Amorality, Immorality and Individualism in Hanif Kureishi’s Intimacy

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Hanif Kureishi, an acclaimed contemporary British writer of Pakistani origin, is known to the Romanian reading public primarily through the translations (under the aegis of the Humanitas publishing house) of his novels Intimacy, The Buddha of Suburbia, The Nothing, Gabriel’s Gift and Something to Tell You. One of the foremost representatives of British postcolonial literature, Kureishi masterfully, and at times shockingly, explores the postmodern urban world of human desolation, loneliness and alienation, with the surgical precision and mercilessness of a “terrorist”, as he himself describes the writer and his artistic mission in an interview. Intimacy, in a classic Proustian or Joycean manner, offers a glimpse into twenty-four hours in the life of a middle-aged Londoner, Jay, who fed up with the monotony and routine of his marriage, decides to leave his wife and children in order to pursue a passionate sexual relationship with a younger lover. The novel thematizes such concerns as the clash between traditional values and (post)modern society, between individualism / narcissism and moral duty, morality versus amorality / immorality, and the inevitable alienation of the individual who experiences these conflicts. The present paper aims at offering a reading of Kureishi’s text starting from the writer’s claim that “I’ve never had any desire to be good. (…) I don’t like goodness particularly. I like passion.” From the vantage point of this confession we shall proceed to analyze Intimacy not as a moral handbook, but as the eternal plight of the human soul, caught between the painfulness of duty and the irresistible call of passion.

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