In this essay I ask whether there is a mode of writing that we can call “underdeveloped.” I examine two writers from the periphery, Abdullah bin Abdul Kadir and V. S. Naipaul, in order to consider how realist modes take effect in social formations where institutions of the modern nation-state and capitalism are absent. I draw upon Georg Lukács's reflections on historical consciousness and the European novel to consider the differences between realist forms as they are deployed in the metropolis and the periphery.

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