Primary Difference – Colonial vs Postcolonial Literature
The main difference between colonial and postcolonial literature lies in the time period the literature was created and the perspective of the literary text. Colonial literature refers to the literature that was written during the colonial period, before the decolonization. Postcolonial literature was written after the decolonization. Thus, the perspective of these two genres are also different; colonial literature contains the perspective of the colonisers whereas postcolonial literature is written in the perspective of the colonised or the formerly colonised people. Postcolonial literature can be defined as a challenge and resistance to the colonial perspectives. This is the main difference between colonial and postcolonial literature.
This article describes,
1. Characteristics of Colonial Literature
2. Characteristics of Postcolonial Literature
3. Primary Difference Between Colonial and Postcolonial Literature
Colonial Literature – Characteristics
Colonial literature refers to the literature during the period the colonisation, written from the perspective of the colonisers. These stories are usually set in the distant, colonised lands and explore the exotic strangeness of these colonised land. Most of these stories portrayed the colonisers as the superior race and colonised as inferior, often a primitive group of people. The main characters in colonial literature are often white; the colonised people only play subordinate roles. These works of literature portray colonisation and imperialism as natural processes, i.e., civilising the primitives.
Works of H. Rider Haggard (King Solomon’s Mine, She) and Rudyard Kipling (Kim) can be taken as examples of colonial literature.
Postcolonial literature refers to literature of countries that were colonised by European countries. These works are written by people in the former colonies and therefore discusses the problems and consequences of the colonisation and decolonization. However, some critics also argue that literature that expresses resistance and opposition to colonialism can be defined as postcolonial literature despite its author or period.
Characteristics of Postcolonial Literature
- Postcolonial writers describe native people, places and practices to counteract the inaccurate, generalised stereotypes created by the colonisers.
- Postcolonial writers chose to write in the language of the coloniser; however, most of them deliberately remould the language to reflect the rhythms of indigenous languages. They also invent new words, syntax and styles.
- Postcolonial writers also reshape and rework colonial art forms by incorporating indigenous styles, structures and themes such as oral poetry and dramatic performance.
Chinua Achebe, Arundhati Roy, Salman Rushdie, Anita Desai, NgũgĩwaThiong’o are some prominent postcolonial authors.
What is the Primary Difference Between Colonial and Postcolonial Literature
Colonial literature is the literature written during the colonisation, using colonies as a setting.
Postcolonial literature is the literature that expresses opposition or resistance to colonisation.
Colonial literature is often written from the perspective of the coloniser.
Postcolonial literature is written from the perspective of the former colonised.
Colonial literature portrays colonisation as a natural, unproblematic, often ‘correct’ process.
Postcolonial literature portrays the problems and consequences of colonisation and decolonization.
Indigenous People and Culture
Colonial literature often portrays indigenous people and culture savage or primitive.
Postcolonial literature attempts to describe indigenous people, places and practices to counteract the stereotypical images portrayed by the colonisers.
“T2JB503 – illustration” By W.H. Drake or John Lockwood Kipling – The 1895 edition of The Two Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling, a compilation of The Jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, downloaded from Archive.org (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
“Chinua Achebe – Buffalo 25Sep2008 crop” By Stuart C. Shapiro (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia