, and whose pioneering efforts in Iraq helped German theorising in the 1930s about der totale krieg (the total war).
It is often proposed that Europeans were indifferent to or absent-minded about their remote imperial possessions, and that only a few dyed-in-the-wool imperialists like Rhodes, Kipling and Lord Curzon cared enough about them. This makes racism seem like a minor problem that was aggravated by the arrival of Asian and African immigrants in post-1945 Europe. But the frenzy of jingoism with which Europe plunged into a bloodbath in 1914 speaks of a belligerent culture of imperial domination, a macho language of racial superiority, that had come to bolster national and individual self-esteem.
Italy actually joined Britain and France on the Allied side in 1915 in a fit of popular empire-mania (and promptly plunged into fascism after its imperialist cravings went unslaked). Italian writers and journalists, as well as politicians and businessmen, had lusted after imperial power and glory since the late 19th century. Italy had fervently scrambled for Africa, only to be ignominiously routed by Ethiopia in 1896. (Mussolini would avenge that in 1935 by dousing Ethiopians with poison gas.) In 1911, it saw an opportunity to detach Libya from the Ottoman empire. Coming after previous setbacks, its assault on the country, greenlighted by both Britain and France, was vicious and loudly cheered at home. News of the Italians’ atrocities, which included the first bombing from air in history, radicalised many Muslims across Asia and Africa. But public opinion in Italy remained implacably behind the imperial gamble.
Germany’s own militarism, commonly blamed for causing Europe’s death spiral between 1914 and 1918, seems less extraordinary when we consider that from the 1880s, many Germans in politics, business and academia, and such powerful lobby groups as the Pan-German League (Max Weber was briefly a member), had exhorted their rulers to achieve the imperial status of Britain and France. Furthermore, all Germany’s military engagements from 1871 to 1914 occurred outside Europe. These included punitive expeditions in the African colonies and one ambitious foray in 1900 in China, where Germany joined seven other European powers in a retaliatory expedition against young Chinese who had rebelled against western domination of the Middle Kingdom.
Dispatching German troops to Asia, the Kaiser presented their mission as racial vengeance: “Give no pardon and take no prisoners,” he said, urging the soldiers to make sure that “no Chinese will ever again even dare to look askance at a German”. The crushing of the “Yellow Peril” (a phrase coined in the 1890s) was more or less complete by the time the Germans arrived. Nevertheless, between October 1900 and spring 1901 the Germans launched dozens of raids in the Chinese countryside that became notorious for their intense brutality.
One of the volunteers for the disciplinary force was Lt Gen Lothar von Trotha, who had made his reputation in Africa by slaughtering natives and incinerating villages. He called his policy “terrorism”, adding that it “can only help” to subdue the natives. In China, he despoiled Ming graves and presided over a few killings, but his real work lay ahead, in German South-West Africa (contemporary Namibia) where an anti-colonial uprising broke out in January 1904. In October of that year, Von Trotha ordered that members of the Herero community, including women and children, who had already been defeated militarily, were to be shot on sight and those escaping death were to be driven into the Omaheke Desert, where they would be left to die from exposure. An estimated 60,000-70,000 Herero people, out of a total of approximately 80,000, were eventually killed, and many more died in the desert from starvation. A second revolt against German rule in south-west Africa by the Nama people led to the demise, by 1908, of roughly half of their population.
Such proto-genocides became routine during the last years of European peace. Running the Congo Free State as his personal fief from 1885 to 1908, King Leopold II of Belgium reduced the local population by half, sending as many as eight million Africans to an early death. The American conquest of the Philippines between 1898 and 1902, to which Kipling dedicated The White Man’s Burden, took the lives of more than 200,000 civilians. The death toll perhaps seems less startling when one considers that 26 of the 30 US generals in the Philippines had fought in wars of annihilation against Native Americans at home. One of them, Brigadier General Jacob H Smith, explicitly stated in his order to the troops that “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn. The more you kill and burn the better it will please me”. In a Senate hearing on the atrocities in the Philippines, General Arthur MacArthur (father of Douglas) referred to the “magnificent Aryan peoples” he belonged to and the “unity of the race” he felt compelled to uphold.
The modern history of violence shows that ostensibly staunch foes have never been reluctant to borrow murderous ideas from one another. To take only one instance, the American elite’s ruthlessness with blacks and Native Americans greatly impressed the earliest generation of German liberal imperialists, decades before Hitler also came to admire the US’s unequivocally racist policies of nationality and immigration. The Nazis sought inspiration from Jim Crow legislation in the US south, which makes Charlottesville, Virginia, a fitting recent venue for the unfurling of swastika banners and chants of “blood and soil”.
In light of this shared history of racial violence, it seems odd that we continue to portray the first world war as a battle between democracy and authoritarianism, as a seminal and unexpected calamity. The Indian writer Aurobindo Ghose was one among many anticolonial thinkers who predicted, even before the outbreak of war, that “vaunting, aggressive, dominant Europe” was already under “a sentence of death”, awaiting “annihilation” – much as Liang Qichao could see, in 1918, that the war would prove to be a bridge connecting Europe’s past of imperial violence to its future of merciless fratricide.
These shrewd assessments were not Oriental wisdom or African clairvoyance. Many subordinate peoples simply realised, well before Arendt published The Origins of Totalitarianism in 1951, that peace in the metropolitan west depended too much on outsourcing war to the colonies.
The experience of mass death and destruction, suffered by most Europeans only after 1914, was first widely known in Asia and Africa, where land and resources were forcefully usurped, economic and cultural infrastructure systematically destroyed, and entire populations eliminated with the help of up-to-date bureaucracies and technologies. Europe’s equilibrium was parasitic for too long on disequilibrium elsewhere.
In the end, Asia and Africa could not remain a safely remote venue for Europe’s wars of aggrandisement in the late 19th and 20th century. Populations in Europe eventually suffered the great violence that had long been inflicted on Asians and Africans. As Arendt warned, violence administered for the sake of power “turns into a destructive principle that will not stop until there is nothing left to violate”.
In our own time, nothing better demonstrates this ruinous logic of lawless violence, which corrupts both public and private morality, than the heavily racialised war on terror. It presumes a sub-human enemy who must be “smoked out” at home and abroad – and it has licensed the use of torture and extrajudicial execution, even against western citizens.
But, as Arendt predicted, its failures have only produced an even greater dependence on violence, a proliferation of undeclared wars and new battlefields, a relentless assault on civil rights at home – and an exacerbated psychology of domination, presently manifest in Donald Trump’s threats to trash the nuclear deal with Iran and unleash on North Korea “fire and fury like the world has never seen”.
It was always an illusion to suppose that “civilised” peoples could remain immune, at home, to the destruction of morality and law in their wars against barbarians abroad. But that illusion, long cherished by the self-styled defenders of western civilisation, has now been shattered, with racist movements ascendant in Europe and the US, often applauded by the white supremacist in the White House, who is making sure there is nothing left to violate.
The white nationalists have junked the old rhetoric of liberal internationalism, the preferred language of the western political and media establishment for decades. Instead of claiming to make the world safe for democracy, they nakedly assert the cultural unity of the white race against an existential threat posed by swarthy foreigners, whether these are citizens, immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers or terrorists.
But the global racial order that for centuries bestowed power, identity, security and status on its beneficiaries has finally begun to break down. Not even war with China, or ethnic cleansing in the west, will restore to whiteness its ownership of the Earth for ever and ever. Regaining imperial power and glory has already proven to be a treacherous escapist fantasy – devastating the Middle East and parts of Asia and Africa while bringing terrorism back to the streets of Europe and America – not to mention ushering Britain towards Brexit.
No rousing quasi-imperialist ventures abroad can mask the chasms of class and education, or divert the masses, at home. Consequently, the social problem appears insoluble; acrimoniously polarised societies seem to verge on the civil war that Rhodes feared; and, as Brexit and Trump show, the capacity for self-harm has grown ominously.
This is also why whiteness, first turned into a religion during the economic and social uncertainty that preceded the violence of 1914, is the world’s most dangerous cult today. Racial supremacy has been historically exercised through colonialism, slavery, segregation, ghettoisation, militarised border controls and mass incarceration. It has now entered its last and most desperate phase with Trump in power.
We can no longer discount the “terrible probability” James Baldwin once described: that the winners of history, “struggling to hold on to what they have stolen from their captives, and unable to look into their mirror, will precipitate a chaos throughout the world which, if it does not bring life on this planet to an end, will bring about a racial war such as the world has never seen”. Sane thinking would require, at the very least, an examination of the history – and stubborn persistence – of racist imperialism: a reckoning that Germany alone among western powers has attempted.
Certainly the risk of not confronting our true history has never been as clear as on this Remembrance Day. If we continue to evade it, historians a century from now may once again wonder why the west sleepwalked, after a long peace, into its biggest calamity yet

Nov 10, 2017

Dickens' "Oliver Twist"

Note: This post is a collection of three various articles, the link of which is given in the sections. It is only text version

Section A

In an unnamed town a penniless young woman stumbles into a workhouse, gives birth to a baby boy, and then dies soon after. The parish beadle, Mr Bumble, gives the child the name of Oliver Twist and the next ten years of Oliver's life are spent in the squalor of the workhouse. When Oliver then dares to ask for some more food Mr Bumble sells Oliver to an undertaker called Mr Sowerberry. Oliver's life isn't any better there and he soon decides to run away and seek his fortune in the great city of London. Upon his arrival, Oliver meets a cunning pickpocket called the Artful Dodger. The Dodger introduces Oliver to a man called Fagin who is the leader of a criminal gang that consists of pickpockets, prostitutes and burglars although Oliver is unaware of this. Fagin offers Oliver work but when Oliver goes out on his "first job" he finds himself being arrested. Fortunately, a kind man called Mr Brownlow takes pity on Oliver. He takes the boy into his home and cares for him. Oliver becomes very fond of Mr Brownlow and his housekeeper Mrs Bedwin but this happiness is short-lived. Fagin fears that Oliver will inform on him so he arranges for Bill Sikes, one of his criminal associates, to kidnap the boy. The only person with the power to save Oliver from the clutches of Fagin's gang is Bill's abused girlfriend Nancy.

After A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist is probably Dickens' most famous and adapted work. Back in 2012 I was fortunate enough to see a touring production of Oliver! The Musical which I absolutely loved :) But now that I've finally got round to reading Charles Dickens' novel I realise that my love for that particular stage production was more to do with the Lionel Bart songs and Samantha Barks' performance as Nancy than its story. Oliver Twist is my fifth Dickens book and it's unquestionably my least favourite. I really didn't like this one. Whereas the Fagin of the Lionel Bart musical is mostly used to provide comic relief, the Fagin of Dickens' book is a far more evil and sinister character. He has no redeeming features whatsoever and is constantly referred to as "The Jew". Fagin isn't a villain who just so happens to be Jewish either. His villainy and Jewishness always seem to be linked. I know that prejudice towards Jews was rife in Dickens' time but I still found the racism in the book rather upsetting. Another issue that I had with this book was Oliver Twist himself. He's so cloying! He always says and does the right thing, doesn't appear to have any flaws, is completely pure and innocent, and even talks in a more refined way than the other child characters do in this book. He's so good that it's sickening! Urgh! And my third and final problem with Oliver Twist was all of those massive coincidences. Mr Brownlow turn out to be the best friend of Oliver's father, Rose Maylie turns out to be the younger sister of Oliver's mother, and Monks turns out to be Oliver's evil half-brother! I know that London was a lot smaller back in Dickens' time but how many long-lost relatives can Oliver keep bumping into?! I could have accepted Oliver meeting just one long-lost relative but three?! 

Having said all that, I have to say that I didn't hate this book because I was still able to find a couple of things about it that I liked: namely the visual imagery and atmosphere of London and the character of Nancy - who might well be a 17 year old heavy drinking prostitute but is by far the most well-rounded, interesting and complex character in the entire book. Nancy has an inner kindness and strength that sets her apart from Fagin and the other members of his gang. She strikes me as being the female equivalent of Sydney Carton.

Section B

Oliver Twist was the second novel of Charles Dickens.  It was initially published in monthly installments that began in February of 1837 and ended in April of 1839.  The publication of Oliver Twist began before the monthly publication of The Pickwick Papers ended. The two novels overlapped for nine months.  Additionally  Dickens started Nicholas Nickleby (also issued in monthly installments) before Twist finished publication.  Those two novels overlapped for nine months as well.

Oliver Twist – Dickens’s Life At The Time
In early 1836 the first chapters of The Pickwick Papers are published. On April 2nd Dickens marries Catherine Hogarth.
During January of 1837  the first of his 10 children is born. The next month publication of Oliver Twist begins. On May 7th of that year Mary Hogarth, Catherine’s sister, dies.
In 1838 the publication of Nicholas Nickleby begins.

Charles Dickens did not have a happy childhood.  The low point came when he was twelve.  His father, John Dickens,  was arrested and sent to jail for failure to pay a debt.  Worst of all, young Charles Dickens was sent to work in a blacking (shoe polish) factory.
It was at the blacking factory that Dickens met Bob Fagin.  Bob was another employee at the factory.  However unlike some of the others Bob never teased young Dickens.  In fact, Fagin defended Dickens when the other boys taunted him.  He also taught Dickens how to wrap and tie the bottles of polish.  He even helped Dickens when he was ill at work.

Why would Dickens remember someone who had showed him such kindness by naming such villain after him?   The time Dickens spent at the blacking factory was the worst time of his entire life.  His shame over the incident made him keep it a secret from all but a few people.  So perhaps it was just that Bob Fagin introduced him to the ways of the factory in the same way that the other Fagin showed Oliver the correct way to pick pockets.  Maybe both men, the real Bob Fagin and the imaginary one, showed young boys, Charles Dickens and Oliver Twist, the darker side of life.
Once in a Lifetime

In June of 1837 something happed that only occurred once in Dickens’s career.  He missed a deadline.  He was writing two serialized novels at once, The Pickwick Papers and Oliver Twist.  However in June of 1837 there was no Pickwick.  There was no Oliver Twist.  Instead there was a funeral.

In 1837 Mary Hogarth was seventeen, pretty and living with her sister Catherine and Catherine’s husband, Charles Dickens.  Mary was a favorite with the couple and had become like a little sister to Charles.

On the evening of May 6th Mary went with the couple to the St. James Theatre.  The group returned late in the evening and Mary retired for the night.  Shortly after that Dickens heard a cry from Mary’s room.  She was ill.  Despite her doctor’s care Mary passed away in Dickens’s arms on May 7th.

Charles was devastated.  The June installments of Twist and Pickwick were not published due to “the sudden death of a very dear young relative to whom he was most affectionately attached and whose society had been for a long time the chief solace of his labours.”

The character Rose Maylie in Oliver Twist was inspired by Mary Hogarth.

Themes in Oliver Twist
In Oliver Twist Dickens attacks the New Poor Law of 1834.  The New Poor Law was really a series of measures that were enacted in 1834.  Supposedly these laws were to provide aid and assistance to impoverished people.  However the system had serious flaws.

People with no means of support were sent to workhouses. The system was designed with the idea that the workhouses would be unpleasant.  It was thought that this would provide added incentive for people to be self sufficient.

As a result of that thinking the food in the workhouses was meager and meals were to be eaten in silence.  Upon entering the workhouse families were separated and  assigned to same-sex quarters.  Also, the children were separated from the adults.  Infants were sent to “baby farms”.

Rather than finding this treatment motivational it broke the spirit of many people forced to live there.  The adventures of young Oliver Twist make this point.  Dickens also touches on this topic in other works.  In  A Christmas Carol  Scrooge says that “those who are badly off” must got to workhouses or other places like them.  The reply is, “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”

Charles Dickens used his novel to point out truths about Victorian England that polite society tried to ignore.  After reading the novel Lord Melbourne protested, “It is all among workhouses and pickpockets and coffinmakers.  I do not like those things: I wish to avoid them.  I do not like them in reality and therefore do not like to see them represented.”

“Oliver Twist has asked for more!”

Oliver Twist Resources
Learn About Oliver Twist
Play the Oliver Twist Picture Scramble
See quotes from Oliver Twist

Part C

Oliver Twist and the workhouse
Article by:Ruth Richardson
Themes:London, Poverty and the working classes, The novel 1832–1880
Published:15 May 2014

The hardships of the Victorian workhouse led Oliver Twist utter the famous phrase ‘Please Sir, I want some more’. Here Ruth Richardson explores Dickens’s own experiences of poverty and the social and political context in which he was writing.

Most people nowadays know about the Poor Law and its workhouses from Oliver Twist - whether from the book, film or the musical. The image of the skinny neglected little boy asking for more has become a classic. For Charles Dickens, writing a novel about the Poor Law was a thoughtful intervention in a contemporary national debate. You can hear in his tone of voice - occasionally heavy with satire or irony - that he regarded the Poor Law as profoundly un-Christian.

Dickens intended Oliver Twist, first published in monthly instalments between February 1837 and April 1839, to show the system's treatment of an innocent child born and raised in the workhouse system, where no 'fault' could be ascribed to the child. He shows the boys neglected, ill-treated, and experiencing hunger so bad that one child threatens to eat one of the others if he isn't better fed. Oliver has the temerity to ask for more food only because the hungry boys had cast lots to decide who would have to do it - and he had drawn the short straw. In the famous illustration by George Cruikshank, the poor orphan Oliver stands utterly alone - with the fearful threat of cannibalism right behind him, and facing him, the bully of a workhouse master preparing to unleash his powers of retribution. The pauper woman helper in the background recognises the danger of what Oliver has done, throwing up her hands in horror.

Usage terms: : Public Domain
The description of Oliver's punishments for his request - a natural entreaty from a growing boy - occupies quite a chunk of the following chapter. The sheer brutality of the system is exposed. Oliver is maligned, threatened with being hanged, drawn and quartered; he is starved, caned, and flogged before an audience of paupers, solitarily confined in the dark for days, kicked and cursed, hauled up before a magistrate and sent to work in an undertaker's, fed on animal scraps, taunted, and forced to sleep with coffins.

The New Poor Law
Dickens was disgusted by Parliament. Before becoming a successful novelist, he had worked as parliamentary reporter. He had watched politicians at very close quarters, rapidly taking down their speeches word for word in shorthand notes, and then transcribing them for daily newspaper reports. He had listened carefully to many debates, and he was sickened by the attitudes MPs expressed towards their fellow human-beings. When Dickens planned and penned Oliver Twist, new legislation was just beginning to be implemented across the country.

The Poor Law (Amendment) Act of 1834, otherwise known as the 'New' Poor Law, established the workhouse system. Instead of providing a refuge for the elderly, sick and poor, and instead of providing food or clothing in exchange for work in times of high unemployment, workhouses were to become a sort of prison system. The government's intention was to slash expenditure on poverty by setting up a cruelly deterrent regime. The old parish poorhouses and almshouses were to be completely changed, no cash support whatever would henceforth be given out - whatever the hardship or the season - and the old gifts in kind (food, shoes, blankets) which could help a family survive together, were now disallowed. The only option would be hard work, forced labour, and only inside the workhouse (which meant entering there to live, full time) in exchange for a thin subsistence. Homes were broken up, belongings sold, families separated.

Groups of parishes - called Poor Law Unions - were formed under the new system, and a network of workhouses was established across the country. They were run by 'Guardians' who were usually local business people. The regime inside these places was deliberately intended to deter everyone but the most desperate. Children were separated and sent away, heads were shaved, clothes boiled, uniforms issued. Although centrally-controlled through the Poor Law Board, each workhouse was administered locally. Dickens shows that the administration was run by self-satisfied and heartless men: the 'man in the white waistcoat' personifies the smug viciousness of the guardians in Oliver Twist's workhouse (ch. 2).[1] This is likely to have been something Dickens knew about: he had probably reported on such matters in London, and many accurate details in Oliver Twist show that Dickens did a lot of research before he wrote the story. It is true that the workhouse system was patchy: in some places - especially in parts of the North of England - more charitable notions among the 'guardians' of the poor meant that management could be kinder. In general, though, the system was harsh and austere. The poor - even if sick, old or dying - were treated punitively, as if their predicament was entirely of their own making, and they were deserving of punishment. This was at a time when there was no National Health Service to help the sick get well, no pension scheme to help the elderly remain at home, no unemployment pay for people with no work, no social services at all for those in need.

The workhouse system was hated, and people did everything they could to avoid becoming subject to it, so those who ended up there were either the most vulnerable, or the most hardened and brazen. Sadly, these groups were often housed in the same wards. Charitable hospitals generally refused access to those suffering from chronic (incurable) conditions, dying patients, and paupers. So workhouse inmates were often people whose medical conditions were regarded as hopeless at the time, and whose social status debarred them from other kinds of help. The Victorian Poor Law system effectively warehoused people the Nazis would have liked to liquidate: the sick, elderly and infirm, people who were chronically ill or incurable, physically deformed, diseased, maimed, lunatic, demented or mentally handicapped.

Dickens was only 25 when he started writing Oliver Twist in the winter of 1836-37. Because of his own life-experience he understood that accidents of birth or circumstance could make ordinary individuals vulnerable to desperation, hunger, cruelty and crime. His secret (which was only revealed after his death) was that when he was a child, his own family had been imprisoned in a debtors' prison. However terrible that experience was for him - and it marked him for life - he knew it was actually preferable to being incarcerated in a workhouse. In a debtors' prison, the family was at least allowed to remain together.The Dickens family had also twice lived only doors from a major London workhouse (the Cleveland Street Workhouse), so they had most likely seen and heard of many sorrowful things. The family's lodgings were above a food shop, and it is quite possible that young Dickens felt deeply sensitive about the suffering he knew was going on inside the institution close by. As an adult, Dickens knew that he himself had been fortunate to avoid a fate like Oliver Twist's.

The diet at the Cleveland Street Workhouse
Recent historical research has shown that the picture of the Poor Law that Dickens created in Oliver Twist closely resembles the real thing as it operated inside the workhouse in Cleveland Street. The punishing regime used to discipline Oliver is very like that which prevailed at the time in Cleveland Street. The clearest instance of a parallel is perhaps that the official workhouse regulations published by Covent Garden Parish specifically forbade second helpings of food. 

A 'new-modelled diet table' ordered gruel every day for breakfast, and an allowance of bread (no mention of butter) with 'a portion' of boiled meat on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On each day following, the main meal was only soup, made from the broth in which the previous day's meat had been boiled. On Saturday neither meat nor soup was given, but only a small portion of cheese. Tea, sugar, porter (ale), mutton or mutton broth, were permitted only on a doctors' prescription. Fish was not mentioned, and pork made an appearance only once a year on Christmas Day, along with the only appearance of baked plum pudding. On Good Friday an Easter treat was allowed: 'cross buns one to each'. Unless expressly prescribed by the Medical Attendant, and entered by him in the ledger devoted to that purpose, it was specifically emphasised twice that there was to be: 'no addition to the above allowance in any case', and 'on no account any additional allowance to be given'.

Everyone knows what Dickens did with this: “Please Sir, I want some more”.

The four-storey Workhouse in Cleveland Street and its burial ground were in active use throughout both periods that Dickens was living only a few doors away. The Workhouse inhabited an enclosed space, but it was not an entirely closed institution: what went on there influenced the locality in more ways than we can imagine. The many windows of the building’s frontage overlooked the street, so from across the road faces might be seen behind the glass, and perhaps human voices heard. The life of the entire institution was coordinated by the regular clang of the workhouse bell, which punctuated the working day within the institution at the hours of rising, working, dining and sleeping. A great workhouse bell intended to be heard in every ward and across the backyard and forecourt of this large institution can hardly have been inaudible in the surrounding streets. Other sounds might also have escaped beyond the walls of the institution: both the lying-in (maternity) ward and the ward for lunatics were at the front of the building, so on occasions moans and wails might have mingled and merged audibly outside. The overpowering smell of the place, which even Poor Law correspondents, who generally understated institutional shortcomings, referred to as ‘fetid exhalations’ was commented upon by Dr Rogers (the reforming doctor and Poor Law Medical Officer in the Workhouse), who also spoke with disgust of the choking clouds of dust from the paupers’ carpet-beating and stone-breaking, particles from which must surely have freighted the air in the streets nearby.

The Workhouse gate was usually kept firmly shut. The gateman, whose double gatehouse stood on each side of the entrance, was expected to keep firm control over access. He required a written order from arrivals before opening the gate, searched visitors individually for ‘spiritous liquors’ as they entered, accepted and documented deliveries, checked all those who left the House, and noted everything in a great ledger. We do not know whether he was summoned by bell or knocker, but either would have been audible on the street as well as inside his gatehouse. Tradesmen, visitors, pauper funerals arriving for the graveyard, and pauper applicants for admission would all have had to wait outside until he verified their credentials. There would have been times, no doubt, when the queue was long.

Dickens’s inspiration
Further material has also come to light which suggests that Dickens used details from the locality of the Cleveland Street Workhouse in his writings, most especially in Oliver Twist. For example, Oliver's cap is described as being of brown cloth - the same as the boys' uniform in the Cleveland Street Workhouse, and the novel's plot pivots on the possibility that the workhouse matron could be observed from the women's wing of a workhouse, going to visit a pawnbroker's. In Dickens's day, a well-established pawnbroker's shop stood at the top end of Norfolk Street, diagonally between the Workhouse and the corner house in which the Dickens family were lodgers. It was clearly visible from the windows of both places. If you stand on the same corner today, where the pawnbroker's shop used to be, you can still see both Dickens's old home (which now has a blue plaque) and the upstairs windows of the Workhouse's women's wards, from where the elderly female inmates could have secretly scrutinised the matron's errand.

But perhaps the most convincing evidence that Dickens used Cleveland Street in Oliver Twist is that right opposite the Workhouse, was a tallow-chandler's shop selling candles and cheap rushlights made of animal fat (tallow). The signboard outside is likely to have been painted with the proprietor's business and his name. Who was he? A man named Bill Sykes, just the same as the murderer in Oliver Twist.

[1] The ‘man in the white waistcoat’ is Mr Limbkins, Chair of the Board of the workhouse.
Written by Ruth Richardson
Ruth Richardson is an independent scholar, a Visiting Fellow at King’s College London and Visiting Professor at Hong Kong University. A devoted reader in the British Library’s Rare Books Room, she is the author/editor of several books including Death, Dissection and the Destitute, Vintage Papers from the Lancet, Medical Humanities, The Making of Mr Gray’s Anatomy and most recently, Dickens and the Workhouse. She has published many papers in learned journals, created online exhibitions for King's College Special Collections and for the Bishopsgate Institute, and is a frequent contributor to The Lancet. She is currently working on a study of marginalia and topography in Dickens and Tennyson, and working to preserve the Cleveland Street Workhouse.

Oct 10, 2017

UGC-NET English: Dec 2014

UGC-NET English: Dec 2014

1. This work was a satire in Ottava rima,
 attacking George III and Robert Southey.
 Identify the poem :
 (A) Dunciad (B) The Vision of Judgment
 (C) Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (D) Alastor

2. Here’s a famous exchange from Arthur Conan Doyle’s Silver Blaze :
 ‘Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention ?’
 ‘To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.’
 ‘The dog did nothing in the night-time.’
 What was Sherlock Holmes’ response ?
 (A) ‘Nothing ? Nothing at all ?
 Rather unbelievable.’
 (B) ‘That was the curious incident.’
 (C) ‘Anything else, at all ?’
 (D) ‘That sounds rather curious, don’t you think ?’

3. “The shrill, demented choirs of waiting shells,
 And bugles calling for them from sad shires.”
 These lines are from Wilfred Owen’s :
 (A) “Strange Meeting”
 (B) “Futility”
 (C) “Anthem for Doomed Youth”
 (D) “Duke et Decorum Est”

4. In Aphra Behn’s Oronooko, how does the titular character die ?
 (A) He disembowels himself.
 (B) He is whipped to death.
 (C) He is hanged in the public square.
 (D) He is cut to pieces slowly by the executioner.

5. The narrative of this novel is a meticulous, present-tense account of a woman with a
death-wish who plots the circumstances of her own violent murder.
 Identify the novel.
 (A) Iris Murdoch’s A Fairly Honourable Defeat
 (B) Muriel Spark’s The Driver’s Seat
 (C) Doris Lessing’s Children of Violence
 (D) Angela Carter’s The Passion of the New Eve

6. The library where the “Battle of Books” takes place is _______.
 (A) St. James’ Library (B) King’s Library
 (C) Sir William’s Library (D) Christ Church Library

7. In Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex the first scene finds Oedipus
 (A) in conversation with a priest
 (B) in consultation with a general
 (C) giving audience to an ambassador
 (D) in consultation with a minister

8. Who among Shakespeare’s contemporaries did not write tragedies ?
 (A) Thomas Kyd (B) John Lyly
 (C) Christopher Marlowe (D) Ben Jonson

9. The Kite Runner, a novel by Khaled Hosseini tells the story of ________.
 (A) Ahmed (B) Nadira
 (C) Amir (D) Amourrah

10. Thomas Babington Macaulay, the writer of the infamous Minute of 1835, finds a mention
in Salman Rushdie’s
 (A) Midnight’s Children (B) Shame
(C) The Moor’s Last Sigh (D) Fury

11. The issue of privileging speech over writing was taken up for discussion in Plato’s :
 (A) Ion (B) Republic Book III
 (C) Republic Book X (D) Phaedrus

12. ‘The Medium is the Message’ is a concept given by
 (A) Ernest Hemingway (B) Sylvia Plath
 (C) Seymour Hersh (D) Marshal McLuhan

13. Seamus Heaney’s famous poem “Digging” forms a part of his celebrated collection called
 (A) North (B) Death of a Naturalist
 (C) Field Work (D) Door into the Dark

14. The first major report on The Teaching of English in England was published in 1921. It is
known as ________, named after the Chair, Board of Education, _______.
 (A) the Newbolt Report; Sir Henry Newbolt
 (B) the Wood’s Despatch; Charles Wood, Lord Halifax
 (C) the Chatham Report; Earl John Chatham
 (D) the Landow Document; Sir George Landow

15. Who first developed the notion of ‘competence’ in language studies ?
 (A) Dell Hymes (B) Noam Chomsky
 (C) Leech and Svartvik (D) Henry Sweet

16. The fruit was eaten.
 The fruit is ripening.
Which of the following statement(s) is/are correct ?
 (1) English has two kinds of participle : the present and the past.
 (2) English has three kinds of participle : the present, the past and the future.
 (3) The first sentence here is an example of a verb in past participle.
 (4) The first sentence here is an example of a verb in the perfect tense.
 (5) The second sentence here is an example of a verb in present participle.
 (6) The second sentence here is an example of a verb in the continuous tense.
 (A) 2, 4, 6 are correct. (B) 1, 5, 6 are correct.
 (C) 1, 3, 5 are correct. (D) 3, 4, 5 are correct.

17. In 1722 the Crown awarded a certain English merchant a patent to manufacture copper coins for Ireland. Jonathan Swift intervened by way of composing a series of letters in response, better known as The Drapier’s Letters. Who was the merchant ?
 (A) Isaac Bickerstaff (B) William Bickerstaff
 (C) William Wood (D) William Sacheverell

18. “While the world moves
 In appentency on its metalled way
 Of time past and time future”
 These lines are from :
 (A) “Little Gidding” (B) “Dry Salvages”
 (C) “Burnt Norton” (D) “East Coker

19. The following is the stage-description of an opening scene of a famous modern play :
A basement room. Two beds, flat against the back wall. A serving hatch, closed, between the beds. A door to the kitchen and lavatory, left. A door to a passage, right.
Identify the play :
 (A) The Importance of Being Earnest
 (B) Travesties
 (C) The Dumb Waiter
 (D) Look Back in Anger

20. ‘Homonyms’ are words that _______
 (A) are pronounced differently but have the same meaning.
 (B) refer to both the male and female of the human species.
 (C) are spelt similarly but have different meanings.
 (D) refer to people who live in houses with similar structures.

21. Match the columns :
Shakespearean Actors   Period
I. David Garrick   1. The 19th century
II. John Gielgud   2. The 18th century
III. Henry Irving   3. The Restoration
IV. Thomas Betterton  4. The 20th century
 (A) 2 4 1 3
 (B) 4 2 1 3
 (C) 3 4 1 2
 (D) 2 3 4 1

22. In his “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences,” Derrida is all praise for the bricoleur whom Levi-Strauss sees as a supreme methodologist, “someone who uses ‘the means at hand’.”  Who does Levi-Strauss contrast bricoleur with in terms of method and approach?
 (A) The Botanist (B) The Anthropologist
 (C) The Engineer (D) The Semiotician

23. Heinrich Böll has something to say, and not of course merely something about the Germans. He says it several times. A common weakness of writers with something to say is their inability to understand that saying it four times is not necessarily four times as effective as saying it once. But to have something to say – how rare this is !  – D. J. Enright, “Three New Germans”.
 From a reading of the above, the reader can deduce :
 I. Enright mildly disapproves of Heinrich Böll’s saying not merely something about Germans.
 II. Enright is disappointed that Heinrich Böll has practically nothing to say about
people other than Germans.
 III. Enright agrees that Heinrich Böll shares a weakness with writers who prefer saying something four times to saying it once.
 IV. Enright does not believe that saying something four times will necessarily make the same effective.
 The right combination, according to the code, is
 (A) I and II (B) II and III
 (C) III and IV (D) I and IV

24. Michel Foucault’s earlier “archaeological” study is found in
 (A) Power/Knowledge
 (B) Social Theory and Transgression
 (C) The Birth of the Clinic
 (D) Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics

25. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is widely recognized as a masterpiece.
 It is also one of the finest examples of
 (A) science fiction (B) picaresque novel
 (C) coming-of-age novel (D) crime thriller

26. Match the following correctly :
List – I     List – II
I. Mulk Raj Anand   1. Premashram
II. Raja Rao    2. The Cat and Shakespeare
III. Prem Chand    3. Coolie
IV. Girish Karnad   4. Nagamandala
 (A) 3 2 4 1
 (B) 2 3 1 4
 (C) 3 2 1 4
 (D) 4 3 2 1

27. From which of Sheridan’s plays the following extract is taken ?
 Lady Sneerwell : Why truly Mrs. Clackitt has a very pretty talent and a great deal of industry.
 Snake : True, Madam, and has been tolerably successful in her day. To my
knowledge she has been the cause of six matches being broken off and
three sons disinherited, of four forced elopements ….
 Lady Sneerwell : She certainly has talents but her manner is gross.
 (A) The Rivals (B) The School for Scandal
 (C) St. Patrick’s Day (D) The Critic

28. Who, from among the following, has NOT been discussed by Simon-de-Bevoir in “The Myth of Woman in Five Authors” in The Second Sex ?
 (A) Montherlant (B) Lawrence
 (C) Stendhal (D) Kafka

29. In a collection of essays Orhan Pamuk shares how he writes his novels, tells about his friendship with his daughter, talks about his loneliness and happiness.
 Identify the text :
 (A) Other Colors (B) The Silent House
 (C) The Black Book (D) The White Castle

30. Two of the following plays won the Sultan Padamsee Prize for Indian plays in English :
 I. Princes
 II. Where There’s a Will
III. Larins Sahib
 IV. Doongaji House
 The right combination according to the code is :
 (A) III and IV (B) I and III
 (C) II and III (D) I and IV

31. Who among the following is NOT an Australian writer ?
 (A) Morris West (B) Patrick White
 (C) Thomas Keneally (D) Bill Pearson

32. After Independence, Mulk Raj Anand, wrote a number of semi-autobiographical works to narrate chunks of his own life through a fictional persona. The name he gave this persona is _______.
 (A) Lal Singh (B) Krishan Chander
 (C) Puran Singh (D) Rahul Singh

33. What a mockery this.
 Of history, the past and that to come !
 Now do I feel how all men are deceived,
 Reading of nations and their, in faith,
 Faith given to vanity and emptiness …
 The prelude
 The above extract is from
 (A) Book 9 Residence in France
 (B) Book 7 Residence in London
 (C) Book 3 Residence in Cambridge
 (D) Book 4 Summer Vacations

34. While foregrounding the marginal presence of women in history in A Room of One’s Own, Virginia Woolf refers to ______ History of England.
 (A) Campbell’s (B) Trevelyan’s
 (C) Sander’s (D) Carter’s

35. Salome is a play written by Oscar Wilde written in
 (A) English (B) Irish
 (C) French (D) Italian
Answer:(All are correct)

36. In More’s Utopia, the fictional traveller Raphael Hythloday’s second name in Greek means
 (A) Dispenser of Justice (B) Dispenser of Nonsense
 (C) Dispenser of Grace (D) Dispenser of Mercy

37. “You do not dwell in me nor I in you
 however much I pander to your name”
 These lines from Geoffrey Hill’s “Lachrimae” address
 (A) Christ (B) The Devil
 (C) The poet’s beloved (D) The poet’s enemy

38. The author of Black Skin, White Masks is
 (A) Ngugi wa Thiong’o (B) Frantz Fanon
 (C) Richard Wright (D) Martin Luther King (Jr.)

39. Match the following :
Poet Bird
I. John Keats 1. Hawk
II. P.B. Shelley 2. Falcon
III. G.H. Hopkins 3. Skylark
IV. Ted Hughes 4. Nightingale
 (A) 4 3 2 1
 (B) 4 3 1 2
 (C) 3 4 2 1
 (D) 3 4 1 2

40. Who of the following has written the novel The Return ?
 (A) Bapsi Sidhwa (B) V.S. Naipaul
 (C) K. S. Maniam (D) Pankaj Mishra

41. Who among the following is a well-known Neo-Aristotelian critic ?
 (A) R.P. Blackmur (B) John Crowe Ranson
 (C) R.S. Crane (D) Lionel Trilling

42. Assertion (A) : The act of reading a text is both determinate and indeterminate.
Reason (R) : Since our reading includes both a sense of the unity of the narrative held in place at the end and the different wishes and guesses made along the way.
 (A) Both (A) and (R) are true and (R) is the true explanation of (A).
 (B) Both (A) and (R) are true, but (R) is not the true explanation of (A).
 (C) (A) is true, but (R) is false.
 (D) (A) is false, but (R) is true.

43. Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana, originally in Kannada, has been translated
into English by
 (A) U.R. Ananthamurthy (B) By the playwright himself
 (C) G.S. Amur (D) A.K. Ramanujan

44. Edward Said’s well-known book Orientalism was published in
 (A) 1978 (B) 1968
 (C) 2008 (D) 1988

45. “To the Memory of my Beloved, the Author Mr. William Shakespeare : And What He Hath Left Us” is an ode composed by
 (A) John Milton (B) Ben Jonson
 (C) Andrew Marvell (D) John Suckling

46. Call me Ishmail Tonight is written by
 (A) A.K. Ramanujan (B) Agha Shahid Ali
 (C) Saleem Peeradina (D) Nissim Ezekiel

47. “All fiction for me is a kind of magic or trickery – a confidence trick.” The statement has
been made by
 (A) Angus Wilson (B) Anthony Powell
 (C) John Fowles (D) George Orwell

48. Here is a list of American words and word-makers. Match the following :
I. H.L. Mencken 1. Babbit
II. Philip Wylie 2. Yes man
III. Jack Conway 3. Bible belt
IV. Sinclair Lewis 4. Monism
 (A) 4 3 2 1
 (B) 3 4 1 2
 (C) 3 4 2 1
 (D) 4 3 1 2
Answer:(All are Correct)

49. Which of the following in Jacques Derrida’s epigraph to his “Structure, Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Sciences” ?
 (A) More body, hence more writing. ……. Helene Cixous.
 (B) We need to interpret interpretations more than to interpret things. ……… Michel Eyquem de Montaigne.
 (C) But unlike philosophical reflection, …. the reflections we are dealing with here concern rays whose only source is hypothetical … Claude Levi-Strauss
 (D) If Cleopatra’s nose had been shorter the whole history of the world would have been
different. ……… Blaise Pascal.

50. In Mann’s Death in Venice, death of the protagonist occurs
 (A) in a bar (B) in a beach
 (C) in a church (D) on the highway

51. Two among the following poets wrote the “Village” poems that address the perennial theme of rural poverty :
 I. Oliver Goldsmith II. William Collins
 III. Samuel Johnson IV. George Gabbe
 The right combination according to the code is
 (A) I and III (B) II and III
 (C) I and IV (D) I and II

52. In which of the following works Yeats developed his theory of ‘gyres’ ?
 (A) “A Vision”
 (B) “The Secret Rose”
 (C) “John Sherman and Dhoya”
 (D) “The Celtic Twilight”

53. Mystery and Miracle plays in English were based on ______.
 (A) English folklore (B) English legends
 (C) Biblical stories (D) Anglo-Saxon myths

54. When we rewrite a piece of discourse from one script into another, it is called ________.
 (A) Translation (B) Transliteration
 (C) Transcreation (D) Transformation

55. “No wonder then.” Explain.
 (A) No wonder that the words here begin to mean.
 (B) No wonder that you now find the words menacing.
 (C) No wonder that the words find you menacing.
 (D) No wonder the words still mean and are tame.
Answer:(All are correct)

56. The term “womanism” was first used by
 (A) Helene Cixous (B) Gayatri Spivak
 (C) Kate Millet (D) Alice Walker

57. Two among the following critics have dealt with the reproduction of motherhood in
feminist theory :
 I. Nancy Chodorow
 II. Judith Fetterley
 III. Catherine R. Stimpson
 IV. Carol Gilligan
 The right combination according to the code is
 (A) I and II (B) II and IV
 (C) I and IV (D) III and IV

58. Flowers is a short play written by
 (A) Mahesh Dattani (B) Asif Currimbhoy
 (C) Girish Karnad (D) Paoli Sengupta

59. Match the columns :
Character Novel
I. Lady Dedlock 1. Vanity Fair
II. Lady Bertram 2. Wives and Daughters
III. Lady Harriet 3. Mansfield Park
IV. Lady Jane 4. Bleak House
 (A) 4 2 3 1
 (B) 3 2 1 4
 (C) 4 3 2 1
 (D) 3 4 1 2

60. “The Books You Needn’t Read, the Books Made For Purposes Other Than Reading, Books Read Before You Open Them Since They Belong To The Category of Books Read Before Being Written …”
 The above extract is taken from
 (A) Jorge Luis Borges’s “The Library of Babel”
 (B) Italo Colvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller
 (C) Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose
 (D) Francis Bacon’s “Of Studies”

61. Listed below are the titles of novels and the sources to which they are aligned by readers.
Match them appropriately :
List – I       List – II
I. Peter Carey’s Jack Maggs   1. Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe
II. J.M. Coetzee’s Foe    2. Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre
III. Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea  3. R.M. Ballantyne’s The Coral Island
IV. William Golding’s Lord of the Flies  4. Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations
 (A) 4 1 3 2
 (B) 4 3 1 2
 (C) 4 1 2 3
 (D) 4 2 1 3

62. Identify the right chronological sequence :
 (A) The Game of Chess – Volpone – The Duchess of Malfi – The City Madam
(B) The City Madam – The Duchess of Malfi – Volpone – A Game of Chess
(C) Volpone – The Duchess of Malfi – A Game of Chess – The City Madam
(D) The Duchess of Malfi – Volpone – A Game of Chess – The City Madam

63. ‘Nasal tone’ in speech is a distinguishing feature of _______.
 (A) British English (B) Scottish English
 (C) Australian English (D) American English

64. Which of the following writers did NOT receive the Nobel Prize for Literature?
 (A) Wole Soyinka (B) Chinua Achebe
 (C) J. M. Coetzee (D) Nadine Gordimer

65. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon is
a significant work in ______ volumes.
 (A) 3 (B) 4
 (C) 5 (D) 6

66. The first novel written by Graham Greene is
 (A) Stamboul Train (B) England Made Me
(C) The Heart of the Matter (D) The Man Within

67. From among the Canterbury pilgrims, which group would qualify as the ‘upper class’ ?
 (A) The Pardoner, The Miller, The Nun’s Priest
 (B) Franklin, Parson, Wife of Bath
 (C) The Knight, The Squire, The Prioress
 (D) The Reeve, The Manciple, The Clerk

68. Plagiarism is a well-known word and concept in academic circles.
The word plagiarius in Latin, however, meant
 (A) a trickster, a cheat (B) a quack, a swindler
 (C) a loafer, a lout (D) a torturer, a plunderer
Answer:(All are correct)

69. What superstition around the Eve of St. Agnes is crucial to an understanding John Keat’s famous poem ?
 (A) If a virgin performed the proper ritual on St. Agnes’ Eve, she would dream of her future husband.
 (B) If a virgin performed the proper ritual on St. Agnes’ Eve, she would marry her lover.
 (C) If a married woman performed the proper ritual on St. Agnes’ Eve, she would be reunited with her husband.
 (D) If a woman performed the proper ritual on St. Agnes’ Eve, she would dream of her future lover.

70. Identify the person who sets himself up as the ‘Knight’ with a pestle  rather than a sword in the play The Knight of the Burning Pestle :
 (A) Ralph (B) Tim
 (C) George (D) Squire

71. Works like The Earthly Paradise, Dante and His Circle, Goblin Market and Other Poems and the journal, The Germ are associated with ________.
 (A) the Pre-Raphaelites (B) Higher Criticism
 (C) the Cavalier Poets (D) the Pre-Romantics

Read the following poem and answer questions (72 to 75 ) :
 A Bird came down the Walk –
 He did not know I saw –
 He bit an Angleworm in halves
 And ate the fellow, raw,
 And then he drank a Dew
 From a convenient Grass –
 And then hopped sidewise to the Wall
 To let a Beetle pass –
 He glanced with rapid eyes
 That hurried all around –
 They looked like frightened Beads, I thought –
 He stirred his Velvet Head
 Like one in danger, Cautious,
 I offered him a Crumb
 And he unrolled his feathers
 And rowed him softer home –
 Than Oars divide the Ocean,
 Too silver for a seam –
 Or Butterflies, off Banks of Noon
 Leap, plashless as they swim.

72. Is “a convenient Grass” an example of “transferred epithet” ?
 (A) Yes, it is. The “convenience” of grass is transferred from the bird to the poet who finds grass convenient of access.
 (B) Yes, it is. The grass is not “convenient”, but is transferred from the bird who finds the grass convenient of access.
 (C) No. It is a regular epithet.
 (D) No. It is not an epithet in the strict sense.

73. Which of the following is NOT an example of kinetic imagery ?
 (A) “unrolled his feathers” (B) “hopped sidewise”
 (C) “Velvet Head” (D) “rowed him”

74. The poem stages an encounter between :
 (A) the human and the non-human
 (B) distrust of the non-human about the humans
 (C) two old friends
 (D) two old enemies

75. “Like one in danger …” Who is in danger ?
 (A) The Bird (B) The Poet
 (C) The Angleworm (D) Frightened Beads
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