Novel “The Palace of Illusions” (2008) by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni as an Example of Cross-cultural Hybridization
In the novel The Palace of Illusions (2008) by the popular Indian-American writer Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, the ancient Indian epic Mahābhārata is narrated from the point of view of its main heroine Draupadi. Thus, the author gives a new reading and interpretation to the text, which is an extremely important and revered part of the Indian cultural heritage. The image of Draupadi in the novel does not correspond to the traditional figure of the epic heroine. Her motives and character are "modernized" and are made easy to connect for a contemporary and reader; her aspirations and her voice belong to a woman of the present day. At the same time, it can be found that on the ideological level the novel follows quite closely the philosophical concepts of the ancient Indian epic. To come to this conclusion, in my study the main ideas of the novel were compared with the philosophical provisions present in the Bhagavadgītā, that is part of the sixth book of the epic and is perceived today as the doctrinal, philosophical and moral core of the Mahābhārata. In the novel by Ch. B. Divakaruni, the stories of mythical past are reconstructed, reinterpreted from the standpoint of modernity, and used to find answers to questions that are relevant to us today (about an individual quest for purpose, love and happiness, place in the world, etc.). At the same time, The Palace of Illusions combines elements of modern Western and traditional Indian worldviews. Thus, the novel is addressed both to orthodox traditionalists and to representatives of the diaspora, who are losing touch with their cultural heritage. It can be viewed as an interesting example of cultural, as well as cross-cultural hybridization.