Sinhalese literary and cultural aesthetics: Martin Wickramasinghe's novels Gamperaliya and Viragaya

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This paper will introduce the unique aesthetics of Sri Lankan (Sinhalese) literary and cultural traditions through an examination of the fiction of the literary critic and novelist, Martin Wickramasinghe. Wickramasinghe published the first realist novels in Sinhala during the mid-twentieth century when, liberating itself from British imperialist rule, Sri Lanka was rejuvenating its national literature and culture as vital aspects of national identity. Due to the significance of themes embedded in Buddhism and village culture (long suppressed by centuries of European colonization) and sophistication of technique, Wickramasinghe is recognized in Sri Lanka as the most important Sinhalese novelist to date. While he appropriated the form and structure of the Western novel, returning to the pre-modern Sinhala poetic tradition Wickramasinghe fictionalized the aesthetics of Sinhalese Buddhist social and cultural traditions. This paper offers a reading of his seminal novels, Gamperaliya (1944) and Viragaya (1956). By reading this culture-specific literature against the backdrop of its own poetics, this paper will contribute to the transcultural and transnational space of world literatures written in languages other than English.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77 - 87
Number of pages11
JournalAnglistica AION
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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