Elegiac Asides on Gauri's Side: Affirmative Melancholia and Ontological Risking in Jumpha Lahiri's The Lowland"

sudebi giri


Elegiac Asides on Gauri’s Side: Affirmative Melancholia and Ontological Risking in Jumpha Lahiri’s The Lowland


Exploring the diasporic experience of Indian immigrants and the dynamics of hybridity has remained a pet concern in Jumpha Lahiri’s writing. But what has been another opening debate in her work is the question of loss and recovery and its dual implication on the melancholic’s ontological immunity. If loss is memorialized in the form of grief-work, then does the lost lives as a trace in our being/ Self/Ego?If the trace of the loss is acknowledged by the mourner, then melancholia is said to be affirmative in the sense that he/she adopts the loss as a part of his/her Self. The ambivalence emerges when the autonomy of the Self is sought in such a situation. At one level it loses its ontological purity in assimilating the loss and at another level it seems to be resisting all forces thwarting its desire of Selfhood. This resistance is however neutralized under the guilt of comporting the socio-cultural inscriptions that the Self is imposed upon and the inability to conquer the loss which leads to self- criticism and the criticism of the loss which leads to Ontological risking.

  Unlike her predecessors, Gauri in The Lowland is conventionally seen as dismembering from the traditional lineage of motherhood because of the melancholia brought about by the death of Udayan, her husband. The diasporic space is seen as a potential site to dramatize the resistance played out in her psychic space to encumber the loss. In her elegiac protest she arms herself in the pursuit of Philosophy to transcend the loss and get ontological autonomy. The paper aims in highlighting the claims of giving up the cultural inscriptions of performativity and the ambivalence caused by the inflicting lost Other that makes melancholia affirmative and Selfhood a lost revolt.



Lahiri, Selfhood, Affirmative Melancholia, Ontology, Lost Other, Performativity, Psychic, Diaspora

Full Text:



Allison, Dorothy. Cavedweller. Plume Printing Press. ISBN-0-525-941673. 1990. Print

Benjamin, Walter. The Origin of German Tragic Drama. Trans: John Osborne. London, NLB, 1977.Print.

Butler, Judith. The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection. Stanford,Stanford University Press,1997.Print

-“Giving an Account of Oneself”. Diacritics, 3(2001):31-.4.Hopkins University Press.Print

Clewell, Tammy. “Mourning Beyond Melancholia: Freud’s Psychoanalysis of Loss”.APSAA Committee on Research and Special Training.2002.Print

Damasio,Antonio. The Feeling of What Happens. www.veganoutreach.org/articles/damasio.html 24th August, 2014

“Deontological Ethics”. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. www.plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-deontological/ December 12, 2012.Web. 8 September, 2014.

Freud, Sigmund. Civilization and Its Discontents. University of Winchester. www.winchester.ac.uk/edstudies/courses/pdf. 22nd August, 2014

-“Mourning and Melancholia”. Standard Edition. 14: (1917) 243-258. Print.

Foucault, Michel. “Of Other Spaces, Heterotopias”.Architectures, Movements, Continuite. 5(1984):46-49.Web. 24 th August, 2014

Hegel,G. W.F. Phenemenology of Spirit. trans. A.V Millia. Delhi: Shri Jainendra Press,1998.Print

Lahiri, Jhumpa. The Lowland. Alfred.A.Knof. New York:Toronto. ISBN978-0-307-26574-6,2013.Print

Lumsden, Simon. “Reason and Restlessness of the Speculative: Jean- Luc Nancy’s Reading of Hegel”. Critical Horizons 6:1, 2005. Print



Nietzche, Frederich. Beyond Good and Evil. Filiquarian Publishing: LLC, 2006.Print

Ramazani, J. Poetry of Mourning: The Modern Elegy From Hardy to Heaney. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. Print

Robert Burton.”The Anatomy of Melancholy”. www.wikipedia.org Web. 23rd August, 2014

Roland McIntyre and David Woodruff of Smith. “ Theory of Intentionality”.eds.J.N Mohanty and William R.Mc Kenna, Husserl’s Phenemology: A Textbook. Washington DC: Centre for Advanced Research in Phenemology and University Press of America, 1989.Print

Spivak, Gayatri Chakraborty.” Three Women’s Text and a Critique of Imperialism”.Critical Inquiry.1,1(1985): 243-261.Chicago University Press. Chicago Journals. Jstor 25 th October,2012. Web 20 th August 2014.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.