India and England in the Mirror. A Post-imperial Portrait of Tom Stoppard

Lucia Esposito


The paper is focused on a sophisticated radio play by Tom Stoppard, In the Native State (1991), in which the dramatist approaches the problems linked to the ethics of the British Empire in dealing with Indian culture in both the colonial and post-colonial periods. To do this, the play confronts and complexly interlaces two different sets, India in the Thirties and London in 1990, as if they were two worlds reflecting themselves in a time mirror. The issues dealt with, such as the centuries-old westernization of the Indian minds and culture on one side, and the Indianization of British language and customs on the other, are subtlety treated in art terms, as the reciprocal relationship between the two worlds conflates in the hybrid style of the portraits executed by the hand of an Indian painter who, notwithstanding, or thanks to, his mimic identity (in Homi Bhabha’s terms), becomes the mouthpiece of a fundamental ‘change of perspective’, from the Eurocentric representation of the Orient (in Edward Said’s terms) to the re-appropriation of a different point of view translating the achievement of the Nationalist movement that led India to independence in the Forties.


Eurocentrism; Colonialims; Postcolonial; Representation; Portrait; Mimesis; Mimicry

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