Postcolonial critical theory is currently experiencing a period of upheaval. It is becoming increasing clear that the field's concentration on geopolitical bifurcation has provided an incomplete paradigm for critical literary analysis. The current approach incorrectly separates literature (and the analysis thereof), into that of former colonies and that of former colonial powers, with each having distinct critical methodologies that are considered appropriate. I argue that Dipesh Chakrabarty's method of provincializing, or the constant accumulation of new and divergent viewpoints to shape analysis through an iterative process, is a promising, but not new, critical paradigm.
Chakrabarty's contribution to postcolonial studies is interesting because it offers a critical methodology that is fruitful when applied to two novels that have traditionally provided great critical difficulties, Tristram Shandy and Midnight's Children. In my analysis of the two works I will argue that they are only properly understood as precursors to Chakrabarty's theories of critical analysis. Both use the novel as an outlet for the very procedural criticism that Chakrabarty recommends. Each novel proceeds to its end by continually modeling methods of knowing based on ideology and then undermining them by depicting them from alternate viewpoints that reveal their ridiculousness. The only methodology for gaining knowledge that remains effective under such parodic scrutiny is the very iterative movement toward knowledge that Chakrabarty recommends.