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'Ball-bearings all the way, and never a dull moment!' : an analysis of the writing of G.V. Desani

Bainbridge, Emma (2003) 'Ball-bearings all the way, and never a dull moment!' : an analysis of the writing of G.V. Desani. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94188) (KAR id:94188)


This thesis explores the writing of G. V. Desani and his impact on the literary scene both then and now.

Chapter One considers how Desani uses comedy as an enabling tool in Hatterr’s quest for a sense of identity. In order to be able to locate Desani’s particular use of comedy, this chapter also considers some of the more traditional theories of comedy. These are then aligned with a novel that challenges traditional categorisation. The second chapter begins a debate that continues through the following two chapters - that of revision. Desani was obsessed with revising his texts, taking over fifty years to produce what he considered to be his definitive version of Hatterr. This second chapter introduces some of the theoretical concerns regarding revision and considers why an author chooses to revise. The theoretical paradigm explored in this chapter is used to consider two areas of Hatterr, food and women. Chapter Three considers Desani’s food revisions and Chapter Four focuses on women within the text. Hatterr’s relationship with women is a fraught one and this chapter charts the deterioration in his relationship with the women he encounters, his wife, his laundry-woman, a circus performer and a number of women who appear to him in dreams, visions and stories. Chapter Five considers Desani’s most elusive work. Published in 1950 Hali was to be Desani’s greatest work and, in the first instance, met with much positive critical acclaim. However, it soon became clear that much of the criticism was couched in terms of ambiguity and confusion. This criticism is debated and is aligned with a consideration of early criticism of Indian writing in English. The ambiguity surrounding Hali continues in the penultimate chapter of this thesis as Desani attempted to gain radio air-time for his work. This chapter outlines his correspondence with the BBC at this time and offers an insight into the complexities of attempting to accommodate an unfamiliar text within the familiar medium of radio. The final chapter of this thesis moves the debate on to the language employed by Desani. Issues of bricolage and cultural belonging are debated alongside textual analysis in All About H. Hatterr.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94188
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 14 Jul 2023 14:04 UTC
Last Modified: 17 Jul 2023 16:20 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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