The House of Infinite Bliss

Thapa, Rosie (2022) The House of Infinite Bliss. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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This PhD submission consists of a novel, The House of Infinite Bliss, and a commentary, Stranger in the House, that reflects on the writing of the novel. The novel is set in Kathmandu in the winter of 2010, in the aftermath of Nepal’s civil war and explores what happens when Gita, a young Maoist ex-combatant, goes to work as a maid in one of the city’s once-grand houses, Ananda Niwas. Through the point of view of Gita, four other servants, and the daughter of the house, the novel explores the different power relationships that exist between them as Gita confronts her war-time involvement in a terrible event. The commentary consists of four chapters. In Chapter One I consider the formal research that I undertook to discover the reasons that women and girls joined the Maoist cause in Nepal. In this chapter I reflect on the relationship between my formal research and the compositional process, also called ‘practice-based research’. I consider the constructive tension that exists between formal research and practice-based research and what this has taught me in terms of my own writing process. Chapter Two examines the significance of the ‘big house’ in Nepali culture and society in terms of its architectural presence and its cultural and political symbolism, and the opportunities this afforded me in the writing of the novel. Certain technical choices had to be made during the writing process in order to exploit narrative opportunities or solve narrative problems. In Chapter Three I chart the reasons for these choices, including how the shifting narrative focus and the narrative structure of the novel bring together an exploration of power structures through its characters, and how the novel’s interlocking of points of view and the exploration of consciousness through its characters construct the fluidities of time in the narrative. In Chapter Four I discuss the ethical implications of Nepali characters being given a voice by a non-Nepali, the implications of this novel being written in English, and my intended audience. I conclude the commentary by considering where the experience of writing the novel has taken me as a PhD candidate and a writer, and consider my PhD’s original contribution to knowledge.

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Thesis (PhD)
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10 Oct 2022 14:35
Last Modified:
12 Sep 2023 00:53