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MEG-15: Comparative Literature: Theory and Practice

MEG-15: Comparative Literature: Theory and Practice

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2022-23

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Assignment Code: MEG-15 / TMA / 2022 - 23

Course Code: MEG-15

Assignment Name: Comparative Literature: Theory and Practice

Year: 2022 -2023

Verification Status: Verified by Professor


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Q 1. How does the study of comparative literature affect our understanding of world literature? (20)

Ans) Recent theories and pedagogies of alterity such as multiculturalism and postcolonialism have had a significant impact on the discipline of Comparative Literature and the teaching of World Literature. They have, in many institutions, taken over the activity of comparative analyses between cultures and literatures and have achieved this importance in venues that pre-empt the traditional role of Comparative Literature. Goethe’s call to form a Welt literature and enrich one’s own culture through the acknowledgment of other models of artistic expression, such as Sanskrit kâvya, may seem anachronistic and naive to us today. However, we should not forget that the discipline of Comparative Literature was formed from just such a cosmopolitan desire to embrace diversity. Comparative Literature began by seeking to engage the known world, albeit with very insufficient tools. Over time, it became institutionally far less global in its perspective.


However, even in its most Eurocentric and isolationist moments, it is preferable to the cynicism that often motivates the market-based consumerism that has come to define present-day academic encounters with the Other. In American institutions today, it seems that we engage the world less out of curiosity than because of marketing concerns. Marketing in this context is twofold. First, there is marketing to and through university administrators who buy into the idea that alterity initiatives are the most advanced and “logical” approach to the miasma of competing cultures and ethnicities. In such cases, engaging the other easily degenerates into the diversity of college catalogues and state-or corporate-managed United Colours of Benetton pluralism. Through such initiatives, institutions can recruit and pretend to “restructure” with supposedly radical responses to new socio-economic realities.


One such recent restructuring can be seen in the development of new programs in World Literature. I wonder if the recent rediscovery of World Literature, a field often housed in Comparative Literature departments, and its establishment as free-standing programs of study might not be conceptualized as the latest avatar of the theories and pedagogies purporting to engage alterity that have sprung up on campuses in the last three decades. If the recent revival of World Literature is a reflection of identity studies as currently configured in American academe, what, if any, common features does it share with other recent attempts to engage the Other?


What effect do pedagogies of alterity have on our field and how do we train students to engage the world? The practical reason for this packaging of alterity, whether it be a newly-minted World Literature departments, Multicultural or Postcolonial Studies programs, is obvious: all these “specializations” are relatively easy. They do not involve in-depth knowledge of another culture or demand learning foreign languages. In such pedagogies, each text preserves its own heritage as long as it speaks English. Such pedagogies also feed American isolationism. In the Internet age, when the globalization of English has contributed to diminishing the need to learn languages, the Other can in these formats be consumed “on the cheap.” Furthermore, such celebrations of otherness and diversity in no way compromise American tendencies to cultural provincialism, triumphalism, or indifference to the world.


Like those popular ethnic fairs, one finds in the States, World Literature, like Multicultural and Postcolonial Studies, allows students to taste other cultures without digesting them. The resounding global education that such pedagogies offer a literature student can consist of nothing more than snippets from endless recycled “representative” authors writing or translated into the English language. Moreover, within such pedagogical initiatives, there is a real incentive not to respect the intellectual history or genealogy of an area of study. There is no necessity to contextualize the foreign or ethnic experience or broaden its significance by drawing any association to a source culture that might extend knowledge beyond the master narrative that one has responsibly engaged the world. By thus appropriating the Other, pedagogies of alterity sanction a selectively ignorant exploration, ensuring a general failure of real engagement.

Q 2. What do you understand by “telling” and “re-telling”? Illustrate (20)

Ans) Telling and retelling are, you will readily agree, an essential, indeed an indispensable, part of all communication. In our everyday lives, we are always “telling” others something or the other. We are also, most of the time, “retelling,” reporting to others what we have heard. The retelling starts very early in life - when the child, after the first day at the nursery, comes back home and tells the mother, in her own quaint way, all that was said to her. Later at the secondary school, in our grammar classes we are taught to transform direct speech to indirect, active voice into passive voice, which are again modes of retelling.


We are constantly retelling jokes we have heard, quite often adding juicier bits to them to amuse our listeners. Historians retell narratives of historical importance and no two such “histories” may be identical in factual content or interpretation and evaluation. Most of these “retellings” are required of us as part of our familial, official, or social obligations, some we perform just because we wish to “retell.” While retellings can be - and have been - carried out in all literary forms or genres, i.e., plays, novels, short stories, comics (for children, as in the famous Amar Chitra Katha series) it is interesting to see that the relation between forms of “telling” and forms of “retelling” is not a one-way traffic. We know that a lot of written texts are retellings of narratives that originally existed only in the oral form.


Perhaps the most interesting and complex example of written literature retold in the oral mode is the harikatha, practised primarily in South India. These harikathas are oral discourses on Ramayana, Mahabharata or the puranas (which are stories of various gods and goddesses). Numerous literary classics have been retold in various genres. To take the example of Shakespeare’s plays alone, perhaps the earliest example was Charles and Mary Lamb’s Tales from Shakespeare (published in 1807). Some other examples of individual plays retold in other genres are: Hamlet (Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a play by Tom Stoppard, 1966, later as a film with the same title, 1990; Gertrude and Claudius, a novel by John Updike, 2000), The Tempest (a play with the same title, by Aime Cesaire, 1969), King Lear (Lear, a play by Edward Bond, 1971). Many of the theatrical productions of plays (by Shakespeare and others) can be called retellings in view of the new interpretations they provide and of the changes they make in plot or characterization.


The aim of the retelling (this as well of many others) is thus to revive myths, legends and historical events which may be in danger of being forgotten. The aim, the socio-cultural context, and the writer’s perception of it and of the needs and level of the audience determine what is to be retold (myths, folk tales, historical accounts of heroes), how much of it is to be retold (in abridged form, with only the most important incidents and deeds), and how, in what form (the genre of comic books). Basically, these retellings flow from the awareness that the past has much that is culturally valuable to offer to the present.



“The story whose central ingredient is the question of what happens next, or what happened next, raises an anxiety of expectation satisfied only by the final denouement. Nobody knows what will happen in the next hour, next day, next week, next month, next year, years to come, in short, the future. In a story, as opposed to real life, one can know what happens next. A good storyteller is the one who raises anew the anxiety of expectation. From the tongue of a master storyteller, even when his listeners already know the general outline of the story and the ending, he or she is still able to recreate afresh in the listener, the anxiety of expectation and then satisfy it. The story becomes new in every telling and retelling.”

Q 3. Select a book/story you have read which has also been turned into a film and see how the change of presentation has affected the work. (20)

Ans) The film '3 Idiots' is based on Chetan Bhagat's best-selling novel Five Point Someone. This film broke all box office records and became the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time in the world. After watching this movie, we learned some important lessons, such as don't chase success; instead, strive for excellence first, and success will find you. Always be creative in your responses, work, and activities that help you become more capable on your own. The public feud between the author of Five Point Someone, Chetan Bhagat, and the makers of the film based on it, Three Idiots, does not appear to be over. While Chetan claims that roughly 70% of the film is based on the book, the film's lead actor, Aamir Khan, believes that only 5% of the book is represented in the film.

Presentation of work between the 3 idiots movie and the novel Five Point Someone



  1. In general, the plot of the film and the book are the same. Both stories revolve around three engineering students who form an inseparable friendship as a result of incidents that occur on campus.

  2. The three characters in the novel are strikingly similar to those in the film. While one of them, Ryan (Aamir as Rancho), is a radical who thinks differently than the others, the other, Hari (Madhavan as Farhaan), is a befuddled character. Alok (Sharman as Raju) is the book's third character, and he is under severe financial and domestic pressures.



  1. Though the narrators are the same, the book's narrator, Hari, romances the professor's daughter, while the filmmakers give Rancho the romantic mileage.

  2. The paper stealing incident is the book's turning point. It drives Alok to commit suicide by jumping out the window. This scene is twisted in the film, as Raju jumps out the window after Boman decides to rusticate him for hooliganism.

  3. The most noticeable difference occurs in the second half of the film. While the book ends at graduation, the film continues on with the characters' lives until ten years later. It discusses how their careers have evolved and how their mediocrity in college influenced their future.


Despite the fact that the film Three Idiots is based on "Five Point Someone," it has been slightly altered here and there. The film was designed around Aamir Khan's character, and in order to give him a larger role, some of the other characters' scenes were merged with Aamir's.

Almost all of the characters in the book are equally important.


Main Characters:

1) Ryan Oberoi(book)=Rancho (Aamir khan in movie)

2) Hari Kumar=Farhan Qureshi (Madhavan in movie)

3) Alok Gupta= Raju Rastogi (Sharman Joshi in movie)

4) Neha Cherian=Pia Sahastrabuddhe (Kareena Kapoor in movie).


Ryan Oberoi in the book and Rancho in the film represent the same characters, but Ryan was not a college topper in the book. Oberoi and Rancho differ greatly in terms of their family backgrounds as well as their personalities. Hari and Farhan play the same characters, and in the book, Hari is the romantic hero who begins a romance with the professor's daughter; in the film, Rancho, played by Aamir, takes on this role. Unlike in the film, the couples in the book divorce at the end. In the film, Alok Gupta's character was almost identical to Raju's. There isn't much of a difference between the book and the film. In addition, Hari and Neha have a physical relationship in the book. But in the film, they don't even kiss until the end. Many minor characters were also created for the film.

Q 4. What is ‘inter-literariness’? Explain with relevant examples. (20)

Ans) Whereas 'literariness,' the fundamental quality of all literature, is concerned with one region and its language, it becomes 'interliterariness,' when it crosses borders or barriers of region and language and establishes its presence, albeit with variations that stem from the cultural site in which that work has been re-located, re-used, or re-created.



In the postcolonial era, comparative literature issues have become more complex. Postcolonialism asserted national identity as a countermove to colonial domination, which erased the identity of a nation, a people, and its culture by committing "epistemic violence" (to borrow a core phrase from Gayatri Spivak) and assisted a nation to place its own canonical works and alternative genres in opposition to European history and historiography.


While this has been a historical necessity since the rise of postcolonial studies in the 1990s, it has not been without complications. The abstract concept of nation and national unity was unable to do justice to the concrete differences in language, culture, and literature that were evident in different regions. As a result, a sensitive understanding of postcolonial resistance to European Comparative Literature, with its Genealogy, Thematology, literary history, literary criticism, genetic studies, influence and reception studies, canon formation, and so on, is required.


Marian Gálik expands on Dionz Duriin's concept of 'interliterariness' as a comparative tool. The fundamental quality of all literature is 'literariness,' which becomes 'interliterariness' when its characteristics "exceed the boundaries of individual literatures" in terms of "intensity, variability, mutual relations, or affinities." As examples, he cites the treatment of epic women in Euro-Asian literatures, such as Helen, Sita, and Draupadi. Thus, 'literariness' is concerned with a single region and its language; 'interliterariness' occurs when a feature crosses zonal, regional, and linguistic barriers and registers a pervasive presence with striking variations, depending on the cultural location in which it is absorbed, reused, and recreated.



1. For example, after being cursed for adultery by her sage husband, Ahalya is depicted in both northern and southern retellings of Valmiki's Ramayana as languishing and living only on air (vayupakshanirahara), whereas another southern retelling (Dharmalaya) turns her into a stone (silabhutva). Kamban renders the curse similarly in Tamil, possibly based on ancient Sangam poetical versions of Ahalya's storey (Manavalan. Interliterariness is undeniably rooted in cultural doctrines and practises, in this case concerning the body of a woman in patriarchal societies.


2. In the Ramayana, Ahalya's storey. Although the basic plot is the same, there are significant differences between the northern and southern recensions of the Valmiki Ramayana, also known as the Kamba Ramayana in Tamil or the Ramayana in Malayalam. Indra, King of the Devas, seduced Ahalya, Sage Gautama's wife, in the disguise of her husband, and the Rishi cursed her when he discovered the affair. She was redeemed when Rama's feet later touched her.


This is a condensed version of the storey. Professor A.A. Manavalan has done an interesting comparative analysis of various texts of the Valmiki Ramayana and versions in various Indian languages appearing in different periods in his research work in Tamil Ramakathaiyum Ramayanangalum [The Story of Rama and the Many Ramayanas], which I believe is an example of 'interliterariness' in comparative criticism.


The concept of interliterariness proposed by comparatists best explains the Indian phenomenon of translations/retellings. When "literariness" crosses zonal, regional, and linguistic barriers and registers a pervasive presence but with striking variations, depending on the cultural location in which a feature is absorbed, reused, and recreated, it becomes "interliterariness." Amiya Dev sees "interliterariness" as a way out of the "unity vs. diversity" debate and similar abstractions. The fact that interliterariness is most conspicuous "where contacts between literatures are a sine qua non [essential condition] of their development" demonstrates that the concept is eminently appropriate in the Indian context.


Q 5. Explain ‘magical realism’ with examples from texts/films you have read/seen. (20)

Ans) Magic realism is a fictional movement that is connected with a style of writing that incorporates supernatural occurrences into realistic narrative without questioning the plausibility of the events. This style of writing is known as "magic realism."


Magic realism is a mythical movement that is connected with a style of writing or performance that integrates magical or paranormal occurrences into realistic narrative without questioning the plausibility of the occurrences. This style of writing or performance is known as "magic realism." The focus of magic realism is on the material object and the actual existence of things in the world, as opposed to the more cerebral, psychological, and subconscious aspects of reality that surrealists explored. Magic realism is related to, but distinguishable from, surrealism due to this focus on the material object and the actual existence of things in the world.


There is a subgenre of literature known as magical realism that depicts the real world as having a thread of magic or fantasy running through it. Within the realm of fiction known as realism, the magical realism subgenre can be found. A work of magical realism depicts a world that is still firmly rooted in our own, but one in which fantastical elements are not only present but accepted as part of everyday life. The line between fantasy and reality is intentionally blurred in magical realist novels and short stories, much like it is in fairy tales.


The term "magical realism" refers to a style that is frequently used in writing and filmmaking to depict fantastical occurrences within otherwise realistic environments. The goal of the genre is to make the seemingly fantastical appear as if it were something that happens every day, often with a dash of humour or horror.

Example of Realism in Chronicle of Death

Garcia Marquez reaches the creative pinnacle of his use of the magical realist genre in his novel Chronicle of a Death Foretold. The events of the storey take place in a rural community in which everyone is familiar with the activities of their neighbours. Everyone is taken aback when they learn that Santiago Nasar has been murdered.


Nevertheless, in spite of the fact that nobody saw it coming, everybody thinks they know who was responsible for such a crime and what motivated them to do it. In this passage, Garcia Marquez makes use of the magical realist technique to demonstrate how people are capable of being so oblivious to reality that they are unable to even accept something as fundamental as death, even when it is staring them in the face.


Example of realism in Midnight Children

In midnight children, author Salman Rushdie employs the style of magic realism known as sequence of events, which combines elements of fantasy and reality. In the novel midnight children, he employs the narrative style known as magic realism to blur the lines between reality and the fantastical elements of the storey.


The extraordinary is treated with the same level of acceptance as the mundane by him. He interweaves lyrical and, at times, fantastic writing with an investigation into the nature of the human experience and covert criticism of society, particularly those at the pinnacle of society. One could say that Rushdie is a writer who engages in experimentation with the literary style known as magic realism.


The novel Midnight's Children is a fictional response to a number of real-life circumstances that have been deftly fictionalised through oblique and overt allusions to the recent and not so recent history of the country. These allusions have been used to cleverly fictionalise the novel. The novel covers an impressively broad swath of time, spanning approximately sixty years of the history of the Indian subcontinent.

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