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An existentialist reading of K.S. Maniam’s ‘The Return’

Saroja Dhanapal


According to Peyre (1948:21), the fathers and forefathers of existentialism were mostly Germans, but it was adapted and transformed by the French and was re-exported to the rest of the world. Peyre’s inference reduces the history of existentialism to a nutshell. Existentialism can be defined as an intellectual movement that reflects all aspects of modern life. In literature, this theory acts as a useful approach to analysing literary works in order to make sense of the complexities, contradictions and dilemmas surrounding the characters. The purpose of this research paper is to study the novel of Subramaniam Krishnan, popularly known as K. S. Maniam, an Indian Malaysian academic and novelist, from an existentialist perspective. His novels deal with the lives and problems of the post-colonial Indian Diaspora in Malaysia. In 2000, he received the Raja Rao Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Literature of the South Asian Diaspora. His first novel ‘The Return’ is an autobiographical novel which deals with cultural struggle and cultural identity. This novel will be analysed from an existential perspective. 


existentialism; meaninglessness; choices

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