Enemies of Empire: New Perspectives on Imperialism, Literature and History, edited by

Eoin Flannery and Angus Mitchell. Dublin: Four Courts Press, pages 1601!1
"he #anguage o$ E%pire and the E%pire o$ #anguage: &oyce and the 'eturn o$ the
Postcolonial 'epressed
Eugene ()*rien
Depart%ent o$ English #anguage and #iterature
Mary +%%aculate College
,ni-ersity o$ #i%eric.
"hat language is a structural $actor in the politics o$ identity is -ery %uch a gi-en in the
conte/t o$ postcolonial studies. "he discourse o$ the postcolonial paradig% is one 0hich
is $raught 0ith 1uestions. +n a #acanian conte/t, all sub2ecti-ity is de$ined in ter%s o$
0hat is called the sy%bolic order, and this order is the structural %atri/ through 0hich
our grasp o$ the 0ord is shaped and enunciated.
For #acan, the sy%bolic order is 0hat
actually constitutes our sub2ecti-ity 3%an spea.s, then, but it is because the sy%bol has
%ade hi% %an).
+t is the %atri/ o$ culture and the locus through 0hich indi-idual desire
is e/pressed: 3the %o%ent in 0hich the desire beco%es hu%an is also that in 0hich the
child is born into language).
"he social 0orld o$ linguistic co%%unication,
intersub2ecti-e relations, .no0ledge o$ ideological con-entions, and the acceptance o$ the
la0 are all connected 0ith the ac1uisition o$ language. (nce a child enters into language
and accepts the rules and dictates o$ society, it is able to deal 0ith others.
"he sy%bolic, then, is %ade up o$ those la0s and restrictions that control both
desire and the rules o$ co%%unication, 0hich are perpetuated through societal and
cultural hege%onic %odes. #acan condenses this $unction in the ter% the 36a%e o$ the
Father). "hrough recognition o$ the 6a%e o$ the Father, one beco%es a %e%ber o$ a
society or culture. "he sy%bolic is about language and narrati-e. (nce a child enters into
language and accepts the rules and dictates o$ society, it is able to deal 0ith others. "he
sy%bolic is %ade possible because o$ the acceptance o$ the 6a%e o$ the Father, those
la0s and restrictions that control both desire and the rules o$ co%%unication: 3it is in the
Name of the father that 0e %ust recogni7e the support o$ the sy%bolic $unction 0hich,
$ro% the da0n o$ history, has identi$ied his person 0ith the $igure o$ the la0).
recognition o$ the 6a%e o$ the Father, entry into a co%%unity o$ others is %ade possible.
"he sy%bolic, through language, is 3the pact 0hich lin.s... sub2ects together in one
action. "he hu%an action par excellence is originally $ounded on the e/istence o$ the
0orld o$ the sy%bol, na%ely on la0s and contracts.
+n the case o$ the history o$ e%pire, the conse1uence o$ i%perial con1uest is the
gradual control o$ this sy%bolic order by the hege%onic i%perial language, :ree., #atin,
;panish, and, o$ course, English. +n the case o$ +reland, the gradual attenuation o$ the
+rish language, both through i%perial policy and through econo%ic necessity %eant that
in the %id eighteenth century, this sy%bolic order under0ent a paradig%shi$t $ro% the
+rish language to English. "his 0as also true o$ the cultural code o$ the sy%bolic order,
na%ely literature. +n ter%s o$ a <aber%asian social sphere, the language o$ that sphere
0as no0 English, and the binary opposition English+rish, 0hich has bede-iled +rish
history, 0as to achie-e $urther -alence in the linguistic idio%.
;ea%us Deane has asserted the i%portance o$ language in the colonial process =
in 0ays it is the ulti%ate +;A, in an Althusserian sense, as it interpellates sub2ects to see
the 0orld in its ter%s and gradually allo0s the% to beco%e enculturated into the culture
o$ that language.
As Deane puts it, English is 3not %erely the language o$ a country or
o$ an e%pire or o$ an in-ading culture> it is the language o$ a condition = %odernity).
"his o$ course %eans that the colonial and postcolonial encounter is rephrased in ter%s o$
the %odern and traditional encounter. "o be counter %odern is to be allied 0ith the
$orces o$ tradition, and in episte%ological and political ter%s, this is to place the
coloni7ed culture in a classic double bind.
+$ the language o$ the coloni7er is e%braced, there 0ill be a loss o$ di$$erential
indices o$ identity and tradition, and the 0hole concept o$ 3authenticity): i$ the original
language is recuperated, or re-i-ed, then the associated connotati-e i%plications are an
e%bracing o$ the past as opposed to the $uture, o$ tradition as opposed to %odernity, and
o$ ignorance as opposed to instru%ental reason. Either 0ay, the coloni7ed is le$t
dise%po0ered, $ore-er de$ining itsel$ in ter%s o$ the ;y%bolic order o$ the coloni7ed.
Asserted independence $or% the colonial ;y%bolic order can only be achie-ed by
espousing a nati-ist position, $ro% 0hich the coloni7ed is seen as -oluntarily e%bracing
the %ore bac.0ard conditions o$ the coloni7ed people, de facto 2usti$ying the 0hole
process o$ coloni7ation, 0hich 0as o$ten glossed by ter%s li.e 3protectorate). +$ any
proleptic 3ene%y o$ e%pire) 0as to raise his or her head abo-e the parapet, the issue o$
the language o$ e%pire needed to be ta.en into account.
And o$ course, the sa%e is true $or literature. As :auri ?is0anathen has put it:
"he i%portance o$ English literature $or this process could not be
e/aggerated@as the source o$ %oral -alues $or correct beha-iour and
action, it represented a con-enient replace%ent $or direct religious
<ence, language and literature $or%ed a sy%bolic order $or the coloni7ed, created by the
coloni7er, 0ithin 0hich the de$ault position o$ the coloni7ed 0as to be in$erior. "hus
literature ser-es an Arnoldian $unction by pro-iding a $or% o$ transcendental instruction
that a-oids any direct political charge, but 0hich creates an ideological sy%bolic order
0hich %ust be $aced by the spea.ing colonial sub2ect. +n all postcolonial conditions the
issue o$ language is crucial and +reland, ano%alous state as it %ay be, is no e/ception.
"here is the -e/ed issue o$ 0hether +rishness is intrinsically bound up 0ith the
spea.ing o$ the +rish language, $or e/a%ple. Many o$ the +rish 'e-i-alists sa0 a clear
connection bet0een the +rish language and the essence o$ +rish nationalis% and nation
$or%ation. <o0e-er, i$ +rish 0riting can no0 be enunciated in the English language, the
0hole picture is trans$or%ed. 'ichard Bearney cites a co%%ent o$ PCdraig Pearse)s that
underlines the se%inal nature o$ the %ode o$ enunciation o$ the +rish literary re-i-al.
Driting in An Claidheamh oluis in 1AEE, Pearse said:
Against Mr. Feats personally, 0e ha-e nothing to ob2ect. <e is a %ere
English poet o$ the third or $ourth ran. and as such he is har%less. *ut
0hen he atte%pts to run an G+rishH #iterary "heatre it is ti%e $or hi% to be
"he in-erted co%%as around the 0ord 3+rish) spea. -olu%es $or the i%perati-e that
under0rites Pearse)s opinions. For Pearse, and $or %any others, +rishness 0as de$ined in
ter%s o$ the +rish language> the use o$ the ad2ecti-e 3+rish) in connection 0ith any %ode
o$ co%%unication 0hose language o$ enunciation 0as English 0as an o/y%oron 0hich
could not be tolerated. +$ Feats 0rote in English, then ipso facto, he 0as an 3English
poet) in Pearse)s ter%s. <ence the -itriolic dis%issal o$ Feats as so%eone o$ little
conse1uence, a dis%issal that is undercut, ho0e-er, by the telling $inal -erb in the
1uotation as, i$ Feats is o$ such little conse1uence, 0hy is there a necessity $or hi% to be
3crushed)I Possibly because o$ the i%portance o$ literature in the creation o$ a national
sy%bolic order, a cultural $ra%e o$ re$erence 0as to assu%e ideological and political
i%portance in ter%s o$ naturalising and nor%alising . Dith the con1uest o$ +ndia by the
East +ndia Co%pany, and the English Education act o$ 1A59, the teaching o$ 3English) Jas
opposed to 3literature)K beca%e a political ar% o$ the continuance and nor%alisation o$
"he cultural and educational co%ponent o$ this 3%a.ing), in a colonial society, is
synony%ous 0ith ;ha.espeare. "he teaching o$ ;ha.espeare in +ndia, $or e/a%ple, 0as
predicated on the cultural di%ension o$ "ho%as McCauley)s 3Minute on Education),
published in 1A59 0hich $or%ed the basis $or #ord <arding)s policy, in 1A88, o$ gi-ing
pre$erence to English spea.ers $or 2obs in the go-ern%ent. McCauley)s ai% 0as to
a class o$ persons +ndian in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinion, in
%orals and in intellect. L<e also clai%ed thatM a shel$ o$ a good European library
is 0orth the 0hole nati-e literature o$ +ndia and Arabia.
+n ter%s o$ this e/$oliation o$ English culture throughout the *ritish e%pire, the teaching
o$ the 0or.s o$ ;ha.espeare 0as o$ se%inal i%portance> indeed, the proper na%e
Dillia% ;ha.espeare $unctions as a transcendental signi$ier, as synecdoche $or all things
English and cultured. "he subtle political %essage that is to be $ound, especially in the
tragedies, na%ely that those 0ho upset the hierarchy o$ institutionalised po0er do so at
their and their societies peril, 0as not lost on coloni7ed peoples. Macbeth, Claudius,
'egan and :oneril, (s0ald, politically, and (thello, racially, de%onstrate the $ate that
be$alls such resistance to the gi-en sociopolitical order, both $or the indi-idual
%icrocos% and the sociopolitical %acrocos%. As "erence <a0.es has put it,
3;ha.espeare is a po0er$ul ideological 0eapon)
0hich is a central $eature o$ the
discipline o$ 3English), and by e/tension, a $oundational plan. in the i%perial
!eltanschauun". #he #empest, $or e/a%ple, 0ith its routing o$ the bestial Caliban by an
enlightened Prospero can be seen as an allegory, and a 2usti$ication, o$ the coloni7ing
dri-e, and a locus classicus o$ the language o$ e%pire holding s0ay o-er its sub2ects.
<o0e-er, e%pires, by their nature, are transient and e-en as he e%bodied, in synecdoche,
the 7enith o$ the *ritish e%pire, it is through the 0or. o$ ;ha.espeare that another
colonial sub2ect began to in-ert the language o$ e%pire into the e%pire o$ language.
+n the 0or. o$ &a%es &oyce, the language o$ e%pire beco%es suasi-ely
trans$or%ed into the e%pire o$ language as the traditionally dise%po0ering language o$
the other is deconstructed, in a Derridean sense, in order to beco%e a trans$or%ational
discourse 0hich ree%po0ers the coloni7ed sub2ects as they see the%sel-es 0ithin a
;y%bolic order that is trans$or%ed. +n $lysses, in the Cyclops chapter, 0e $ind the
$ollo0ing list o$ heroes:
"he $igure seated on a large boulder at the $oot o$ a round to0er 0as that
o$ a broadshouldered deepchested strongli%bed $ran.eyed redhaired $reely
$rec.led shaggybearded 0ide%outhed largenosed longheaded deep-oiced
bare.need bra0nyhanded hairylegged ruddy$aced sine0yar%ed hero...Fro%
his girdle hung a ro0 o$ seastones 0hich dangled at e-ery %o-e%ent o$ his
portentous $ra%e and on these 0ere gra-en 0ith rude yet stri.ing art the
tribal i%ages o$ %any +rish heroes and heroines o$ anti1uity, Cuchulin,
Conn o$ hundred battles, 6iall o$ the nine hostages, *rian o$ Bincora, the
Ardri Malachi, Art MacMurragh, ;hane ()6eill, Father &ohn Murphy,
(0en 'oe, Patric. ;ars$ield...:oliath, "he ?illage *lac.s%ith, Captain
*oycott, Dante Alighieri, Christopher Colu%bus, ;aint Fursa, ;aint
*rendan, Charle%agne, "heobald Dol$e "one, the Mother o$ the
Macabees, the #ast o$ the Mohicans...6apoleon *onaparte,
Cleopatra...Dar. 'osaleen, Patric. D. ;ha.espeare.
"his list o$ 3Irish heroes and heroines o$ anti1uity) is an e/a%ple o$ a speci$ic $or% o$
0riting: that o$ a 3catalogue -erse) 0herein a list o$ entities is used to sho0 progression,
generation or, in this case, co%%onality. "he genre can be traced bac. to t0o o$ Destern
ci-ilisation)s canonical 0or.s: the genealogical list in the %oo& of 'enesis and the list o$
"ro2an Dar heroes in <o%er)s Iliad. +n $lysses, this catalogue is placed in the Cyclops
chapter 0herein +rish nationalis%, in the persona o$ the %onocular 3citi7en), and by
e/tension, the essentialist nationalist ideology o$ +rish identity, is being placed under
<o0e-er, in $lysses, the trope o$ na%ing is used to create a di$$erent e$$ect as
3Dillia% ;ha.espeare) beco%es 3Patric. D. ;ha.espeare.) <ere, the bard is
appropriated into a ne0 cos%os o$ identi$ication> na%e is trans$or%ed into trope, 0ith a
3turning a0ay) Jthe original %eaning o$ 3tropeK $ro% colonial associations into those o$
the postcolonial. "hat the na%e o$ ;ha.espeare undergoes a chias%ic trans$or%ation in
the ongoing process o$ transcultural Anglicisation that has ta.en place in +reland during
*ritish rule, is sy%bolic o$ &oyce)s pro2ect: na%ely the rede$inition and pluralisation o$
+rish identity. &oyce posits the notion o$ reciprocal interchange bet0een cultures: 2ust as
+rish language and culture beca%e Anglophone, so English, both the language and
culture, 0as li.e0ise altered by the interaction 0ith +reland. "he 3Patric.) in this ne0
no%inal paradig% stresses the -alue o$ ;ha.espeare in the +rish conte/t o$ &oyce)s
aesthetic theories, as 0ell as in his %ode o$ political identi$ication, and it is the
contention o$ this paper that this process o$ rede$inition o$ +rish identity is achie-ed under
the auspices o$ Patric. D. ;ha.espeare.
"he trans$or%ation o$ 3Dillia%) to 3Patric. D.) could, at $irst be seen as a classic
postcolonial re-ersal = the reappropriation o$ the synecdoche o$ Englishness through
2u/taposition 0ith a synecdoche o$ +rishness. <o0e-er, the other non+rish na%es in the
list o$ heroes 0ould see% to undercut this reading. +ndeed, the catalogue -erse in the
Cyclops chapter $unctions as an antiphrasis,
0ith the +rish and non+rish heroes
interrogating each other and this econo%y displaces the +rishNEnglish, colonialNpost
colonial binaris%s, the central de$ining $actors o$ +rish identity, and instead places the
na%es o$ both nations in a broader 0orld catalogue o$ -erse. "his catalogue e%phasises
the e%ancipatory $unction o$ Patric. D. ;ha.espeare 0ith respect to essentialist notions
o$ identity: this troped na%e -alidates neither +%perial Englishness nor nationalist
+rishness> rather 0ill it usher in reciprocality and plurality in ter%s o$ political identities.
+n this sense, this te/t is deconstructi-e in the technically correct sense:
Deconstruction cannot li%it itsel$ or proceed i%%ediately to a
neutrali7ation: it %ust, by %eans o$ a double gesture, a double science, a
double 0riting, practice an overturnin" o$ the classical opposition and a
general displacement o$ the syste%. +t is only on this condition that
deconstruction 0ill pro-ide itsel$ the %eans 0ith 0hich to intervene in the
$ield o$ oppositions that it critici7es, 0hich is also a $ield o$ nondiscursi-e
$orces. Each concept, %oreo-er, belongs to a syste%atic chain, and itsel$
constitutes a syste% o$ predicates. "here is no %etaphysical concept in and
o$ itsel$. "here is a 0or. %etaphysical or not on conceptual syste%s.
Deconstruction does not consist in passing $ro% one concept to another, but
in o-erturning and displacing a conceptual order, as 0ell as the
nonconceptual order 0ith 0hich the conceptual order is articulated.
&oyce sees the no%inal troping o$ Patric. D. ;ha.espeare as a liberation $ro% that sterile
+rishEnglish binaris%, and as a displace%ent o$ the language o$ e%pire into the e%pire
o$ language. +n (inne"ans !a&e, he re$ers to ;ha.espeare as
and later in the telling line 3all the ri-als to allsea,
sha.eagain, ( disasterO ;ha.elose).
<ere the na%e o$ ;ha.espeare is being in-o.ed to
e%po0er the sha.ing loose JagainK o$ the nets that &oyce $eels ;tephen %ust $ly by:
Dhen the soul o$ a %an is born in this country there are nets $lung at it to
hold it bac. $ro% $light. Fou tal. to %e o$ nationality, language, religion. +
shall try to $ly by those nets.
+ronically, ;ha.espeare, as the synecdoche $igure o$ Englishness 0ould see% to be an
unusual a-atar in this 1uest, but the 3%irror%inded) %an o$ (inne"ans !a&e
largely in &oyce)s 0or.. "he changed na%e o$ ;ha.espeare allo0s &oyce to sha.e up,
and sha.e lose the in$luences o$ +rish nationalis% and *ritish i%perialis%> in other 0ords,
the troped na%e o$ ;ha.espeare introduces a political $orce into &oyce)s 0riting, a $orce
0hich liberates notions o$ +rish identity $ro% the %onocular -ision o$ the Citi7en, and
instead introduces a European and 0orldbased -ie0 3anony%oses) o$ +rish identity. "he
co%posite na%e o$ Patric. D. ;ha.espeare, an e/a%ple o$ (inne"ans !a&e)s -ie0 o$ the
bard)s ability: as 3:reat ;hapesphere puns it),
allo0s hi% to reshape the sphere o$
national identity, and hence is a constituent $actor in the political di%ension o$ &oyce)s
;o%e literary detecti-e 0or. de%onstrates the place o$ ;ha.espeare in the literary
politics o$ &oyce, and this detecti-e 0or. begins 0ith A Portrait of the Artist as a )oun"
*an. "he na%e o$ 3;ha.espeare) is not to be $ound any0here in this no-el. <o0e-er,
Don :i$$ord has detected a ghostly ;ha.espearean presence in the genesis o$ ;tephen
Dedalus)s aesthetic theory. ;tephen)s aesthetic theory is underpinned by ?ictor <ugo)s
Pr+face to his play Cromwell. <ugo here lays out the tripartite di-ision o$ art in a
%anner si%ilar to that o$ ;tephen:
"hese $or%s are: the lyrical $or%, the $or% 0herein the artist presents his
i%age in i%%ediate relation to hi%sel$> the epical $or%, the $or% 0herein
he presents his i%age in %ediate relation to hi%sel$ and to others> the
dra%atic $or%, the $or% 0herein he presents his i%age in i%%ediate
relation to others...Land 0hereM he or she assu%es a proper and intangible
esthetic li$e... "he esthetic i%age in the dra%atic $or% is li$e puri$ied in and
repro2ected $ro% the hu%an i%agination. "he %ystery o$ esthetic, li.e that
o$ %aterial creation, is acco%plished. "he artist, li.e the :od o$ creation,
re%ains 0ithin or behind or beyond or abo-e his handi0or., in-isible,
re$ined out o$ e/istence, indi$$erent, paring his $ingernails.

;tephen)s highest $or% the dra%atic 0here each person 3assu%es a proper and
intangible esthetic li$e) is associated by <ugo 0ith the poetry o$ 3;ha.espeare, Dante
and Milton).
"his ;ha.espeareaninspired aesthetic is in direct opposition to the 3old
%an) in a %ountain cabin %et by &ohn Alphonsus Mulrennan in Chapter ? o$ A Portrait
of the Artist as a )oun" *an, 0ho e%bodies insularity and reactionary nationalis%:
3there %ust be terrible 1ueer creatures at the latter end o$ the 0orld).
"he $act that this
%an spea.s +rish is i%portant: English, 0hich can be seen as the sy%bol o$ colonial
oppression, can, by a chias%ic t0ist, also be seen as a 0orld language, and the gate0ay to
European and 0orld literature through translation. +ndeed, translation is a possible na%e
$or the trans$or%ation $ro% !illiam ha&espeare to Patric& !, ha&espeare.
<ere, ;ha.espeare as trope is a $igure o$ hybridity and syncretisation> he
sy%bolises an e%bracing o$ 0orld literature and also the e%ancipatory aspects o$ the
English language as spo.en in +reland. "he poetry o$ Milton, and translations o$ the
poetry o$ Dante 0ould not be so readily a-ailable to an +rish 0riter 0ere it not $or
coloni7ation, and the process o$ linguistic change that 0as coter%inous 0ith it. +n this
sense, ;tephen)s $light to Europe at the end o$ Portrait can be seen as inspired by the
ghostly presence o$ ;ha.espeare, or as he is signi$icantly ter%ed in (inne"ans !a&e 3that
$a-ourite continental poet, Daunty, :outy and ;hop.eeper).
"he troped na%e o$
Patric. D. ;ha.espeare sy%boli7es the possibilities that arise bet0een the trans$or%ing
intersections o$ England and +reland in ter%s o$ language and identity. +t is i%portant to
note the trans$or%ati-e dri-e at 0or. here. ;ha.espeare as *ritish national bard has been
trans$or%ed into 0hat is beauti$ully ter%ed in (inne"ans !a&e 3clasp sha.ers Jthe hand
touch 0hich is speech 0ithout 0ordsK).
"he na%e is the clasping o$ t0o cultures
together, and the result o$ this clasping is to sha.e the essentialist notions o$ both cultures
"his troped na%e is both an i%age o$ i%plied potential and a ghostly
$igure redolent o$ the past. "hat the ;ha.espearean presence in Portrait is %ediated
through the theoretical co%%ents o$ the French 0riter ?ictor <ugo $oregrounds the
%acrocos%ic place%ent o$ +rish political identity in the &oycean aesthetic, and re$ers
analeptically to the catalogue -erse at the beginning o$ this paper 0here the list o$ 3+rish
heroes and heroines) contains a %acrocos%ic de$inition o$ +rishness, 0ith %any o$ the
0or.s being a-ailable only through English translations, ghosts o$ the originals,
analogous to the ghostly presence o$ ;ha.espeare in Portrait. #i.e the -ision o$ the artist
in the $inal chapter o$ Portrait, the presence o$ ;ha.espeare re%ains 30ithin or behind or
beyond or abo-e) the te/t 3in-isible, re$ined out o$ e/istence).
"his ghostly ;ha.espearean presence is $oregrounded in ;tephen Dedalus)s
theory o$ ;ha.espeare in $lysses. As *uc. Mulligan puts it: 3+t)s 1uite si%ple. <e
pro-es by algebra that <a%let)s grandson is ;ha.espeare)s grand$ather and that he
hi%sel$ is the ghost o$ his o0n $ather).
"his abstract theorising about ;ha.espeare, li.e
the in-isible artist o$ the earlier Portrait 1uotation, allo0s $or the untangling o$ signi$ier
and re$erent. ;ha.espeare is no longer the ob2ect o$ cultural, Anglo;a/on bardolotary>
rather he is sy%bolic o$ a brea.ing do0n o$ essentialist para%eters o$ nationality and
"he use o$ 3Patric.) de%onstrates a linguistic and cultural %ediation o$
;ha.espeare in ter%s o$ +rish e/perience. +nterestingly in $lysses, chapter nine, 3;cylla
and Charybdis), there is re$erence to a French production o$ Hamlet:
Le -istrait Pi.ce de ha&espeare
<e repeated to &ohn Eglinton)s ne0gathered $ro0n:
Pi.ce de ha&espeare, don)t you .no0. +t)s so French. "he French point
o$ -ie0. Hamlet ou...
(nce again ;ha.espeare is %ediated through a continental in$luence, this ti%e Mallar%e,
again de%onstrating the protean po0er o$ Patric. D. ;ha.espeare as an a-atar o$ a
%acrocos%ic place%ent o$ +rish identity. "he -erb 3distraire) has the $ollo0ing
%eanings: 3to distract, a%use, separate, set aside) 0ith the added connotation o$ 3absent
%inded). "he separation o$ ;ha.espeare $ro% his position as national bard, the 3setting
aside) o$ the criteria o$ essentialist identity, the distraction $ro% Englishness, and the
trans$or%ation into Patric. D. ;ha.espeare, spectral presence o-er &oyce)s pluralisation
o$ +rish identity, proceeds a pace 0ith that ter%inal 3ou) J3or)K 0hich lea-es the 0ay open
$or polyse%ic connotations in ter%s o$ %eaning. "he ghostly presence in Portrait has
beco%e a ghostly i%age o$ the trans$or%ing o$ essentialist notions o$ Englishness into
polyse%ic and polyglot i%ages o$ +rish identity. +s Mallar%e)s Hamlet French or
EnglishI +s ?ictor <ugo)s conception o$ ;ha.espeare French or EnglishI Are +rish
per$or%ances o$ ;ha.espeare English or +rishI Dhat nationality is the A.ira Burisa0a)s
&apanese production o$ *ac/ethI For that %atter, 0hat is the language o$ &oyce)s
(inne"ans !a&eI
&oyce)s interrogation o$ essentialist attitudes to culture and nationality reaches a
cli%actic point in #eopold *loo%)s ans0er to the 1uestion:
Dhat is your nation i$ + %ay as.I says the citi7en as.ed
+reland, says *loo%. + 0as born here. +reland.
"his is the ulti%ate e%ancipatory ai% o$ the in-ocation o$ Patric& !, ha&espeare: the
pluralisation o$ identity 0hich allo0s a <ungarian &e0 to clai% +rish identity as al%ost an
accident o$ birth. "he troped na%e allo0s the disse%ination o$ the singular, colonial
i%age o$ 3;ha.espeare) into the polylinguistic and %ulti charactered i%age o$ pluralis%
and di$$erence. As Mr Deasy in $lysses as.s 3*ut 0hat does ;ha.espeare sayI) and then
ans0ers his o0n 1uestion, 3Put but %oney in thy purse), ;tephen %a.es this -ery point
by %ur%uring 3+ago).
"here is not one ;ha.espeare but rather, as &oyce notes in
(inne"ans !a&e 3%yriads o$ dri$ting %inds),
and these dri$ting %inds, these polyse%ic
characters, allo0 $or a ne0 politics o$ +rish identity, as epito%ised by #eopold *loo%)s
assertion o$ +rishness. *loo% e1uates such pluralistic identity 0ith a certain -ie0 o$
language, pre$iguring the postnationalist language o$ (inne"ans !a&e, and he again cites
;ha.espeare as a source o$ such a -ie0: 3*ut then ;ha.espeare has no rhy%es: blan.
-erse. "he $lo0 o$ the language it is).
"his $lo0 o$ language, inhabited by the ghostly
$igure o$ Patric. D. ;ha.espeare, is centri$ugal in direction, and is the precise opposite o$
0hat has been -alori7ed in the na%e o$ 3;a/on ;ha.espeare).
"his $urther co%plicates
postcolonial notions o$ a si%ple binary oppositional discourse bet0een coloniser and
colonised. +$ ;ha.espeare, as a supposed -ehicle o$ ideological colonial hege%ony is
no0 being used to deconstruct and sha.e lose the %oti-ated connections bet0een English
literature and English i%perial po0er and instead he no0 ser-es as a synecdoche o$ the
e%pire o$ language as opposed to the language o$ e%pire.
"his -ie0 o$ literature as a speci$ic linguistic discourse 0hich deconstructs the
ideological construct o$ language as do%ination, is $urther e/plored in ;tephen Dedalus)s
theory o$ ;ha.espeare, 0here the spectral $igure o$ ;ha.espeare is $oregrounded:
it is the ghost, the .ing, a .ing and no .ing, and the player is ;ha.espeare
0ho has studied <a%let all the years o$ his li$e 0hich 0ere not -anity in
order to play the part o$ the spectre.
+n &oyce)s A Portrait of the Artist as a )oun" *an, and in his other 0or.s, the de$initi-e
synecdoche o$ Englishness, ;ha.espeare, dissol-es into a spectral presence, a process that
has its cul%ination in (inne"ans !a&e. <ere ;ha.espeare $unctions as a database o$ the
language 0hich the &oycean -irus 0ill in$ect and turn $ro% te/t to hyperte/t. Each 0ord
beco%es a point o$ departure $or a linguistic -oyage as signi$ier leads to signi$ier and
%eanings, li.e histories and identities, beco%e plural in a commodious vicus of
recirculation. "his boo. cuts the u%bilical chord bet0een language and nationalistic
insularity by $reeing the +rish reader $ro% the $eelings o$ alienation in English
e/perienced by ;tephen in the $unnelNtundish episode: 3<is language, so $a%iliar, and so
$oreign, 0ill al0ays be $or %e an ac1uired speech.)
<ence, the boo. e%bodies the
$uneral 0a.e o$ a nationalist linguistic ideology, and an a0a.ening to the possibilities o$
language as a gate0ay to pluralis% and heterogeneity: through narration $ro% nation to
internation and thence to international.
+n ter%s o$ the troped na%e o$ ;ha.espeare, there are nu%erous di$$usions o$ this
na%e in (inne"ans !a&e. De see such trans$or%ations as De see such trans$or%ations
as 3;hi.espo0er)>
3bacon or stable hand)>
3Chic.speer) >
3sha.espill and eggs)>
3clasp sha.ers)>
3;ha.e hands)>
3as ;ha.e$or. %ight pitch it)>
3As great ;hapesphere
puns it)>
3the curly bard)>
3;hi-ering Dillia%).
"his is not an e/hausti-e catalogue:
the list goes on, as does the episte%ological $oundation underlying both this list, and that
0ith 0hich 0e began this discussion. "hat episte%ology in-ol-es the troped na%e o$
;ha.espeare, present and not present, ghost and nonghost, English and nonEnglish,
re$ined out o$ e/istence, pairing his $ingernails as he presides o-er the &oycean pro2ect
0hich in-ol-es the sha.ing lose, and sha.ing again o$ essentialist notions o$ the politics
o$ +rish identity.
Perhaps the %ost interesting conclusion that can be dra0n $ro% &oyce)s pro2ect is
that there can really be no si%ple eitherNor choice underlying the postcolonial paradig% i$
that paradig% is to per$or% any sort o$ trans$or%ati-e criti1ue o$ current and past
colonial enterprises. As Ania #oo%ba notes, the 1uestion is no0 being as.ed o$
postcolonial theory as to 0hether, in 3the process o$ e/posing the ideological and
historical $unctioning o$ such binaries, 0e are in danger o$ reproducing the%)I
o$ this eitherNor choice, 0hat is needed is a %ore nuanced $or% o$ interaction bet0een
sel$hood and alterity, bet0een coloni7er and coloni7ed. "his is a $or% o$ criti1ue 0hich
has been ad-ocated by Derrida, 0ho, spea.ing about his early neologis%, di$$Prance,
notes that it is 3neither this nor that> but rather this and that Je.g. the act o$ di$$ering and
o$ de$erringK 0ithout being reducible to a dialectical logic either).
+n ter%s o$ an
in-estigation o$ postcoloniality, one can loo. no $urther than &oyce to proble%ati7e the
episte%ological status o$ the postcolonial 0hile at the sa%e ti%e enhancing the -alidity
o$ postcoloniality as an in$or%ed %ode o$ criti1ue.
;o, to 1uote another 0riter 0ho has ta.en the language o$ e%pire, notably the
earliest poe% in the English canon, %eowulf, and %ade it part o$ the e%pire o$ language,
0riting can co%plicate the si%plistic binary o$ the language o$ the coloniser as opposed
to the language o$ the colonised.
"here is not one ;ha.espeare but rather, as &oyce notes in (inne"ans !a&e 3%yriads o$
dri$ting %inds) J19E.0!K, and these dri$ting %inds, these polyse%ic characters, allo0 $or a
ne0 politics o$ +rish identity, as epito%ised by #eopold *loo%)s assertion o$ +rishness,
&ac1ues Derrida)s deconstruction o$ the certainties o$ identity and ;ea%us <eaney)s
desire to go his o0n 0ay and beco%e, as he puts it in #he Cure at #roy:
Driting about translating %eowulf, <eaney %a.es a speci$ic connection bet0een
his o0n 0or. o$ translation and the episte%ology o$ &a%es &oyce:
My sense o$ the hierarchical distinction that applied bet0een the sounds o$
the sounds o$ #atin and o$ English ob-iously related to the distinction
;tephen Dedalus intuits bet0een the English spo.en by an Englishborn
&esuit and his o0n Dublin, or rather Dru%condra, -ernacular. "he &oyce
passage is pro%pted by ;tephen)s %o%entary $eeling that his o0n speech is
being de%eaned. "he Dean o$ studies is be%used by his use o$ the Dublin
ter% GtundishH instead o$ the ;tandard English G$unnelH, and as $ar as
;tephen is concerned, the be%use%ent do0ngrades not only his speech but
also his nation. <e $elt, &oyce 0rites, N G0ith a s%art o$ de2ection that the
%an to 0ho% he 0as spea.ing 0as a country%an o$ *en &onson. @ My
soul $rets in the shado0 o$ his 0ords.H N At the end o$ &oyce)s no-el,
;tephen Dedalus is GcuredH o$ his G$retH 0hen he loo.s up the 0ord
GtundishH in his dictionary and disco-ers that it is not an +rish
pro-incialis%, as the Dean o$ studies had i%plied, but an English 0ord,
and, as he notes subse1uently in his diary Ggood old blunt English tooH.
Adding, postcolonially ahead o$ his ti%e, GDa%n the dean o$ studies and
his $unnel. Dhat LsicM did he co%e here $or to teach us his o0n language or
to learn it $ro% us. Da%n hi% one 0ay or another.H
"his ca-eat, that language is both si%ilar and di$$erent, Heimlich and $nheimlich, part o$
the sel$, and part o$ the other, is central to the politics o$ 0riting that 0e ha-e traced here
through the 0or. o$ &oyce as he deconstructs the language o$ e%pire 0ith the e%pire o$
Derrida, too, is part o$ such a pro2ect. ;uch notions o$ displace%ent and
e%igration also $igure in Derrida)s notion o$ sel$hood. <e, too, could be seen as a type o$
the colonised sub2ect, li-ing as he did in Algeria, but spea.ing French, and, as the
$ollo0ing passage 0ill indicate, this constitutes a $urther connection bet0een the thought
o$ both o$ these 0riters. +n Points, Derrida spea.s o$ si%ilar notions o$ being pulled in
t0o directions, na%ely those o$ place and those o$ culture. Dhile li-ing in the %idst o$
an Arabic culture, Derrida 0as raised in a %onolingual JFrenchK milieu. <ence, French
0as his only language. <o0e-er, in the 3culture o$ the French in Algeria and in the
&e0ish co%%unity o$ the French in Algeria) he points out that 3France 0as not Algeria@
the authority o$ the French language 0as else0here.) <e goes on:
And in a certain %anner, con$usedly, 0e learned it. + learned it as the
language o$ the other=e-en though + could only re$er to one language as
being %ine, you seeO And this is 0hy + say that it is not a 1uestion o$
language, but o$ culture, literature, history, history o$ French literature,
0hat + 0as learning at school. + 0as totally i%%ersed, + had no other
re$erence, + had no other culture, but at the sa%e ti%e + sensed clearly that
all o$ this ca%e $ro% a history and a %ilieu that 0ere not in a si%ple and
pri%iti-e 0ay %ine.
"he si%ilarity 0ith <eaney)s earlier points about being part o$ a culture and yet not part
o$ it, are %ar.ed. Derrida)s notions o$ diff+rance, and his brea.ing do0n o$ see%ing
unities and totalities, has %uch in co%%on 0ith <eaney)s -ie0 o$ poetry as the
articulation o$ di$$erent $orces 0ithin so%e $or% o$ structure 0hich can re-eal %ore
aspects o$ the sel$ to the sel$. +n the passage 2ust cited, Derrida tells o$ ho0, despite
spea.ing French, and being i%%ersed in French literature and culture, 3the French%an o$
France 0as an other).
Much o$ his 0riting stresses this $eeling o$ being at ho%e, and
yet not at ho%e, in French culture. +n #he 0ther Headin", he spea.s o$ hi%sel$ as
so%eone 3not 1uite European by birth) 0ho no0 considers hi%sel$ to be 3a sort o$ o-er
acculturated, o-ercoloni7ed European hybrid).
<e sees his cultural identity as 3not
only European, it is not identical to itsel$).
And it is this notion o$ an identity that is
plural, spectral and $loating that is the connecting thread bet0een the thought o$ the
0riters e/a%ined here = &oyce, Derrida and brie$ly <eaney = and the contested discourse
that is postcolonialis%. "hey all de%onstrate that there is another choice apart $ro% the
binary o$ spea.ing the language o$ the coloniser or espousing a nati-ist position. +nstead,
the choice is there to appropriate the language and use it to create alternati-e notions o$
identity that are not ideologically structured as hege%onic
&oyce and <eaney ha-e both de%onstrated the decentring and disrupti-e po0er o$
language and sy%bols to disrupt and dislocate $i/ed i%ages o$ identity and o$ ho%e. +n
co%%on 0ith the 0ritings o$ Derrida, these 0riters ha-e trans$or%ed notions o$ identity
and language = they ha-e %ade the language o$ e%pire subser-ient to the e%pire o$
language, and gestured to0ards alternate +relands, 0here plurality and di$$erence are no
longer e/cluded $ro% the centre. As <eaney has resonantly put it, spea.ing o$ ;tephen
Dedalus and his o0n linguistic discussion 0ith the Dean o$ ;tudies:
*y $inding that his Dublin -ernacular is related to the old English base,
;tephen disco-ers that his o0n linguistic rights to English are, as it 0ere,
prenatal. <e %ay not be a true born English %an, but he is the ne0born
English spea.er. And at this %o%ent, he is also born as a 0riter, liberated
$ro% sub2ectpeople status, $reed o$ the language 1uestion to beco%e part o$
the language issue. <e realises that his -ernacular possessions are buried
treasures, that his o0n 0ordhoard is the artist e1ui-alent o$ a gold hoard.
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