Friday, April 4, 2014

Literary Ruralism (Part IX): Jhumpa Lahiri's The Lowland

This highly acclaimed novel begins with two brothers growing up in Calcutta in the 1950s and 1960s.  Given how often I hear the word "village" used to refer to any of a wide variety of places, especially in the developing world but also in places like New England, I found this passage of particular interest.  It is at the juncture at which Subhash, the eldest son, has gone off to university:
A few months later Subhash also traveled to a village: This was the word the Americans used. An old-fashioned word, designating an early settlement, a humble place. And yet the village had once contained a civilization: a church, a courthouse, a tavern, a jail. 
The university had begun as an agricultural school. A land grant college still surrounded by greenhouses, orchards, fields of corn. On the outskirts were the lush pastures of scientifically cultivated grass, routinely irrigated and fertilized and trimmed.
p. 34.

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