Colonial Empires of the East and the Eest: Images of the Other, from Tacito to David Malouf, from Salman Rushdie to Michael Ondaatje

Elvira Gòdono

Abstract


Many centuries before Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902) and Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901) were published, the East and West were still divided, as in Tacito’s De Germania, by a limes also visible in David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life (1978), in which the poet Ovid exiled at Tomi, is friends with the savage Child, of animal nature in a human body, similar to the metamorphic migrants of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988), which hides the magnificent and ancient East of Mahābhārata and Rāmāyana in many Western identities, lost in diabolic European cities. This chaotic antithesis in Michael Ondaatje’s pages lets Sri Lanka’s childish ghosts float amidst stories of peregrination and in search of a Promised Land.

In the Skin of a Lion (1987) includes an epigraph from the ancient poem of Gilgamesh, an Eastern echo in a novel profoundly important for many Western studies that often focus on the theory of the canon or on postmodern literature. These categories are discussed with the prospect of broadening cultural and post-colonial studies, in order to merge theory of genres and thematic criticism with anthropology, mythology, and ethnology.

Multiple citations expand the original object of research, adding the colonial prophecy present in North American myths, as demonstrated by Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence or Lévi-Strauss. Incessantly moving from one space to another, authors give voice to the native cry from multiple perspectives, narrating – like all colonial empires founded on human cruelty– the beast’s nature that has shown its worst aspect.


Keywords


City; Rushdie; Ondaatje; Malouf; Atwood

Full Text:

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/313

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17565

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