1. bookVolume 20 (2020): Issue 2 (December 2020)
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
First Published
30 Aug 2019
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
access type Open Access

“The Reason for War is War”: Western and Eastern Interrogations of Violence in Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost

Published Online: 12 May 2021
Page range: 94 - 113
Journal Details
License
Format
Journal
First Published
30 Aug 2019
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
Languages
English
Abstract

Michael Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost (2000) is set in civil war-torn Sri Lanka. This contemporary violent moment becomes a rupture through which the writer interrogates the division between Western and Eastern ways of approaching a violent situation. This essay sets out to investigate historical instances of violence and justifications for violence in the Buddhist context. The essay then turns to Buddhist scholars’ contemporary critical examination of violence and war in light of the teachings of ancient Buddhist texts. Then, having established the Buddhist history and contemporary debate around violence and war, the essay explores how Ondaatje comments on this history through the contemporary moment of civil war in Sri Lanka. The essay argues that rather than illustrating the need for a purer Buddhism or the separation between the political and the religious, as some scholars have argued in relation to Anil’s Ghost, according to Ondaatje, the only way to approach the problem of violence with any hope of reaching understanding is through appreciating the different ways of knowing offered by the East and the West.

Keywords

Bartholomeusz, Tessa J. In Defence of Dharma: Just-War Ideology in Buddhist Sri Lanka. London: Routledge, 2002. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Deegalle, Mahinda. “Norms of War in Theravada Buddhism.” World Religions and Norms of War. Ed. Vesselin Popovski, Gregory M. Reichberg, and Nicholas Turner. New York: United Nations UP, 2009. 60-86. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Demiéville, Paul. “Buddhism and War.” Buddhist Warfare. Ed. Michael K. Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. Trans. Michelle Kendall. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Goldman, Marlene. “Representations of Buddhism in Ondaatje’s Anil’s Ghost.” Comparative Cultural Studies and Michael Ondaatje’s Writing. Ed. Steven Tӧtӧsy de Zepetnek. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue UP, 2005. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Kemper, Steven. The Presence of the Past: Chronicles, Politics, and Culture Studies in Sinhala Life. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 1991. Print. Search in Google Scholar

McClure, John A. Partial Faiths: Postsecular Fiction in the Age of Pynchon and Morrison. Athens, GA: U of Georgia P, 2007. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Ondaatje, Michael. Anil’s Ghost. Toronto: McClelland, 2000. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Popovski, Vesselin, Gregory M. Reichberg, and Nicholas Turner, eds. World Religions and Norms of War. New York: United Nations UP, 2009. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Spinks, Lee. Michael Ondaatje. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2009. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Stanton, Katherine. Cosmopolitan Fictions: Ethics, Politics, and Global Change in the Works of Kazuo Ishiguro, Michael Ondaatje, Jamaica Kincaid, and J.M. Coetzee. New York: Routledge, 2006. Print. Search in Google Scholar

Recommended articles from Trend MD

Plan your remote conference with Sciendo