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Rebirth of a nation or ’The incomparable toothbrush’: the origin story and narrative regeneration in Sri Lanka

Salgado, M (2012) Rebirth of a nation or ’The incomparable toothbrush’: the origin story and narrative regeneration in Sri Lanka. South Asian Review, 33. pp. 239-256. ISSN 0038-2841

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Abstract

I examine the post-Independence role of Sri Lanka's origin story, revealing the ways in which the foundational myth of the Mahavamsa functions as a conflicted site of cultural “encompassment” (Kapferer) in literary and political discourse. Through an analysis of the fiction of Tissa Abeysekara, Carl Muller and the assassinated president Ranasinghe Premadasa, I show how the scripting of this myth in fiction reveals a shift from the celebratory drives of nationalism to a critique of patriotism in a way that both reflects and anticipates a broader paradigmatic shift in the construction of belonging and the outsider found in post-war Sri Lanka.

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