The first-person plural in Hanif Kureishi's essays

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In this discussion I examine the significance of the first-person plural in selections from Hanif Kureishi’s Collected Essays (2011). I identify two distinct ways in which it is employed, during two distinct periods of his writing. In his essays of the late 1980s Kureishi uses ‘we’ only rarely, and with notable care, always signalling for whom else he might be attempting to speak. In his essays about ‘fundamentalism’, however, especially those written after the London bombings of July 2005, his use of the first-person plural functions to interpellate the reader in a way not seen in the earlier writing. I argue that the rhetoric of defending liberalism which dominates this later writing can therefore be read as sacrificing a liberal aesthetic which enacts, rather than insists upon, openness and tolerance. The potential of the meditative literary essay as a form which might embody such a liberal aesthetic especially effectively may thereby be lost.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-149
Number of pages17
JournalThe Journal of Commonwealth Literature
Issue number2
Early online date26 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


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