Cosmopolitan potential in Woolf, Desai, Rushdie, and Mitchell
Robinson, Sarah Marie
May 11, 2016
This thesis examines the ways in which modern and contemporary literature engage with and rehearse various turns in cosmopolitan theory. I analyze Immanuel Kant’s writings on perpetual peace, Karl Jaspers’ different concepts of guilt, and Jacques Derrida’s discussions of hospitality in relation to Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, Anita Desai’s Baumgartner’s Bombay, Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, and David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. I argue that these novels explore various sources of potential for sympathy and for the formation of cosmopolitan connections and that in their rehearsal of various cosmopolitan theories, they emphasize the role of new and unexpected combinations as a means of cultivating sympathy and acknowledging the various factors influencing present and future relations. Literature offers explorations of the various possibilities of these combinations, resisting static or prescribed modes of understanding national or global conditions.
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