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A CHILD IN LONDON by Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)

- Author: Dylan Thomas
- Title: “A refusal to mourn the dead, by fire, of a child in London”.
o A declaration of intention: the title announces what the poem will do, although then
it ends up just the opposite.
o “, by fire,”: stresses that this is a sacrificial death.
- Author´s nationality: a welsh poet (from Wales), born in the city of Swansea (bombed as
well during the Biltz –World War II). He lived in London, the city which most
dramatically suffered the consequences of these bombings.
- Historical context: Published in 1945 in a journal, towards the end of World War II. A
girl died during the Biltz in London inspired him to write this poem.
- Literary context: Thomas´s work is developed in modernism, a literary movement
developed during the first half of the 20th century, characterized by formal
experimentation. It is the movement that most directly reflects the effects of the two
great world wars.

1) GENRE: it belongs to the genre of poetry, more specifically lyrical poetry and Elegy

- Written in first person
- We could identify it with the voice of the author
- It expresses a pacifist ideology


- “FATHERING”: metaphor and personification. Creating (=fathering) is becoming the father of
a child. Masculine metaphor which contrasts the figure of the mother (last stanza)
- “THE SEA TUMBLING IN HARNESS”: sea= violent horse; harness= to keep it under control
- Metaphors with Judeo-Christian Biblical connotations suggesting peaceful and protected
o “THE ROUND ZION OF THE WATER BEAD”: a metaphor inside a metaphor⇒ water
drop=water bead (bubble, drop...)=the city of Zion
- “THE LAST VALLEY OF SACKCLOTH”: suggesting the Biblical phrase “valley of tears”
- “MY SALT SEED”: combines the two central events to the poem SALT=DEATH (mourning) –
SEED=REBIRTH (engendering)


- “NOR BLASPHEME DOWN THE STATIONS OF THE BREATH”: metaphorical allusion to the
journey towards death Jesus. In non-religious terms =journey of life, first station of breath
being birth.
- “A GRAVE TRUTH”= ironically used
- “the dark veins of her mother”= reference to mother earth

- “THE SHADOW OF A SOUND” (sound + sight)

4) IMAGERY (the use of language to represent ideas, feelings, objects...):
- “BIRD, BEAST AND FLOWERS”: it could represent various forms of life.

- Poem arranged in STANZAS and LINE-BREAKS (break and divide the text into different lines)
- It follows the REGULAR STANZAIC FORM= 4 stanzas of 6 lines each
- RHYME SCHEME: regular “abcabc”
- ALLITERATION: “mankind making”; “bird beast”, “last light”, “sow my salt seed”
o Traditional English rhythms:
 Long verses: 4 beats (stressed syllables)
 Short verses (verses 2 and 5): 3 beats
o Variation in the length of the lines (from 5 syllables: “beard beast and flowers” to 11
“the majesty and burning of the child´s death”

- First sentence covers 1st, 2nd and the first line of the 3rd stanza= a syntactically complex TIME
AGENT (main verb in the 20th line= “Shall I let pry”)
- Intentional breaking of the first sentence into 3 stanzas: function of breaking down of the
language in correspondence with its subject matter (decomposition; the end of the world)
o “... the round /Zion...”
o “... to mourn / the majesty and burning of the child´s death”
- GERUNDS around the first stanza (making, breaking, tumbling....)= suggests action in
- The recurrence of the CONJUNCTION “and”(6 times within the first 13 lines)

o “FATHERING”: creating is becoming the father of a child
o Her “MOTHER”: the earth
- PARADOX: refuses to mourn but ends up mourning

8) THEME: the death of a little girl as a result of a German Bomb during the Biltz in London
in 1940-1941 and the rebirth.


- Rhythm and syntax that recall the solemn style of a preacher and the Biblical quality of some
- The form reflects the speaker´s confusion, shock and expresses the contradiction between
intending not mourn and ending up doing so

Post-structuralism does not take into account the author´s intentions (so avoid biographical
circumstances, supposed intentions, etc. )

PS Looks for DISUNITY, rejects fixed meanings: dissolve the meanings, deconstructing it, reading
the poem against itself, in 3 stages:

Read against itself: going against the grain of the poem.


“After the first death there is no other”: if there is a first, there must be a 2nd, 3rd...

Juxtaposition of “never” and “until”, it will never happen but it will happen at a given moment

“the still hour (...) tumbling” still -lack of movement/ tumble -a violent continuous movement.

“the majesty and burning”: conflicting images.


“tell with silence”

Those internal contradictions= examples of language´s unreliability and slipperiness

PS reverses the polarity of common BINARY OPPOSITIONS1 (like male and female, day and
night, light and dark... ) so that the second term is privileged and regarded as the more desirable:

- “light” -“darkness”: “darkness” as engendering life (rather than “light”), as a moment of
realization that will spring awareness.
- “life” and “death”

Those paradoxes = show that language does not reflect our world but constitutes a world of its
own, a kind of parallel universe or virtual reality.

A more overall view of the poem (beyond individual phrases):

DISCONTINUITIES; SHIFTS and BREAKS in the continuity of the poem (in focus, in time, in
tone, in point of view, pace, attitude, vocabulary, grammar) that show paradox and
contradictions on a large scale.

1st stanza= an impersonal phrase, which contrasts with the use of “I” in the 2nd stanza.

BINARY OPPOSITION: The principle of contrast between two mutually exclusive terms; each term is
dependent on the other to constitute itself mutually exclusive terms (on/off, up/down, left/right). The study of
binary opposition is one of the key of post-structuralism.

So we are not given a single context to contextualize the death of the child= difficult to understand OMMISIONS: he does not tell why he refuses to mourn.The first two stanzas refer to geological ages and the “end of the world”: the last light breaks. why his intention of not doing so is then carried out THE LINGUISTIC STAGE Moments when language as a medium of communication is called into a question (unreliability of language) The whole poem does what it says it will not do: says he will not “murder/the mankind of her going with a grave truth”= condemns all the accepted ways of speaking about this event. the sea finally becomes still. the cycle which produces “Bird beast and flowers” comes to an end as “all humbling darkness” descends. “The majesty and burning of the child´s death” The final stanza = historical progression of the history of London. but it is not followed by silence Contradiction between intention and performance =a kind of paradox involving the whole text. 4 . But the third stanza talks about the present –the recent death of the child. as witnessed by the unmourning water/of the riding Thames.

it shapes it= how we see is what we see. -Scientific outlook: method. a more reliable view of things. it “constructed” subject: the individual = a product of movement) believes that we can thereby (this way) attain social and linguistic forces. Nietzsche: “there are no facts. Post-Structuralism= the consequences of this belief are: . Uncertainty: no access to any fixed landmark (reference point) beyond linguistic processing ⇒ not standard (norm. system and reason to establish reliable truths. but it is a “dissolved” or aims of each from habitual modes of perception. urgent and euphoric tone. only interpretations”. human being is not (fundamental categorising the reality and incite to escape an independent entity. This lack of intellectual reference points=the DECENTRED UNIVERSE. regarding any confidence in the scientific method as naive (ignorant. . we cannot know where we are= all the concepts that defined the centre (and the margins) have been deconstructed. -Scepticism. 5 . 2. PROJECT It questions our way of structuring and It distrusts the notion of reason. model) to measure anything. STRUCTURALISM POST-STRUCTURALISM ORIGINS -From linguistic (objective knowledge can -From philosophy (difficulty of achieving secure be established) knowledge about things. not an essence at all. STYLE -Neutral and anonymous style (typical of -Titles and/or central lines often containing puns scientific writing) (word-play) and allusions ATTITUDE TO -No access to the reality other than through -We are not fully in control of the language: meanings LANGUAGE the language are fluid. contaminated by their opponents (we cannot define night without reference to day) or they are interfered by their own history. -We need to use language to think and -Words do not have pure meaning. subject to constant “slippage”. simple) TONE AND -Its writing: abstraction and generalisation -Its writing: more emotive. CRITICAL AND LITERARY THEORY: POST-STRUCTURALISM AND DECONSTRUCTION THEORETICAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN STRUCTURALISM AND POST- STRUCTURALISM Structuralism= language does not reflect the world: rather. they are perceive with.

20th century= this centre destroyed because of historical events. The independence of the literary text: the work is not determined by intention. the existence of a centre or a norm in all things was taken for granted= “man” was the measure of all other things (white Western norms of dress. . . but a disciplined identification and dismantling of the sources of textual power) Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) (philosopher): His lecture (discourse) “Structure. . The resulting universe= there are no fixed points= we live in a “decentred” or relativistic universe. Sign and Play in the Discourse of the Human Science” = the starting point of PS: . A centre against which deviations= identified as “Other” and marginal. This decentre universe of free play is liberating (as Barthes in “the Death of the Author” celebrates the demise (death) of the author as ushering in an era of joyous freedom) He published 3 books in the following years... Rather. intellectual outlook. The death of the author= the birth of the reader. Previously. methodological and technical 2) “The Pleasure of the Text” (1973): a series of random comments on narrative. arranged alphabetically (emphasising its randomness) Between them. “Of Grammatology” . which constitutes a radical break from past ways of thought= the “decentring” of our intellectual universe. . scientific discoveries. by the language itself) This early PS phase = the endless free play of meanings and the escape from all forms of authority.. or context.) . intellectual or artistic revolutions. The Death of the Author” (1968) = the hinge (bisagra) round which he turns from structuralism to post-structuralism: . He sees in modern times a particular intellectual “event”. it is free by its nature of all such control. behaviour. Later= a shift to a more disciplined and austere textual republicanism suggested by Barbara Johnson (deconstruction is not an abandonment of all restraint (control). So he moved from seeing the text as something produced by the author to see the text as something produced by the reader (in a way. “Writing and Difference” 6 . Two figures associated with this emergence: Ronald Barthes: He moved from a Structuralist phase to a PS phase as it can be seen by comparing two different accounts of the nature of the narrative: 1) The Structural Analysis of Narrative (1966): detailed. confirming his prominence (importance): . “Speech and Phenomena” .. .POST-STRUCTURALISM –LIFE ON A DECENTRED PLANET PS emerged in France in the late 1960s.

So we may not be expressing ourselves when writing. to show the disunity which underlies its -looks for parallels. tense. breaks.. He uses them by only letting himself. viewpoint.He argues the concept of the “supplement” (replacement). .All philosophical rather than literary topics.“there is nothing outside the text” . Reading and interpretation are not reproducing what the writer meant. but . . Question of Method”. . it must produce the text (there is nothing behind it to reconstruct). echoes. His method involves the “deconstructive” reading of selected aspects of other philosophers´ works .The section “The exorbitant. attitude -Reflections/Repetitions -Conflicts -Symmetry -Absences/Omission -Contrast -Linguistic quirks -Patterns -Aporia Effect: to show textual unity and Effect: to show textual disunity coherence 7 . after a fashion and up to a point. STRUCTURALISM AND POST-STRUCTURALISM – SOME PRACTICAL DIFFERENCES STRUCTURALISM POST-STRUCTURALISM -shows the unity under apparent -oppositional reading to unmask internal contradictions or disunity. -looks for gaps. means towards this end. and if we all inherit the language as a ready-made (pre-cooked) system. time. inconsistencies in the text. Instead. The deconstructive reading of literary texts= makes them emblems of the decentred universe (texts previously regarded as unified artistic artefacts are shown to be fragmented. Of Grammatology) . to show a unity within -they often fix on a detail which looks incidental (for ex. What is the nature of this “standing in” (replacing) if the writer is inscribed in a determined textual system. in the sense that language replaces the reality.” (Derrida. and life his discourse by definition cannot dominate absolutely. but merely some aspects of the language: “The writer writes in a language and in a logic whose proper system. a metaphor) the text.. laws. fissures and discontinuities of all kinds. apparent unity. be governed by the system. and centre-less) Of Grammatology= a key text in PS: . self-divided. reflections. Reading= deconstructive rather than reconstructive. as if the text knows what it and then use it as the key of the whole text. Deconstructive methods borrowed by literary critics and used in the reading of literary works. The structuralist seeks: The post-structuralist seeks: -Parallels/Echoes -Contradictions/Paradoxes -Balances -Shifts/Breaks in: tone. so that everything is read wants to do and has directed all its through it. on interpreting Rousseau´s “Essay on the origin of languages”= calls into question his own method of interpreting this text and the nature of interpretation. person.

and designates a knot (nudo) in the text which cannot be solved because what is said is self-contradictory. Pointing to BREAKS. The term APORIA= popular in deconstructive criticism. Expressing CONTRADICTIONS or PARADOXES may involve showing that the feelings professed (declared) in a poem can be at odds (in conflict) with those expressed.  So APORIA= a knot which resists disentanglement such as contradictions. which undermine secure meanings. becoming them crucial to the overall meaning of the text. This text sometimes uses “I” and sometimes “he” for the man lost overboard. . GAPS. 2) At a deeper level= Cowper´s own fears and isolation. or silenced. nothing deciphered (decoded)”. in order to show that the text is characterized by disunity rather than unity. The “LINGUISTIC QUIRKS” which seem relevant include several kinds of linguistic oddity (peculiarity). They look for inconsistencies and fissures in a text. They “read the text against itself” looking for hidden meanings considered as the “textual subconscious” which may contradict the surface meaning. point of view. perspective. But elsewhere he implies that they desert him and hurry off to save themselves. paradoxes. Changes in tone. They concentrate on a single passage and analyze it so intensively. The text works at two levels: 1) On the surface=the death of a man on a ship accident. DISCONTINIUITIES= way of implying that the text lacks unity and consistency of purpose. or ignored by the text in its “surface” meaning. 8 . . multiple meanings emerge and it becomes impossible to sustain a single and stable meaning. in their root meanings…) and bring these to the foreground (front).  “The Death of the Author” ⇒“everything must be disentangled (desenredado).These characteristics can be illustrated by the poem “The Castaway” by William Cowper: . 3. These discontinuities are called “fault-lines” (a geological metaphor referring to the breaks in rock formations which give evidence of previous activity and movement). . FISSURES.. refers to the self-contradictory nature of a text:  It is an impasse.. They look for shifts and breaks and see these as evidence of what is repressed (suppressed). 4. The speaker says he does not blame his shipmates for his plight (bad situation): they did all they could to save him. As a result. 2. due to his mental breakdown (depression). 5. . shifts WHAT POST-STRUCTURALIST CRITICS DO: 1. They focus on superficial similarities of the words (in sound.

life. fixed meaning on everything. virtues. “THE “PERSON” OF THE AUTHOR” (line 6) he links the capitalist notion of the individual to the notion of the “individual or person who writes”.We must not give him this authority by trying to ascertain what he meant. To interpret a text through the Author = “to close the writing”. the modern scriptor is also the reader himself. For ordinary culture. ROLAND BARTHES (1915-1968).So is half-way between the text and each individual reader´s particular reading of the text. the father of the book (= his child over whom he holds authority= .1. . The reader interprets the text creatively and this creative reading is far more important than the Author´s intentions and ideas. In which the meaning is represented symbolically... SIGNIFIED: “Every sign (a word). ALLEGORY: “a story.. 3.Is “born simultaneously with the text”. . .. “The death of the Author” (1968) . is solely responsible for the meaning of that literary work . Meaning is liberated only if writing is linked to an “antitheological” practice.. MODERN SCRIPTOR (Barthe´s term): not responsible for a book in the same way as the author . It has two elements: . his ideas. “linguistic activity” and “the essentially verbal condition of literature” over the person of the author. his involves personification= representation of human ideas. must eliminate the Author in order to liberate meaning through the act of reading. Since the text is “played” (as a musical instrument) every time a reader reads and interprets the text. . vices.” and “refuse God”.She wrote the text.SIGNIFIED (what the sound or graphic marc conceptually refers to) . feelings.SIGNIFIER (what you can physically perceive through a sound or a graphic mark) .. picture. THEOLOGICAL. CAPITALIST IDEOLOGY Individualism= a defining feature of capitalism.. . writing must “refuse to fix meaning. his act of reading... ANTI-THEOLOGICAL. play. poem.. the AUTHOR: . experiences.. while MALLARMÉ and VALÉRY (French poets) emphasizes “writing”. the person who produces literary work . CRITICAL AUTHORS 3. : to seek meaning in a text through its author it is like searching for a transcendent being or God who can confer ultimate. TO REFUSE GOD . . Author must “die” in order for the reader to be “born”: the reader must not look for authority in the Author. but does not have authority over it . . = the author. which are no longer relevant or important. his passions). .. . with symbolical human figures carrying symbolical objects that allow to identify their meaning” . He uses terms like AUTHOR-GOD. ORDINARY CULTURE reads and interprets literature through its author (his life.. 9 .

fixed meaning (the theological message of the Author-God for Barthes). Reading can only seek meaning inside a text: “Our reading must remain within the text”. 10 . between what he commands and what he does not command of the patterns of the language he uses” : he is sceptical of the writer´s supposed authorial/ authoritative command (dominio) over what he produces. could have taken place outside of language.2.) Although it is not commentary. Ultimate meaning or meaning which lies beyond the text (transcendental signified) does not exist. Neither can it look for meaning (a referent. “relationship. it cannot transgress the text toward something other than it(self). 3. .. It refers to the concept to which the signifier is related. JACQUES DERRIDA (1930-2004). SIGNIFIER: word ... and encourages a critical reading instead. TRASCENDENTAL SIGNIFIED: . “Of Grammatology” (1967) KEY TERMS: . . (We propose) the absence of the referent or the transcendental signified. (.Derrida is critical of the search for a transcendental signified or supreme meaning. psychological. which perceives the text’s discrepancies and contradictions and from which meanings will emerge... SIGNIFIED: meaning .) outside of writing in general. REFERENT= signified.An ultimate. our reading must be intrinsic and remain within the text”: Reading cannot simply reproduce a text. biographical. He questions the validity of a reading which accepts the writer’s authority over his text and its meaning. There is nothing outside of the text. that is to say. There has never been anything but writing. outside the text.. About WRITING-READING: “Yet if reading must not be content with doubling the text. a signified) which may be historical. unperceived by the writer. toward a referent or a signified outside the text whose content could take place. Only the reader is able to perceive the tension (relationship) between what a writer thinks he can control and what he cannot (what he commands and what he does not command). (.

self irony (to make sure that the text is interpreted as irony): on describing the typewriter “particularly shaped terraces” on which “the welfare of this tiny principality depends” suggest: . Bishop´s welfare: also writing to earn a living So she shows how writing is affected by material and social factors. not stanzas or verses .UNIT 2. Words (left) are familiar objects typically used by a journalist: personifications. person or situation in an unusual way. So she imitates this discourse by using the ventriloquised voice IRONICALLY The reader becomes aware that language can manipulate reality. . It is arranged in paragraphs. metaphors . belief. The journalist´s welfare: to whom earn a living depends on writing .. It has italicised words in the margins DEFAMILIARIZATION: description of familiar objects. The objects evoke landscapes and people of Vietnam during the War VENTRILOQUISED VOICE: imitation of a voice that does not correspond with the ideas. she is critical of the official discourse –ideology about Vietnam War and the media broadcasting them. ANALOGY (similarity) between what a journalist can do with words and what she (a poet) can do with words too: represent reality with false words.. to produce a specific effect= in this case DISTANCE: she does not want to be identified with these ideas. to draw the attention of the reader to language itself. The rice terraces that feed Vietnamese . ALLITERATION: repetition of sounds = making the text more musical ONOMATOPAEYA: imitation of natural sounds using phonemes = sounds related to the elements of the description (Ex. INTRODUCTION TO NEW HISTORICISM LITERARY TEXT: “12 O´Clock News” by Elizabeth Bishop prose poem Published in the collection Geography III in 1976. The paragraphs (right) are metaphorical or figurative descriptions of these objects . The poem looks like a bulletin . METAPOETRY or METADISCOURSE: name elements that make the poem talk about poetry itself and language or discourse about itself. during the Vietnam War By Elizabeth Bishop. American post-World War II poet UNUSUAL FORM: . of the author. Example: self references. sounds imitating sound of a typewriter) 11 .

The eraser anticipates the “erasure” of his life (cyclist) “Alive. The text emphasizes the use of language to distort reality.Ink. Poem inspired by war. black structure” .. The imperialist binary THEM/US + condescending tone of the speaker (“elusive natives”. all dead” . IN CONNECTION WITH CRITICAL THEORY (POST-STRUCTURALISM) . by using a ventriloquised voice (not representing her ideas) .Linked to the poor light (moon light) : absence of illumination: inability to understand .. our opponents" or "the sad corruption of their leaders" = negative view of the natives and the implicit idea of technical. it is dark –speckled”...Eraser = the uniclycle used by the “unicyclist courier” . but a typewriter eraser) .) .bottle: a secret weapon= writing. he would have been. intellectual and moral superiority of the Americans .The brush (brocha) = the “bristling hair of the indigenes” . in a false tone of commiseration. ideology and propaganda 7) TYPEWRITER ERASER – unicycle used by the “unicyclist courier” .The poem is also a secret weapon against that official discourse.” from our superior ventage position”. calcareous and shaly soil”. like papers covered in typed words 5) ENVELOPES – signboards (panel publicitario) “on a truly gigantic scale” suggesting Communist propaganda in North Vietnam 6) INK. oddly shaped. Bishop's purpose= to make us not to identify.) + the visually separate text = poem´s strategy to connect words .The poem ends with an image of death. unreliable journalism ... its consequences ..CONNECTION BETWEEN OBJECTS –PARAGRAPHS BY USING VISUAL PARALLELS (but not only): 1) GOOSNECK LAMP – “The full moon” and the light shed by both = poor light (Shed: to shed light physically / to clarify) 2) TYPEWRITER – “Shaped terraces” (an urban object – a rural and timeless activity) 3) PILE OF MSS (manuscripts) – “White. BINARY OPPOSITIONS overturned by the connections (words.“appears to be”: hesitant expression = unreliability of the description (is not a dead body.BOTTLE – the “mysterious.paragraphs .. deducing. conflict .. message: war kills. like the image of paper piled 4) TYPED SHEETS (hojas) – “field.” 8) ASHTRAY (full of cigarettes) – the “nest of soldiers” lying “heaped together” and “in hideously contorted positions.The voice.The verbs point to the fact that reality is being distorted by words (the reporter is guessing.. 12 .Butts (colillas) = death bodies ⇒ PERSONIFICATION . those ideas. but to reject. puts the blame (of their death) on the "childishness and the hopeless impracticality of this inscrutable people... Shaly: consolidated mud.paragraphs) . Shape that suggests division.

The text and co-text are seen as expressions of the same historical “moment” and interpreted accordingly. Greenblatt= it involves “an intensified willingness to read all of the textual traces (rastros) of the past with the attention traditionally conferred (otorgado) only on literary texts”. literary and non-literary texts are given equal weight and constantly inform or interrogate each other. and begins with an anecdote: a powerful and dramatic opening that often cite date and place. NH is a method based on the parallel reading of literary and non-literary texts.CRITICAL AND LITERARY THEORY: NEW HISTORICISM AND CULTURAL MATERIALISM NEW HISTORICISM (NH) NH= a term coined by the American Stephen Greenblatt. so they are called “co-text” rather than “context”. 13 . It refuses to privilege the literary text: instead of a “literary” foreground and a historical “background”. Louis Montrose= it is a combined interest in “the textuality of history and the historicity of texts”. These historical document are not subordinated as context. and have the force of eyewitness account. usually of the same historical period. but are analysed in their own right (by itself). Paradox = it is an approach to literature in which there is no privileging of the literary. The typical NH essay avoids making an introduction based on previous interpretations about the play in question. evoking the quality of lived experience rather than “history”. His book “Renaissance Self-Fashioning: From More to Shakespeare” (1980) is considered the beginning of NH But there were some tendencies before.

-Hierarchical separation between the literary text (object of value) and the -Defines itself against Tillyard´s books. historical background (less worth: merely the setting) . Plays”. -The objection that the chosen document may not be relevant for the play is disarmed since the aim is not to represent the past as it really was.. Historicism: Tillyard´s “The Elizabethan World -Historical events as such (como tal) are lost. A text is thrice-processed: 1) ideology of its own time 2) ideology of our time 3) distorting web of language ⇒Whatever is represented in a text is thereby REMADE.The influence of deconstruction: It accepts Derrida´s there is nothing reflected in Shakespeare's outside the text ⇒everything about the past is only accessible plays= the practice of close through texts. as text.). since the events de) conservative mental and attitudes of the past now exist solely as writing. 14 . deity (God).“Reading literature within the archival continuum” summarises this method= it is a historicist rather than a historical movement= -Representative of Old interested in history as recorded in written documents. so the real living Picture” and individual (individuo vivo) is substituted for the literary text which has “Shakespeare´s History come down to us. A new entity is formed as the play or poem under discussion is juxtaposed with a chosen document. reading and analysis of “patterns of imagery”.. attitudes (to society.NEW HISTORICISM and OLD HISTORICISM – SOME DIFFERENCES: NEW HISTORICISM OLD HISTORICISM -Equal weighting (importance) to literary and non-literary texts. which symbolize the Elizabethan outlook . but to present a new reality by re-situating it. These books described the set of (serie -The word of the past replaces the world of the pass.

accepting all forms of difference and “deviance” (desviación)). but the whole 'mental set' and ideology that encloses the thinking of all members of a given society. This state maintains its surveillance by the power of its “discursive practices” rather than by force “Discourse” is not just a way of speaking or writing. so that the state is seen as a MONOLITHIC STRUCTURE and change becomes almost impossible. prisons. 15 . So this is a true “words on the page” in which context is dispensed with (got rid of) Method not greatly valued by historians (as the interpretative weight placed on a single document is great) ADVANTADGES AND DISADVANTADGES OF NEW HISTORICISM 1) Although founded on post-structuralist thinking. Documents are not usually offered entire: an extract is intensively examined (contextualisation is minimal). This notion of the state as all- powerful and all-seeing steams from (derives from) the post-structuralist Michael Foucault (cultural historian). Less distinction between “repressive structures” and “ideological structures” than Althusser (Marxist philosopher) . the medical profession and legislation about sexuality as the institutions which enable this “thought control” maintained. 2) Fascinating material= it is wholly distinctive in the context of literary studies Not citing previous discussions of the literary work results in tidy. whose image of the state is that of “panoptic” (all-seeing)2.NEW HISTORICISM AND FOUCAULT: NH is anti-establishment: it is on the side of liberal ideas (personal freedom. 2 The Panopticon was a desing for a circular prison whose cells could be surveyed by a single warder (guarda) positioned at the centre of the circle. It despairs of the survival of people in the face of the repressive state. in the literary-critical manner. clear and stark (escueto) essays. To NH the extent of this “thought control” implicates that “deviant” thinking may become literally “unthinkable”. Little attention is paid to previous writings about the same text. since the interpretation rests in an empirical foundation which is openly available for scrutiny (close examination). it is written in a far more accessible way (avoiding dense style and vocabulary). Foucault: . It is not singular or MONOLITIC as there are a multiplicity of discourses. its conclusions are easy to challenge. Looks at state punishment. of non-literary text. 3) The political edge of NH is always sharp (agudo) but less polemic and more willing to allow the historical evidence its own voice than “straight” Marxist criticism. Its data and draws. NH represents a significant extension of literary studies (despite the word “historicism”): it involves intensive “close reading”.

of aspects of the post-structuralist outlook. and on the process of colonisation. 2) They try thereby to “defamiliarise” the canonical literary text. 3) They focus attention (within both texts and co-texts) on issues of state power and how it is maintained. detaching it from the accumulated weight of previous literary scholarship and seeing it as if new. with its accompanying “mind-set” 4) They make use. in doing so. and Foucault's idea of social structures as determined by dominant “discursive practices” 16 . reading the former (literary text) in the light of the latter (non-literary text). on patriarchal structures and their perpetuation. especially Derrida's notion that every facet of reality is textualised.WHAT NEW HISTORICISTS DO: 1) They juxtapose literary and non-literary texts.

4): the historian bestows (give) a particular significance upon certain historical events and then matches them up with a precise type of plot.. SATIRE: it exposes the failings of individuals. recounted by a narrator to a narratee. 17 .A telling of some true or fictitious event or connected sequence of events. represented). 3): organized into a plot.It should be distinguished from descriptions of qualities. and also from dramatic enactments of events [. and frequency . “The Historical Text as Literary Artifact” (1978) DEFINITIONS: . .CRITICAL AUTHORS: HAYDEN WHITE. . duration. institutions. states. . romantic”). VERBAL FICTIONS (paragraph 1): a construct which is made of words and based on invention rather than reality. ROMANCE: a fictional story in verse or prose that relates improbable adventures of idealized characters in some remote enchanted setting. Happy ending for the leading characters. their narrative value is potential and neutral.A set of events (the story) recounted in a process of narration (or discourse). or societies to ridicule and scorn (reject). COMEDY: a play (or other literary composition) written chiefly to amuse its audience by appealing to a sense of superiority over the characters depicted (described. . 7): adapting the facts to a particular story form.Story: the full sequence of events as we assume them to have occurred in their likely order. comic. the protagonist. . . Before that. rather than tragedy. EMPLOTED (par. TRAGEDY: a serious play (or a novel) representing the disastrous downfall of a central character. TAILORING (par. In the modern distinction between story and PLOT: .. VALUE-NEUTRAL (par. This is what is involved when we make fiction. FICTION MAKING (par. . or a tendency in fiction opposite to realism. 2): he says that historical events acquire narrative value only after the historian organizes them into a specific plot type (as “a story that is tragic. . STORY: a narrative or tale recounting a series of events. NARRATIVE: . he says.. . EPIC: long narrative poem celebrating the great deeds (hazañas) of one or more heroes TERMS AND EXPRESSIONS: .. .]. .normally closer to the representation of everyday life.Plot: a particular selection and (re-)ordening of these. and explore common human failings rather than tragedy´s disastrous crimes. . or situations.

” this simply means that the historian has so described the events as to remind us of that form of fiction which we associate with the concept “tragic” (par. That identification adopts the name of a particular narrative genre such as “tragedy” (or comedy. agreed) meanings (par.. epic.) The older distinction between fiction and history. in which fiction is conceived as the representation of the imaginable and history as the representation of the actual. fiction) with how a historian identifies certain historical events. When a given concourse of events is emplotted as a “tragedy. 8). Historical narratives do not only arrange past events in a particular way. history is “like” fiction. but also metaphorical statements which suggest a relation of similitude between such events and processes and the story types that we conventionally use to endow (do tar d e) the events of our lives with culturally sanctioned (approved. must give place to the recognition that we can only know the actual by contrasting it with or likening it to the imaginable (par. according to certain fiction- making conventions. We can use deconstructive or poststructuralist terms to explain his methodology.WHITE´S STATEMENTS AND THEIR MEANING: [H]istorical narratives are not only models of past events and processes. 6).by analogy. 10). He associates literary or narrative terms (emplotted.. He challenges standard or established binaries such as history/fiction and actual/imaginable to argue that the actual is “like” the imaginable. tragedy.. These story models are meaningful to us in culturally accepted ways. 18 . they are also metaphors which propose a similarity between those events and certain story models..

Richard II. 5): . New historicism is self- interrogating and it interrogates others. “Introduction to The Power of Forms in the English Renaissance” (1988). […] [but] rather the story’s full situation – the genre it is thought to embody. However. defeat) of the legitimate king as “sacrilegious”.. It is this interpretative discrepancy Greenblatt notes and wishes to analyse. are not determined only by the text of the ‘story’ but its ‘full situation’ (which includes its genre. 6): New Historicism undermines fixity in critical and literary practice. he encourages an investigation into the belief system underpinning (supporting) Richard II and also that of John Dover Wilson’s interpretation of Richard II. 19 . “MAINSTREAM LITERARY HISTORY” (Greemblant) =OLD HISTORICISM (Barry) The text contains some words and phrases associated with this concept (par.STEPHEN GREENBLATT. identical [with] the entire literate class . monological . the audience’s thoughts and expectations. a single political vision . Greenblatt argues that the meanings (which are not fixed but ‘shifting’) of Shakespeare’s play.. earlier historicism . the imaginings of its audience – that governs its shifting meanings. dominant historical scholarship . Clearly it is not the text alone […] that bears the full significance of Shakespeare’s play. the circumstances of its performance. internally coherent and consistent . the conditions of when it was performed. a stable point of reference WHAT THE “NEW HISTORICISM” DO (par.) “DISCREPANCY” (paragraph 4) refers to: The critic John Dover Wilson (1881-1969) interpreted Richard II as expressing loyalty to the monarchy and portrays (represent) the overthrow (removal. Queen Elizabeth I’s anxiety over the play’s possible message led her to identify with the deposed (removed) king of Shakespeare’s play and to claim that it had been performed “40tie times in open streets”. the status of historical fact .

. when women still were regarded as a legal property of their husbands. manners. SOME POINTS: . INTRODUCTION TO FEMINISM AND GENDER 1. Setting: o Time: 1899. folklore. and it sparked off the downturn of Chopin´s career as a writer.the New Woman was a hopelessly idealistic creature attempting to reverse accepted gender roles by taking the sexual initiative with men. riding bicycles. American writer. speech. Anonymous narrator. and other qualities of a particular regional community. She belongs to the literary period of modernism. Author: Kate Chopin.. the beginning of Industrial Revolution and Feminist Movement o Place: Grand Isle (a popular summer vacation spot for wealthy Creoles from New Orleans). Themes: patriarchy. desires. Symbols: bird (freedom). is regarded as a classic of American literature. Genre: novel. seems to align with Chopin herself . . Local Color writing A kind of fiction that came to prominence in the USA in the late 19th century. It was widely criticised.. usually in humorous short stories.. sea 20 .) younger woman much discussed in the British press in the 1890s as the focus for public debates about marriage and women's rights.. “The Awakening” transcends the regionalist label because of its universal themes and its poetic prose style.. a type of self-assertive (confident and expression of one self´s view. . She came to prominence at the end of the century with her short stories. women´s independence. Since the late 1960. . and New Orleans. was published in 1899. . smoking cigarettes. tied to a drunken husband. Missouri.UNIT 3. desire and sexuality . Point of view: narrated in 3rd person but the narrator often shows her sympathy for Edna. born in St Louis.. a staple (essential) of literature and women´s studies university courses. marriage. poetic prose style. and was devoted to capturing the unique customs. New Woman writing A body of fiction and drama concerning the 'New Woman'. Local Color . Although Chopin´s short fiction belongs to the realm of local color. many about Louisiana life.. She was admired in her lifetime for her 'charming' depictions (pictures) of 'local colour' Is the story of a woman's sense of oppression in conventional marriage and her burning desire (not uncomplicatedly fulfilled) for liberty. motherhood. self-assertiveness. LITERARY TEXT: THE AWAKENING by Kate Chopin CONTEXT: “The Awakening”. New Woman Writing. In literary works she is more often a tragic victim of marriage laws.

vision. spiritual and romantic bonding. Pontellier: emphasis on his vision and glasses. CH. The “parrot” talking in French symbolizes: . not belonging to the Creole community. 21 . it could represent Edna herself. CH.2: description of Edna Her eyes (in contrast to the description of her husband´s gaze in previous chapter)=the importance of gaze. Through her power of “seeing” as a metaphor for “awakening” she reaches a new level of consciousness and self. anticipating her inner alienation as if her understanding of her awakening paralleled learning a new language no one understood . although they are very different . the power of male gaze.6: Edna´s relations with . inspired by the sea and nature =described as a release from a kind of “oppression” CH. the summer resort (centro turístico) at the coast of New Orleans.ANALYSIS: Part 1: chapters 1-16 SETTING: Set at Grand Isle. the heroine of the novel: a process of INNER VISION through existential solitude and communion with nature that will give way to the rest of the events in the second part of the story. the way masculine vision (symbolizing patriarchal society’s vision) will define and exclude parts of Edna’s identity. Edna’s painting and her feeling out of place with certain Creole cultural behaviours. Adele Ratignolle based on female bonding. Edna’s crying = the first sign of her soul’s discontent with her female situation. Robert Lebrun based on sensual. Crying in the middle of the night. the bicultural atmosphere of Creoles (French-American) .3: Quarrel between Edna and her husband = shows his attitude towards her role as wife and mother.1: Social atmosphere and exoticism of Grand Isle is described. a bilingual situation could represent cultural exile or alienation Description of Mr. The PROCESS OF “AWAKENING” TO SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS. SENSUALITY AND SEXUALITY of Edna Pontellier. above all in relation to intimacy and the way they express affection as Catholics. the way to perceive the world and the inner self for Edna throughout the book. Edna and Robert are introduced: coming walking from the beach under a big white sunshade. Edna comes from Mississippi. Exuberant description of nature and the presence of the sea for the first time CH.

The first sign of awakening in Edna= following her instincts, swimming with Robert

Symbolic description of nature and the sea: the harmony Edna is acquiring in relation with her
natural surroundings and the sea is represented in the narrative voice that for the first time becomes
poetic, musical, organic, placing the reader in an emphatic position in relation to Edna. Relevant

“In short, Mrs. Pontellier was beginning to realize her position in the universe as a human
being, and to recognize her relations as an individual to the world within and about her. ...But
the beginning of things, of a world especially, is necessarily vague, tangled, chaotic, and
exceedingly disturbing... The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering,
clamouring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude; to lose
itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of
the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace.” (p. 57)


Female bonding between Edna and Adele at the beach: sensuous description of their clothes, the
position sitting together, the touch of their hands, the complicity and intimacy represented by the
narrator, they are sitting facing the sea, that space of liberty that provides freedom of thought.

Edna describes a vision of her childhood: walking through the tall grass meadow (prado) feeling free
and escaping from mass (a vision repeated at the end of the book, a journey the reader has to her
psyche that can give us clues at a symbolic level to the workings of her souls).

Parallelism between the symbols of the meadow of her childhood and the sea at Grand Isle; about
the relation between the walking child opening her way through the tall grass and Edna learning to
swim in the sea, and how meadow and sea represent self-assertive environments against the
constriction of patriarchal society (as a child symbolized by mass and family, at present represented
at the cottages where she becomes wife and mother).

Her belief in romantic love and romance as an ideal that has shaped and held her soul and
personality until finding her husband, which was her guide towards a more realistic way of living.
Romance is a part of Edna’s belief system that will be awakened this summer, as recovering a part
that was hidden or repressed in her.

CH.10: the collective night swim. Edna felt moved deeply by Mademoiselle Reisz’s music as a
spiritual exercise that brought her alert and put her in contact with her inner self and nature. Edna
has been trying to learn to swim the whole summer.

As the last stage of her “awakening” process Edna finds herself able to swim alone at the sea that
night. The description of that night by the narrator is symbolic and full of magic. It is interesting that
it is a collective swim, they are all there, as representing society, but Edna’s “transformation” or
“metamorphosis” that occurs at the moment she is able to swim without Robert or her husband’s
help is revelatory: it is a solitary act that represents the strength of her female soul finding her
freedom against societal restrictions and expectations. She turns around and faces the horizon,
moving ahead and away from them, however, as a child that has just discovered how to walk alone
she feels afraid of the possibilities of freedom and goes back to her husband.

The night walk towards the cottages with Robert reveals not only their complicity and intimacy but
how they both understand the almost magical moment of what is happening to both of them, and

how he understands the importance of Edna’s awakening—she is not alone. The narrator= an
atmosphere of spirituality, magical and symbolic nature that is shared by both characters.

CH. 12-13: Edna and Robert go by boat to a mass at Cheniere Caminada, an adjacent island= the
first action and decision Edna takes after “awakening” to her true self, her inner self-consciousness,
she went through as a metamorphosis the night before at the sea.

She is in connection with her wishes and independent woman that decides before
everyone gets up she is going to call Robert to go together to Cheniere Caminada. She is in control of
her life and decisions.

The symbolic weight of all the events: her headache at mass could symbolize her spiritual rejection of
male authority through church; her sleep at Madam Antoine’s cot has a fairy-tale sensual
atmosphere: the white bedroom, her loosened clothes and hair in bed—they are like rituals towards
a rebirth, symbolized by the bath after she wakes up, as a baptism welcoming her new soul and self.
She is in total contact now with her sensual and spiritual self, she eats what and when she wishes,
she leaves with Robert when she wishes, she is freed from children and family.

CH.16: end of the summer and the first section of the book.

Robert is leaving... first signs of depression in Edna.

Relevant conversation between Adele and Edna to understand what will happen later on. By now
Adele represents the dutiful mother and wife, the kind of conventional woman that is happy with the
role society has imposed on her. Edna is treated as a contrasting model of femininity to that of
Adele’s, above all in relation to maternity. In this chapter there is a recollection of a conversation
between the two in which Edna outlines her attitude toward motherhood within her new
understanding of herself. “Edna had once told Madame Ratignolle that she would never sacrifice
herself for her children, or for any one. Then had followed a rather heated argument the two
women did not appear to understand each other or to be talking the same language. Edna tried to
appease her friend, to explain: “I would give up the unessential I would give my money, I would
give my life for my children but I wouldn’t give myself. I can’t make it more clear it’s only
something which I am beginning to comprehend, which is revealing itself to me.”

PART II: Chapters 17-39
- Set at New Orleans, in Mr. and Mrs. Pontellier’s residence.
- It describes how Edna’s life starts changing due to her understanding of her new self and her
new awakened soul and how it crashes with society’s expectations.
- This new consciousness of her independence leads her to take vital decisions, among which
is the decision to live alone. These chapters describe the development of her new life until
her decision in the last chapter.

CH.17: Description of the family house at Esplanade Street in New Orleans.

- Description of Mr. Pontellier at the house, emphasizing his possessions and controlling role
within the family home.
- Edna dares to change her daily routing by going out of the house and not attending the
visitors. When her husband asks her in surprise, she says she did it because she felt like going
out. We see a trace of liberty at this action.


- There is a symbolic crashing of the wedding ring at her room when she is alone and looks
for solace looking through the window at the night.

CH. 18: Edna visits Adele Ratignolle’s family.

- Last paragraph (“Edna felt depressed rather than soothed after leaving them”) is revealing of
the power of her ability to see things differently.
- She feels pity for Adele’s “domestic harmony” and her inability to feel “life’s delirium”. She
starts realizing that family life does not suit her soul.

CH. 19:

Edna’s husband starts worrying about her mental health

He is more than anything angry at his wife’s decision to neglect her wifely duties.

We are told by the narrator about Edna’s mood swings.

She also decides to devote herself to painting as her own personal medium for self-expression, as a
way of taking care of her soul’s needs.

CH.21: Edna visits Mademoiselle Reisz in the city.

Her relationship with the pianist will become central in the development of the new Edna.

How differently Edna was attached to Adele at Grand Isle and now she is to older Ms. Reisz, they
represent different female models, both provide Edna with female bonding and friendship.

Ms. Reisz tells she had received a letter from Robert from Mexico= Robert enters the plot and Edna’s
life again.

Edna tells her she has decided to become an artist, Ms. Reisz tells her she needs “a courageous soul.
The soul that dares and defies”

CH.22-23: Edna’s husband goes to visit Doctor Mandelet to talk about her wife.

His point of view represents society’s discomfort and rejection in relation to a change of roles of
women as dutiful wives and mothers.

Society’s rejection at Edna’s awakening is represented through the eyes of her husband, his decision
to visit the doctor represents how the society of that time considered women’s attempts to stand
out of their assigned roles as signs of madness.

The doctor (through the narrative voice): a sensitive man that is able to see beyond the surface,
understanding Edna’s awakening in relation to sexual and spiritual freedom—an opposite perception
to the husbands.

Emphasis on gaze and speech, in fact “waking up in the sun” involves the act of opening one’s eyes to
the light (p. 123).

The doctor observed his hostess attentively and noted a subtle change which had transformed her
from the listless (indiferente) woman into a palpitating with the forces of life. Her speech was warm and
energetic. There was no repression in her glance or gesture. She reminded him of some beautiful,
sleek animal waking up in the sun.

Ms. Robert tells her about the reason of his leaving at Grand Isle (to Mexico).151). Edna expresses her new self to him by asserting that she does not belong to her husband anymore. Comparisons with birds will be recurrent as a symbol of freedom and idealism. Ms. Relate it to another bird symbol in the last chapter. or the night swim.” This idea is in fact too ahead of her time even for Robert. in that way she says goodbye to them.37: why the author chooses this event (Adele’s childbirth) as a breaking point for Edna and Robert’s story. the one that separates them? When she is back he is not there for never to return. who does not seem to understand and be able to assimilate Edna’s new idea of independence. Reisz sees this is a big step outside society’s approval and compares Edna to a bird. Chopin marks Edna’s awakening process and steps through symbolic rituals full of sensual elements. to see and to apprehend the deeper undercurrents of life” (p. They get together at Edna’s new place and they declare their love to each other. 25 .26-27: Edna matures her decision of moving to live alone at a small house (pigeon house) she has seen for rent. 30: Edna’s “Ritual dinner” of emancipation. She says: “The bird that would soar above the level plain of tradition and prejudice must have strong wings. they meet at Ms. Robert appears. he was in love with her but she belonged to her husband. Reisz makes Edna confess her love for Robert.CH. She visits her children= she gets in touch with her maternity side again but the weight of the taste of her freedom is heavier in the plot. The gathering (meeting) at the table= symbols of royalty and ceremony in the luxurious ornaments.36: the climax of Edna and Robert’s love story. It is a sad spectacle to see the weaklings bruised. the more rejection she finds from society. Reisz.31-33: Edna grows in independence and inner strength and self-assertion:“She began to look with her own eyes. A special ritual moment like the baptism (bautismo) and ritual sleep at Cheniere Caminada. CH. CH. The stronger she feels inside. Edna leaves Robert to go to assist her friend. I give myself where I choose. CH. Her 29th birthday= symbolic age for literary heroines in search of independence. This is an important and revolutionary assertion from a woman at that time: “I am no longer one of Mr. CH. Pontellier’s possessions to dispose of or not. It is the ritual of her maturity as independent woman. She has an income from an inheritance= she will be economically independent First. through the figures of her husband and Adele who considers her acts irresponsible and childish. fluttering back to earth”. exhausted. she tells Ms. This climax is broken by the news of Adele’s difficult childbirth. Reisz: we know about this important event in the plot through the conversation Edna and the pianist have in this chapter.

She becomes naked in front of the sea= a symbolic image of true self and body sensuality. the place where she started her process of awakening. 39: Edna returns to Grand Ile. opening its eyes in a familiar world that it had never known.” Edna’s fear into the water is balanced through the image she recollects of her childhood’s meadow at Mississippi. body and soul” The symbolism of the whole passage. and the ambiguity of the end: is she committing suicide? Is this a tragic or a happy and liberating death? Does she actually die? 26 . The narrative voice reasons to us her thoughts. clamoring …”). Even Adele tells Edna at the end of the chapter to “think of the children”. an image of freedom and rebellion against society’s norms.This event is a kind of regression in the plot towards the reality of women at the time (family roles and maternity). the sea that represented freedom and that stood as an important symbol of awakening in the first part (repeating the words from chapter 6: “the voice of the sea is seductive. how she concludes that to live for her children is not what she wants. Robert’s disapproval). that she expects now something precise from life Through a poetic language the narrative voice describes the sensuality that springs from the sea. CH. A thought of her husband and children: “they were part of her life. a female self rid of society’s pressures and expectations. to hang on her responsibility as mother and wife. Adele’s birthday breaks the atmosphere of romance and idealization lived through the previous chapter. We find the symbol of a bird with broken wing (remember bird as symbol of freedom) This falling bird represents also Edna’s failing at facing society’s disapproval (also. But they need not have thought that they could possess her. the use of circular images that takes us back to different important moments in the story. whispering. never ceasing. standing in communion with the immensity and freedom of the sea: “she felt like some new-born creature.

in 19th century fiction=very few women work for a living (only by urgent necessity). “feminist”: a political position . . “feminine”: a set of culturally defined characteristics. since it constituted acceptable models of “feminine” with legitimate goals and aspirations. constructed by male writers.. The need of construct a new cannon of women´s writing (by rewriting the history of novel and poetry) 27 . The Second sex (1949) –Simone de Beauvoir Also some male contributions: .Olive Schreiner . Much of the force of feminism lies in the distinction between female and feminine (Moi) The representation of women in literature= one of the most important forms of “socialization”.. which will decide her social position and will determine her happiness and fulfilment (or the lack of these) in life.. For ex. A Room of One´s Own (1929) –Virginia Woolf . More eclectic: making use of other approaches (Marxism. Women and Labour (1911). It was combative and polemical In 1980 feminist criticism underwent 3 changes: . FEMINIST CRITICISM FEMINISM AND FEMINIST CRITICISM The woman´s movement of 1960s = a renewal of an old tradition of thought and actions with its books (which diagnosed the problem of inequality and proposed solutions): . A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) – Mary Wollstonecraft (discussing male writers like Milton. The Subjection of Women (1869). Structuralism. It switched its focus from attacking male versions of the world to exploring the nature of the female world and outlook.) .John Stuart Mill . The focus of interest is on the heroine´s choice of marriage partner. it was vital to combat them and question their authority. The major effort went into exposing the mechanism of patriarchy (the cultural “mind-set” (=disposición) in men and women which perpetuated sexual inequality) . 2. The Origin of the Family (1884) – Friedrich Engel The “women´s movement” was literary from the start and realised the significance of the images of women promulgated by literature. Pope and Rousseau) . Feminist criticism in the 1970s: . Critical attention to influential images of women. “female”: a matter of biology . . linguistics. Feminist criticism= important women´s movement´s way of influencing everyday attitudes “conditioning” and “socialization” underpins a crucial set of distinctions (Toril Moi): .

Elaine Showalter described this change as a shift from “androtexts” (books by men) to “gynotexts” (books by women). the psychodynamics of female creativity. She also detects in the history of women´s writing: . a female phase (1920 onwards (=en adelante)): looked particularly at female writing and experience. and structures of writing by women. and the evolution of laws of a female literary tradition”. a feminist phase (1880-1920): radical and often separatist positions . enabling early and cruder examples of feminist criticism to be given their rightful credit and acknowledgment But feminist criticism has been remarkable since 1970s for the wide range of positions existing within it. the need of a terminology to obtain a theoretical respectability . a feminine phase (1840-1880): women writers imitated dominant male artistic norms and aesthetic standards . The need (in intellectual disciplines) to establish a sense of progress. The reasons for this “phasing”: . genres. Its subjects are: “the history. She coined the term “gynocritics” (=the study of “gynotexts): . the trajectory of the individual or collective female career. themes. styles. Debates and disagreements have centred on three areas: 1) The role of theory 2) The nature of language 3) The value or otherwise (=or not value) of psychoanalysis 28 . A wide and varied field .

-More theoretical.) in understanding the literary text. writing about -Its major representatives: Elaine Showalter. motif (pattern). women´s lives and experience (which can be measured and evaluated against reality) Focault and Derrida. Sexual/Textual Politics (Toril Moi). as its starting point the insights of major post- -conventions of literary realism. Luce Irigaray -Most of them are American (rather than Anglo). aligned with cultural materialism or Marxism (it cannot points) be placed into a non theoretical category) But its existence has been hidden by some popular books summarising FM (Feminist Literary Studies: An Introduction (Ruthven). FEMINIST CRITICISM AND THE ROLE OF THEORY The major division within FM: disagreements about the amount and type of theory that featured in it ANGLO-AMERICANS FRENCH -More sceptical about recent critical theory –more cautious in using it -Much of their work based on Post- structuralist and psychoanalytic criticism -Interested in traditional concepts like theme.. expressing a personal experience. psychology -Its definitive works appeared in the late 1970s -Its major figures: Julia Kristeva. Sandra Gilbert and Susan language. especially Lucan. memories. characterization. Patricia Stubbs. although they use historical data and non-literary material (diaries. representation and Gubar. -major business of FC: close reading and explication of individual literary text -The literary text is not a representation of reality. -They deal with concerns other than literature. Literature Teaching Politics Collective (Catherine Belsey) -its key works appeared in the mid-1980 and remains active and influential 29 . -Particularly concerned with ENGLISH FEMINIST CRITICISM is different (from American): it tends to be language and psychology (see next “socialist feminist”. or the reproduction of a personal voice -Much in common with the the liberal humanist approach to literature. literature as a series of representations of structuralists. Hélène Cixous.. Rachel Brownstain. -Groups and authors that shows the importance of this movement: Marxist Feminist Literature Collective (Cora Kaplan).

there might be a form of language which is free from this trend. Language use is gendered = when a woman turns to (recurre a) a novel she finds that there is “no common sentence ready for her use” . ecriture féminine is transgressing... The characteristics of a “woman´s sentence=the clauses are linked in looser (free) sentences. facilitating the free play of meanings within the framework of loosened grammatical structures. 30 . she “devised a perfectly natural. . not making its qualities explicit but characterising it by carefully balanced and patterned rhetorical sequences= unsuited for a woman´s use. French theorists posited (proposed) the existence of an écriture feminine. shapely sentence proper for her use” (but not describing it) . with a long-standing tradition of debate: Virginia Woolf in A Room of One´s Own: . Language and Sexuality: if normative language can be seen as male-oriented. To Hélène Cixous (The Laugh of the Medusa). invent the language that will wreck partitions. . women writers trying to use it fare badly (les va mal) Jane Austen rejected it.. of “a man´s sentence”... rather than carefully balanced and patterned.” Then.. codes) and able to emit a pure essence of the feminine.FEMINIST CRITICISM AND LANGUAGE A fundamental issue= if it is a form of language inherently feminine or not. .. This kind of writing exists in a realm (area) beyond logic: “this practice can never be theorized. The user of such language is seen as a perennial (eternal) freedom-fighter in an anarchic realm of perpetual opposition: “peripheral figures that no authority can ever subjugate” . rule-transcending by nature. “women must write through their bodies. which makes difficult to square with a femininity as a social construct. regulations and codes. as in male prose. classes and rhetoric. But this view of Cixous raises many problems: its realm of the body is seen as somehow immune (impregnable) to social and gender conditioning (regulations. or even oriented towards female. Is uniquely the product of female physiology: . it will take place in areas other than those subordinated to pshilosophico- theoretical domination”. So generally the female writer suffers the handicap of having to use a medium (prose writing) which is essentially a male instrument Dale Spenser = thesis that the language is “masculine” in Man Made Language (1981): language is not a neutral medium: its role as the instrument through which patriarchy finds expression Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar Sexual Linguistic: Gender.. Ex. Therefore. not a given entity which is somehow just mysteriously “there”..

For others rational= men / emotive. o It suggests a much looser. o She sees the semiotic as the language of poetry as opposed to prose and she examines specific works (although this concept is associated with female. female sexuality (heterosexuality in general) is not there naturally from the start. pre-Oedipal stage. trans-rational and privatised arena= women FEMINIST CRITICISM AND PSYCHOANALYSIS Kate Millet´s Sexual Politics (1969): she condemns Freud as a source of patriarchal attitudes against which feminists must fight = great influence within feminism But important books defends Freud: Juliet Michell´s Psychoanalysis and Feminism (1974)= uses Millet´s own concepts to defend Freud. Symbolic = the surface (established structures. one which increases the available range of possibilities. Child lives in an Edenlike realm. and the Lacanian re-use of these notions: . but is formed by early experiences (he shows this process).) o The self is fixed and unified . its value= the imagining of alternatives to the world which we have now. The self is not distinguished from others. rather one becomes a woman”.To Julia Kristeva in The System and the Speaking Subject distinguishes two aspects of the language (which are always present in a given sample): . SYMBOLIC: The semiotic is inherently subversive and threatens the SYMBOLIC order (conventions..) For some feminist this visionary “semiotic” female world and language is a vital theatre of possibilities..)... 31 . especially the distinction between sex (biology) and gender (a construct. . condensation”. SEMIOTIC: o Is not characterized by logic and order. learned not natural): a crucial distinction to feminism. Mitchell defends Freud= according to him. her major examples are male writers) The model is that of the unconscious and the conscious. slippage.The post- structuralist view of language (a feature of deconstruction process: to see the unconscious part of the text disrupting the “surface” or “conscious” meaning. Jackes Lacan distinguished the realms of: . cultural values. repression and control (the family... SYMBOLIC: o Associated with authority. order. Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex (1949): “One is not born a woman. a realm of floating meanings and slippage. fathers. the Saussurean “network of differences”. Semiotic = the linguistic unconscious. IMAGINARY: of the young child at the pre-linguistic. more randomised way of making connections. free of desire and deprivation. normality. .. intuitive.. not inevitable and unchangeable givens (established facts).. Gender roles must be malleable and changeable. the side stressed by the Structuralists. but by “displacement..

32 . or whether. The British critic Jacqueline Rose in The Haunting of Sylvia Path and along with Juliet Mitchell Feminine Sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the école freudienne (1982) = the argument in favour of Lacan and Freud ⇒again that it shows sexual identity as a “cultural construct” (giving “insider” accounts of how this construction takes place) The defence of Freud and Lacan has been more favourably received by French and British feminists than by Americans. 9.. 11. since the fullness of signification which the phallus represents is not attainable by either men or women. from Freud to Lacane= what is implicit in Freud is explicit in Locan´s system. Make clear the ideological base of supposedly “neutral” or “mainstream” literary interpretations. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar = social castration. asking whether there are only “subject positions. 4. WHAT FEMINIST CRITICS DO: 1. 2. or are socially constructed as different.So the notion of penis envy3 shouldn´t be taken as concerning the organ itself. meaning women's lack of social power. Jane Gallop's Feminism and Psychoanalysis (1982) in this line. Examine representations of women in literature by men and women. Revalue women's experience. the experience is central. Rethink the canon (norma). 10. Explore the question of whether there is a female language. Locan´s way of writing embodies the “feminine” or “semiotic” aspect of language. Although men are better advantaged than women in Locan´s writings.. and showing the extent of patriarchy. Question the popular notion of the death of the author. an écriture féminine. Re-read psychoanalysis to further explore the issue of female and male identity. Examine power relations which obtain in texts and in life. aiming at the rediscovery of texts written by women. seeing reading as a political act. Recognise the role of language in making what is social and constructed seem transparent and “natural”. constructed in discourse”. Raise the question of whether men and women are essentially different because of biology. postulated by Freud to account for some aspects of female behaviour (notably the castration complex) but controversial among modern theorists. rather than the “masculine” or “symbolic” aspect. as “lack”. namely (specifically) that the phallus (penis) is not the physical biological object but a symbol of the power which goes with it. 3 Penis envy: Supposed envy of the male's possession of a penis. and whether this is also available to men. as part of “nature”. 3. Challenge representations of women as “Other”. with a view to breaking them down. on the contrary. 7. 5. but that organ as an emblem of social power and its advantages. 6. 8. he also shows men as powerless.

states of mind and any sensory or extra-sensory experience. *allusion: usually an implicit reference. From Chapter 2: “Infection in the Sentence: The Woman Writer and the Anxiety of Authorship4”. example . GILBERT (b.*patriarchal: adjective which describes a system of male authority which oppresses women through its social. much as Oedipus ‘nullified’ his father. paradigm: model. stereotypes: standardised. . may be considered to embody the repressed potential of women. *personae: plural of persona [a Latin loanword]. The author can only counter (oppose) the paternal influence of (male) literary ancestors by aggressively challenging and nullifying them. perhaps to another work of literature or art. political and economic institutions . actions. Image does not necessarily mean ‘a mental picture’. 3. a character in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre (1847). thoughts. 33 . kingly admonitions: stern advice uttered by a male monarch . 1944). In literary and critical jargon. DEFINITIONS: . “ANXIETY OF INFLUENCE”: Bloom: “anxiety of influence” = the (male) writer’s fear that his works are fatally overshadowed – even ‘owned’ in some way– by those of previous (male) authors. simplified and fixed conceptions. It is often a kind of appeal to a reader to share some experience with the writer. attempt the pen: try to write . 1936) and SUSAN GUBAR (b. feelings. Bertha. *imagery: the use of language to represent objects. The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (1979). . From The Madwoman in the Attic. ideas. persona has come to denote the ‘person’ (the ‘I’ of an ‘alter ego’) who speaks in a poem or novel or other form of literature . CRITICAL AUTHORS SANDRA M. Rochester’s first wife. male counterpart: male equivalent or complement . to a person or an event. 4 The “Madwoman in the Attic” is Bertha Mason.

. aggressive. “ANXIETY OF AUTHORSHIP” In response to Bloom’s “anxiety of influence”. What novel do Gilbert and Gubar think is a female version of Bildungsroman?: Wuthering Heights. masculine) precursor. development. According to Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar. *Is the product of women´s fear that they cannot create IN PREVIOUS EXAMS: . Her inability to see herself as a (hostile.): From the Greek mythological character. therefore. and maturing of a young protagonist. women writers: have traditionally been represented as angels or monsters by male writers **Bildungsroman: a type of novel concerned with the education..OEDIPAL (adj. that writing will lead to her isolation or annihilation. 34 . Oedipus. i. leads to a fear that she cannot write. the king of Thebes who married his mother and killed his father. Gilbert and Gubar propose a feminised “anxiety of authorship”: . Gilbert and Gubar describe the literary conflict between a male author and his precursors as an Oedipal struggle in the sense that the male author must “kill his father” in order to survive and become his own person.e. .

Books about gay writers. class. cultural. Lesbian critics argued that feminism assumed the existence of an essential female identity (common to all women) irrespective of differences (of race. an oppositional design upon society. before acquiring disciplinary independence. or sexual orientation) ⇒ Bonnie Zimmerman attacked this essentialism (What has never been: an overview of lesbian feminist criticism) ⇒ the way “perceptual screen of heterosexism” prevented any consideration of lesbian issues The Madwoman in the Attic (by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar) contains only a single passing (transitory) reference of lesbianism. No room for difference (racial. LESBIAN/GAY CRITICISM Lesbian and gay theory: It emerged as a distinct field only by the 1990s. African-American critics claimed that academic feminism reproduced the structures of patriarchal inequality within itself by excluding the voices and experiences of black women. Lesbian feminism (LF): Differences of emphasis between lesbian and gay theory. middle-class. Growing significance and acceptance: . Universalised the experience of white. Classic feminism had marginalised and ignored lesbianism. are not necessarily part of lesbian and gay studies. Social and political aims (like FC). PURPOSE: . LF emerged in the 1980s as an annexe of FC. Its defining feature: making sexual orientation a fundamental category analysis and understanding . 1990: feminism successful and institutionalised ⇒ lesbian studies claimed the radical ground vacated (leaved) by feminism. undergraduate (university student) courses. with a predominance of cultural studies over literary material. and two major strands (aspect) of thinking within lesbian theory: First. resistance of homophobia and hetero-sexism. This academic feminism: . 4. nor are books that are part of this field directed solely at a gay readership or relevant only to gay sexuality. urban heterosexual women. 35 . or by gay critics. It is a multi-disciplinary field. and the ideological and institutional practices of heterosexual privilege. “lesbian and gay studies” sections in bookshops and academic catalogues . or sexual) .

becoming it almost wholly a political act. since it rejects from various form of collusion (connivance) with patriarchal exploitation and instead consists of relationships among women which constitute a form or resistance to. ed. and. and a radical reorganising of. but only in the nineties rejects the essentialism inherited by feminism. to sexual relationships. They are part of the field of “queer theory” or “queer studies” (terms used by gays. 1990 It rejects female separatism and sees an identity of political and social interests with gay men. 36 . implying that women can only achieve integrity through lesbianism. through supportive female friendships. breaks away from feminism and makes new allegiances. For some. . despite its homophobic origins “queer (marica)”). existing forms of social relations. by Adrianne Rich⇒ the notion of LESBIAN CONTINUUM= it designates a wide variety of women behaviour: from informal mutual help networks set up by women within particular professions or institutions. finally.THE WOMAN IDENTIFIED WOMAN (by the Radicalesbian collective. . Lesbianism= the most complete form of feminism . The key question when choosing between these two possible alignments= if it is gender or sexuality the more fundamental aspect in personal identity. accepting “queer theory” perpetuates the patriarchal subservience (sumisión) of women's interests to men's. particularly with gay men rather than with other women. Zimmerman= this notion has the virtue of suggesting interconnections among the various ways in which women bond together. QUEER THEORY 1990s= a second and less essentialist notion of lesbianism emerged It designated as Libertarian Lesbianism by Paulina Palmer. rather than a sexual orientation. but as a construction and as subject to change. These two ideas (“woman identified woman” and “the lesbian continuum”) introduced the notion of choice and allegiance (loyalty) into matters of sex and gender⇒ sexuality is not as something “natural”. Lesbianism= central to feminism. It is also a moral condemnation of female heterosexuality as a betrayal of women´s interests. Conference on “queer theory” at the University of California. Paulina Palmer= it desexualise lesbianism. The essay Compulsory heterosexuality and lesbian existence. Anne Koedt) a crucial essay in the development of LF says: . Result= lesbianism separated from feminism through the eighties.

. Diana Fuss (Inside/outside: lesbian theories. Is not stable. “Self” and “Other” are always implicated in each other. it is difficult to carry out a political campaign on its behalf= there is no identity if identity is changing. OR . a medical-legal term. gay theories): calls into question the stability of the hetero/homo hierarchy . an anti-essentialist. So identity: . Being “in” or “out” is not a simple dichotomy. domesticity without male domination. for straight men a role-model without requiring an exhaustive work of machismo to measure up to its masculinity) Judith Butler: identity categories (gay. All identities are a kind of impersonation (a kind of imitation for which there is no original) It is called into question the distinction between the naturally-given (heterosexuality) and the rejected “Other” (homosexuality). . but the qualities which made his image attractive to women were related to his homosexuality (for straight (conventional) women a place of sexual safety. like Saussurean signifiers [word]. straight) = instruments of regulatory regimes. it can be changed. as the normalising categories of oppressive structures. .. Instead. . showing that the distinction is not absolute and that it is possible to reverse the hierarchy. Eve Kosofsky Segwick (Epistemology of the Closet)= “coming out of the closet” (openly revealing gay/lesbian orientation) is not a single absolute act (gayness may be revealed to family. postmodernist concept of identity= like an amalgam (mixture) of everything which is provisional. . in which the second term is privileged rather than the first one. The pair heterosexual/homosexual is deconstructed like binary oppositions. preceding the invention of the term heterosexual (a consequence of the notion of homosexuality). . without fixed terms. So the concept of homosexuality is part of homophobic discourse. . Richard Meyers (essay about the film star Rock Hudson): he was gay. contingent (subject to change) and improvisatory. rather than a fixed inner essence. Political consequences of this ANTI-ESSENTIALISM: . Thus: . 37 . homosexual) do not designate fixed essences= are simply part of a structure of differences. is not essential. social position and professional roles. Political consequence= if we claim gayness or blackness as a shifting signifier. friends. but not to your insurance company). as the rallying points (puntos de reunion) for contestations against that very oppression”. Such categories (heterosexual. it was a shock. What is identified as the external “Other” is usually part of the self which is rejected and hence projected outwards.Lesbian/gay studies within “queer theory” have drawn on (recurrir a) poststructuralist work of the 1980s. sexual orientation alone does not make a person a complete outsider of all patriarchal or exploitive taint (contamination). Identity = a complex mixture of chosen allegiances.

Foreground (bring to the front line) homosexual aspects of mainstream literature which have previously been glossed over (hidden). not realistic). metaphorical sense of “lesbian/gay” so that it connotes a moment of crossing a boundary. but a part of a complex of other factors. or blurring a set of categories. 6. . Set up an extended. which significantly influenced ideals of masculinity or femininity. Solution= to adopt an approach historically specific: is not the same a novel written by a gay or about gayness in the 1920s as in the 1980s. . 3: critics need to be aware of wider metaphorical extensions of gayness. unchangeable category. comic and parodic fiction. which is necessarily an act of conscious resistance to established norms and boundaries.. Identify and establish a canon of “classic” lesbian/gay writers whose work constitutes a distinct tradition (in the 20th century writers such as Virginia Woolf. for instance. previously neglected (abandoned). . critique will involve showing how this is so.) 2. All such “liminal” (crossing a boundary) moments mirror the moment of self-identification as lesbian or gay. What lesbian/gay critics do: 1. But only writing by or about lesbian/gays is not enough= gayness is not an essential.. as seen in ignoring or denigrating the homosexual aspects of the work of major canonical figures. since it will tend to be romanticised and stand as a textual emblem of resistance and disruption of all kinds. rather than reading same-sex pairings in non-specific ways. 3: the risk that gayness becomes too emblematic (symbolic. 38 . Foreground literary genres. 5. 4. Expose the “homophobia” of mainstream literature and criticism. Also the consequence of devaluating literary realism. The possibilities (Zimmerman) are a text: 1) Which is written by a lesbian/gay 2) Which is written about lesbians/gays 3) That express a lesbian/gay “vision” . Lesbian/gay criticism of the recent “queer theory” tends to favour text and genres which subvert literary realism (like thrillers. Dorothy Richardson. . and sexual fantasy) It tends to be anti-realistic. Identify lesbian/gay episodes in mainstream (normal) work and discuss them as such.Literary-critical consequences of anti-essentialism: the difficulty of deciding what a lesbian/gay text is. as symbolising two aspects of the same character. 3.

HETEROCENTRICITY: the practice of viewing reality from a heterosexual perspective. . . 1986) DEFINITIONS: . it is “the main mechanism underlying and perpetuating male dominance”.DISEMPOWERS: weakens. LESBIAN EXISTENCE and LESBIAN CONTINUUM Lesbian existence = the actual presence of lesbians.AGEISM: stereotyping of and discrimination against people because they are old.MALE RIGHT OF ACCESS: the moral and legal privilege to intervene in all aspects of a woman’s life. From Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence. removes power from – in this case. . . assuming them to be the same as those of gay men. 5. 39 . COMPULSORY HETEROSEXUALITY: This term is closely related to the expression male right of access.WOMAN IDENTIFICATION: to feel identification with women (as opposed to men). CRITICAL AUTHORS ADRIENNE RICH (1929-2012). RICH CRITICIZES THE EQUATING OF “LESBIAN EXISTENCE WITH MALE HOMOSEXUALITY” Because it suppresses female reality once more. women. it erases the specific experiences of lesbians. past and present Lesbian continuum =all experiences shared by women – experiences that strengthen bonds among themselves and against male oppression.ACADEMIC JOURNALS (scientific magazines): learned magazines which publish scholarly articles . “Foreword (preámbulo)” (1980.

racial and identity politics in Black women’s writing . it causes extreme indignation. 40 . stupefy. “overwhelming. “SOME OF THE PRINCIPLES” (par.NUMBING: v.GALLING: if something is galling. “to numb”=to remove all sensation from. submerge utterly. Black male critics. experience. and culture and the brutally complex systems of oppression which shape these [things]” (par. “THIS INVISIBILITY” (par.OVERWHELMING: overpower with emotion. . . galling”– She conveys the ongoing (= continuing) nature of the problem . to paralyze. She feels overpowered by and helpless in the face of the task of breaking the “massive silence” surrounding writing by Black women (note the capitalization of “Black”) . BLACK WOMAN-IDENTIFIED ART: art that focused on.Knowing that this trajectory parallels historically Black male and white female literary traditions .Commitment to exploring the inevitable presence of sexual. inspired by and giving the perspective of Black women. RACIAL POLITICS: The political character of race. bury beneath a huge mass. Black women critics. .Black women authors reveal common literary practices rooted in shared political. based on the unequal power of sexual relations . 3): referring to the “Black women’s existence.The acknowledgement that she can identify a Black female literary trajectory .BARBARA SMITH (b. 1946). 5) a Black feminist critic could use: . numbing. “Toward a Black Feminist Criticism” (1977). OSTENSIBLE (apparent): Ostensible feminists are not real feminists. OBLIVIOUS: ignorant of. white women critics. annoyance. . based on the unequal power of white-black relations PARAGRAPH 1: some groups have traditionally not written about Black lesbian writers: White male critics. irritation. social and economic experiences. 2). blind or insensitive. SEXUAL POLITICS: The political character of sexuality. DEFINITIONS: .

6. and hearing a cry of pain) This identification with other women and her aunt= strong but not comfortable= suggests vertigo. Perfect correspondence between form and content ** Free verse has no regular meter or line length and depends on natural speech rhythms. POEM “IN THE WAITING ROOM” CONTEXT: “In the Waiting Room” was written by Elizabeth Bishop. STRESSES (AND THE FORM OF THE VERSE) On hearing. "MOMENTS OF BEING"= to express these moments when reality seems to be more intense and a kind of revelation takes place in the heightened consciousness of an individual (Virginia Woolf). written in FREE VERSE. which was published in 1976. awareness or “revelation” in the experience of the poetic person in a poem (or a character in a novel). it sounds like a story. an American post World-War II poet. of recognition of her identity and place in the world as a woman. confusion. and the poem expresses her confusion as it does her new-found sense of self. This poem was included in her last book of poetry “Geography III”. Something important has happened to shape her self-awareness. 41 . of explorers Osa and Martin Johnson. INTONATION. It unfolds as the poem progresses. ELIZABETH BISHOP. This experience of the poetic “I” is an “epiphany”⇒ EPIPHANIES: moments of special significance. of bare-breasted African women and their children. It was written in the late 60s a period called “The Movement”. but this awareness is not clear and stable. while she is in the waiting room of a dentist. PAUSES. focused on anti-romanticism and attempted to evoke nostalgia. and is prompted (caused) by certain sensory experiences (looking at photographs (NG) of erupting volcanoes. disorientation and other bodily reactions. a personal anecdote with a special significance to her As if she were confiding in the reader (reader as her confidant) GENRE: a NARRATIVE POEM. SUMMARY Through the poetic “I” (first-person voice) the poem describes a young girl´s moment of awakening. with NO RHYME or FIXED METER OR RHYTHM (the text is a series of four-. three – and even two beat verses of varying length) Not constrained by strict formal rules= not “poem sounding” It sounds like a story told by a friend.

The image in the lines “the inside of a volcano / black. the waiting room. 90-92). We cannot initially say this is the woman and this is the man: both wear masculine attire (clothes). / laced boots. her sense of her own self as an individual). / then it was spilling over / in rivulets of fire” (lines 17-20) A dramatic and a precise image (easy to visualize: an erupting volcano) It has a sexual component: erupting volcanoes are a cliché for sexual passion It is connected to the rest of the poem: the colour black re-appears in 3 more associative contexts: 1) The breasts of African women (“black. which was “bright / and too hot. But memory is unreliable and sometimes we jumble (mix up) different memories together. naked women”. blue-black space” (l. the initial volcano image indicates the speaker´s confusion and the sudden awareness of “who” and “what” she is in relation to the world. We project some of our adult ideas onto our recollections (memories) of our younger selves to construct a better version of ourselves.⇒ as we grow older. we cannot really say it is Elizabeth Bishop herself). and full of ashes. her aunt. Being (the poem) partly about identity. the speaker’s final vision of herself in the waiting room.. It was sliding / beneath a big black wave” (l. 2) As part of the speaker’s sensation of falling off the world “into cold.. 42 . and pith helmets” (lines 21-23) It is part of the sequence of the speaker’s identifying journey. l.COMMENTS: Many references to the “real” world are unreliable: the NG copy does not contain the photographs mentioned. 59) 3) Echoing the initial volcano image.. Narrator= an older speaker telling an experience she had when she was a little girl (the poetic speaker. their names do not help to differentiate man-woman Uncertainty about identity and gender. a woman is masculinized in her attire. The image of the explorers Osa and Martin Johnson “Osa and Martin Johnson/dressed in riding breeches. 28). we reinterpret and understand better experiences from our childhood. Osa and Martin Johnson were active in the 1920s (not in 1918). other people (specially other women) Identity= as terrifyingly unstable= like the lava from an erupting volcano in this confusing feeling of identification (with other women.

or me.. may arouse strong feelings in the young speaker: disgust. l. the family voice I felt in my throat. revulsion. or even the National Geographic and those awful hanging breasts– held us together or made us all just one? (l. 31) evoking the effect of breast-feeding (l. So the speaker imply (insinuate): . constricted (made narrower) by wire (metal strand) (the bound neck suggests restriction of movement. the "horrifying breasts" (l...' the caption (words underneath a photo) said" (l. 26) = suggests “hostility to compulsory heterosexuality”.). 81) – images which do not present motherhood and child-rearing (bringing up) in a positive or traditional light. pain. questioning of traditional women’s roles in general.. later expressed in "you are one of them. or anyone? What similarities– Boots. Images of “Babies with pointed heads” (l. which is the indefectible result of "compulsory heterosexuality" Why should I be my aunt. strangeness that other human groups and their customs cause on the girl is emphasized: identification with them as humans // difference from them. will be eaten) and the women’s necks. Can it be explained in terms of a girl´s awakening sexuality and as a challenge to “compulsory heterosexuality” in terms of Adrienne Rich? Unpleasant and disturbing image= it refers to the name (the euphemism) some tribes used to call dead human bodies that were destined to be eaten in cannibal rituals. 26-31.The image of "A dead man slung (hang) on a pole –'Long pig. fear and terror for. torture. 62-63) = she rejects motherhood. 26) and the “black. The impression. 28-29) = practices related to different standards of beauty in other cultures (which may be shocking from a Western point of view). too?" (l. Images related to maternity and children near the beginning and towards the end of the poem (ll. (no cute images of mothers smiling with babies in arms. 24-25).. hostility towards compulsory heterosexuality and a “male right of access” (in Rich's terms) . The image of the man (dead. / Why should you be one. naked women with necks/wound round and round with wire” (ll. hands. but sth else entirely) 43 . 75-83) She identifies with the black mothers ("What similarities– /[…]/ and those awful hanging breasts– / held us together / or made us all just one?") // she rejects such identification and expresses her desire to be different from them ("Why should I be […]?"). Images of mothers with the stretched necks.

This prompts (causes) the speaker's identification with her aunt (next six lines) and then the uncomfortable. and another" (l. 44 . . 94). / even then I knew she was / a foolish. she passes out (lose consciousness) for a while: “The waiting room was bright and too hot” (l. not "inside the dentist's room"." ⇒ the speaker says that it was herself who uttered the exclamation of pain at seeing the National Geographic pictures. her aunt / herself collapses. 90-01) . rejection of this identification and the need of being different from them (rejection of being a mother. of the traditional role of women) So she feels anxiety.“Suddenly. This intense wave-like sensation could also be interpreted as the speaker's first experience of lesbian desire that results in an intense orgasm (sexual intercourse (relation) = a form of 'being one' or 'being intimately united' with somebody else). / I might have been embarrassed. But the whole interpretation is changed with: "[…] What took me / completely by surprise / was that it was me: / my voice. 36-39) = we think that it is Aunt Consuelo who voices her pain inside the dentist's room. But first verse = "inside". the “round. in my mouth. She loses consciousness: "It was sliding / beneath a big black wave.. Then the speaker's reflection about her Aunt: "I wasn't at all surprised. The text is devised (designed) to provoke the same kind of confusion and surprise in the reader's as the one the speaker felt when hearing herself exclaim "oh!" in a voice that was very similar to that of her aunt (it is not far-fetched (unlikely) for we all have similar voices to our relatives). The speaker is outside the dentist's room (where we are led to think Aunt Consuelo emits her cry of pain) = There is an outside / inside movement characteristic of the entire poem that gives expression to the young speaker’s attempts to understand her growing sense of who she is in relation to her surroundings and the outer world in general (the dentist’s waiting room. anxious identification with other women.. 91-93) ./came an oh! of pain/—Aunt Consuelo’s voice—/not very loud or long” (ll. Then it says it was "–Aunt Consuelo's voice–". turning world”…) The distinction outside / inside. timid woman. grown-up people . panic. identification with her aunt and with other women. Aunt Consuelo. the speaker becomes one with her aunt in an intense experience (an epiphany) that shocked her: . / but wasn't […]". from inside. So the exclamation came from inside her. / another. Then she regains consciousness: "Then I was back in it" (l.

timid woman" indicates that the speaker is older and she is remembering what she felt as a little girl of nearly seven years of age “I was my foolish aunt” (l. 41-42) The stress on "she” implies a differentiation with the speaker (“I am not/a foolish. timid"). typical of a very young person trying to make sense of who she is. It explains her anxious desire not to be like her aunt.In “she was/a foolish. "even THEN I knew she WAS / a foolish. identificatory process. timid woman”) and a criticism of the aunt for accepting her traditional female role (being "foolish. 49): Again. timid woman” (ll. identity= the speaker may fear she will end up like Aunt Consuelo. falling” – suggests a pan (all including). “I – we – were falling. 45 .

rhtml 1. Author: Joseph Conrad . Although he had always considered himself a Written in prose. Author´s nationality: polish. . . It is a modernist text: it challenges many of the conventions of the 19th century realist novel and short story. Conrad worked for the “Societé Anonyme du Haunt-Congo” in 1890 and the witnessed colonialist corruption and exploitation of natives. the difficulty in knowing what he represents in the “elusive (escurridizo) “core” of the novel” 46 . it is a fiction novella (short novel). It is a MODERNIST text: it challenges many of the conventions of the 19th century realist novel and short story. “Heart of Darkness”. In this trip along the Congo River he became a disabused (disillusioned) men (like Marlow) . artificial. and Britain controlled colonies and dependencies all over the planet. FORM AND CONTENT 1) GENRE: . the British Empire was at its peak. the paradoxical nature of the attraction he exerts on Marlow and his being “hollow” (empty inside. . INTRODUCTION TO ETHNIC AND POSTCOLONIAL STUDIES 1. He was born in Poland but in 1886 was granted the British nationality. his symbolism as a character (Kurtz= “short” in German). . Its main feature= experimentation o The use of different narrators (with different points of view) o The use of defamiliarisation in the description and narration and the deferral of meaning of many Marlow´s observations (he describes sth or sb imperfectly and later in the narration it becomes clearer and his opinions about it are expressed) o Symbolic and allegorical style and content o Inexplicable and inexpressible mystery that contributes to the vagueness of the meaning of Marlow´s experience in Africa o The uncertainty about what Kurtz did. insincere).sparknotes. he wrote in English. It is a NOVELLA (= “short story” in Italian) that belongs to the fiction or narrative genres. Historical context: Queen Victoria´s diamond jubilee (bodas de diamante) in 1897: it prompted a general exaltation of the British Empire. the imperial idea and Great Britain´s role as a world power extending civilisation on the colonised territories. In 1902 published in book form as “Heart of Darkness” (presented in episodes) (along with other two short stories) . .UNIT 4. when it was serialised in the Blackwood Magazine. CONTEXT . first published in 1899 as “The Heart of Darkness”.2. He is regarded as one of the greatest novelist in English.1. At the time Heart of Darkness was written. “HEART OF DARKNESS” SUMARY AND ANALYISIS: http://www. LITERARY AUTHORS: JOSEPH CONRAD. Its main feature= EXPERIMENTATION 1.

threatening images.Untrustworthiness of appearances . in order to get rid of the negative karma and liberate himself from the attachment to this world. . “Nigger” became a derogatory noun while “negro” remained neutral. Then. .ANTITHESIS: Thames and the Congo River THEME(s): ... “of colour”= rejected by Civil Right campaigners (struggle for Civil Rights): no longer acceptable: taboo words that must be avoided “Black” is generally accepted as a descriptive adj.3. “nigger”.BINARY OPPOSITION: the Africans are sometimes the only ones described as “aliens” but some other times the “Western” people are the so-called aliens.POETIC SPEAKER/VOICE/PERSONA: .DEFAMILIARIZATION: he uses this in the sense of describing something or someone imperfectly as he did not know but he later sees the light and expresses his opinion .The nature of truth . red-eyed devils”.. . gloomy..Different narrators (with different points of view). “nigger” used in the text are offensive nowadays but were descriptive at that time (as a reference to race).The main theme: the exploitation of Africa and Africans by white colonialism and imperialism. but sometime avoided. “Afro-American”: a politically correct alternative 47 . NOTE The terms “negro”.CONTRASTS: darkness/ illumination.. enlightment ⇒ Marlow wants to show himself as a Buddha in enlighten his friends about the horrors of colonialism in Africa. . lusty.ALLEGORIES and METAPHORS: the book is full of them “these were strong. “negro”. “coloured”. So they do not reflect a racist consideration f Africans.He uses the pronoun “YOU” to refer the group on the boat (including Marlow himself). there is a narrator behind a narrator.) POETIC DEVICES/ FIGURES OF SPEECH .The lack of humanity towards other humans 1. and general corruption of whites by carrying out this exploitation unrestrained by any of the moral and legal limitations established in Europe.) IMAGERY: a constant use of imagery through the book (dark.. . his friends on the Nellie (Thames) as he tells them the narration and the readers (involving them in his thoughts.The moral/spiritual journey of Marlow . along with “coloured. inhumanity. and the degeneration..

animal -UNEARTHY: fantasmal. of a person. “strange”.4. furor -UPROAR: alboroto DESCRIPTION OF THE PLACE AND THE PEOPLE WHO INHABIT IT: A place removed from Western notions of civilisation: is prehistoric and like the night of the first ages. move in a whirl of black limbs and express themselves through an incomprehensible frenzy. 1. The narrator underlines the ALIEN nature of the country and its inhabitants to the eyes of white men (ALIEN meaning “other”. revealing the explorers-exploiters fear and mistrust of the physical and human environment. leg. CURSE: maldecir. -ACCURSED: maldito -A WHIRL: tumult increpar -SUBDUED: sumiso -LIMB: arm. “foreign”). The place is described as accursed and he and the crew feel appalled (shocked) by their surroundings and its inhabitants. The language is overwhelmingly negative. Marlow calls one of them prehistoric man and feels he is about to enter a madhouse. -ANGUISH: angustia (extremidades del cuerpo) sobrenatural -TOIL: hard work... the impossible communication with the Africans is threatening to create a conflict out of fear felt in both sides. COMMENT ON THE FOLLOWING EXTRACT: -FANCY sth: want -YELL: scream -CURSING. A place the reader would not like to visit. The inhabitants seem hardly human or rational beings – they yell. effort -FOLIAGE: leaves. greenery (ramaje) -KINSHIP: family… parentesco -FRENZY: histeria. 48 .

. In the 1st paragraph: a BINARY OPPOSITION between the explorers and the natives (the Other of Europeans) We can invert the relationship: Europeans as the negative Other to Africans (the “invading aliens” who do not belong to Africa) We can break the following part into 3 sections: In previous lines: . the comparison in this part establishes LIKENESS: it emphasises their COMMON HUMANITY and the excitement provoked by accepting it despite cultural differences.IS IT A RACIST TEXT? COMPARISONS. “a black and incomprehensible frenzy”.. But now= no reference to race.. but they are meanings that EUROPEANS CANNOT IDENTIFY because they lack of the necessary knowledge “We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings”: they do not belong there: HERE THE EUROPEANS ARE IDENTIFIED AS THE OTHER... Marlow use “YOU” to refer the group on the boat. Enumeration of the Africans actions= they are possible meanings of their movements. shouts. underline THE DISTANCE. “too far”. “to be subdued”.. including himself. THE DIFFERENCE in cultural evolution However. Africans described as a mass of limbs (not as individuals). In this “you” are also included his friends on the Nellie (Thames) as he is telling them the narration. Africans identified as “The prehistoric man” = linked with the landscape becoming “a prehistoric earth” (pointing to a difference in time and cultural evolution).. 49 .. Discourse of colonialism is present “taking possessions”. BINARY OPPOSITIONS: All the parts of this excerpt= COMPARISON between Europeans and Africans Terms like “remote”.. and also the readers = we are involved in these thoughts and it makes us think about our common humanity with Africans.

he sees the Europeans as Africans probably would: like ghosts. ghosts (their failure of communication. Africans (prehistoric stage) / Europeans (more advanced culturally and materially): here the Africans are not characterised by the negative element of the binary opposition. 1. spirits 2) Europeans shocked sane men watching crazy people. inaction. Racism= essentialist position considering a race essentially inferior than another one.sane): Africans –the negative element. It is the Europeans= they cannot “remember”= their culture works like an impediment to understand the Africans. They seem to be dead. binary oppositions balance each other and show that THE TEXT IS NOT RACIST. as not understanding what they see. COMMENT ON THE FOLLOWING EXTRACT: 50 ..) ⇒these comparisons.In the 2nd section: two comparisons 1) Europeans to phantoms: Marlow changes the point of view. It introduces an ESSENTIAL difference between Africans –Europeans. Binary opposition (Africans- mad/ Europeans.5.. BUT in the last part= difference of historical and cultural evolution (not race).

rusting and decaying equipment. 2nd paragraph: Marlow describes the Africans ⇒ they are dehumanised. “decomposition”. describe) of machinery”= it points to the corruption and chaos of colonialism 1st paragraph: description that underlines the mismanagement of the Company and its irrational actions: not taken care equipment... as if they were animals. weakening) on the Congolense. the absurdity of blasting (blow up) with explosives a cliff that was not an obstacle to the railway line...Descriptions: words like “death”. “futility”. enslaved.. “decay”. The description shows that they are bad treated. to see the phenomenon of colonisation from an unfamiliar point of view. Marlow describes what he sees (not what he feels. They were called criminals. reduced to slavery. The detail of the loincloth (taparrabos) = dehumanises them: “the short ends behind waggled to and fro like tails”. upside down (al revés) railway-truck. = negative picture of the Company´s station “Depiction (depict: represent. which is delayed). This description shows slavery without naming it.”= here he empathizes with the Africans (how all must be incomprehensible to them) and makes the (Western) reader change the point of view= again DEFAMILIARISATION. not Marlow´s racism (he later ironises about colonialism and expresses his reaction: he was appalled-shocked) 51 . Next lines= they are treated unjustly: “but these men could by no stretch of the imagination be called enemies. It shows the effect of colonisation (dehumanisation. “weakness”..

By focusing on the whiteness of his smile and its rascality (maldad). weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly”: a more dangerous “devil” because he worked more subtly and the consequences were really negatives. It is a vice that dominates the whole enterprise of the Company and whose worst example is Kurtz. “These were strong. lusty. the “law” of whites cannot be “outraged”: it is an unjust law.“Outraged (indignado) law”: ironic and sarcastic. 4th paragraph: what this incident meant for Marlow. “the flabby (fat). In our Western imagination devils are linked with “darkness”= this is relevant to the meaning of the whole novella. their efforts. 3th paragraph: Marlow explains his friends how he felt “My idea was to let the chain-gang get out of sight before I climbed the hill. how he connects this with his experience of meeting Kurtz: “How insidious he could be. If Africans couldn´t be identified as enemies. I was only to find out several months later and a thousand miles farther” (the “devil” is the one that “possessed” Kurtz). You know I´m not particularly tender. Their thinness (delgadez). weak-eyed devil of rapacious (greedy=codicioso) and pitiless folly (disparate)”. The “DEVILS”= a way of ALLEGORISING the HUMAN VICES (vicios) of violence. He read his body language and what it means. seemed to take me into partnership in his exalted trust”: “rascally” (=malvado) referring to moral is linked to “white” (grin=teeth): indicating the negative consequences of colonisation. Africans identified as “raw matter” (=material prima) ⇒metaphor. and a glance at his charge. which come to control even mentally strong men. He inverts the common racist observation that blacks all look the same = all the white men look alike. Again it makes the reader change its point of view. greed (gula. but a Western element= inversion related to the darkness: the destructive effects of colonialism. his prudence. pretending. This metaphorical devil is not an African religious element. red-eyed devils that swayed and drove men –men I tell you”: emphasising the power of these devils. rascally grin. as though by a warning”. their “deathlike indifference of unhappy savages”= description that makes us think of ourselves as witnesses. He is afraid of white men. it is a product now and Marlow empathises with the guard (the overseer=supervisor): he understand his fears. identified now with sth devil-like. avaricia). and hot desire. The African guard understands that Marlow is not dangerous “and with a large.” The kind of life he has chosen is a mistake: “such sort of life as I had blundered into”. white. The “devil” was of a different kind: it was “flabby. pretending.. 52 .. Marlow is shocked: “For a moment I stood appalled. Conrad intends to make readers consider different points of view and realise its effects and condemn it. too. difficult breathing. By the end of this excerpt Marlow has shed (abandoned) his detached voice and he condemns the colonial enterprise. Marlow associates whiteness with immorality and makes the African guard (not a Congolense but probably a Zanzibari soldier) somebody who has been corrupted by white colonialism.

AND THUS NEITHER THAT FIREMAN NOR I HAD ANY TIME TO PEER INTO OUR CREEPY THOUGHTS. diminishing the importance of this African native. At the beginning of the text there is a distance between the native and Marlow. 53 ..… AND THREE ORNAMENTAL SCARS ON EACH OF HIS CHEEKS: it is a description which focuses on the native aspects of the African man. .6. .. we have to focus on the aspects that suggest the text is racist or the aspects that suggest just the opposite. THE BOILER SEEMED INDEED TO HAVE A SULKY DEVIL IN IT. Marlow adopts his point of view. like a dog in a circus. so Marlow is assuming the viewpoint of the native. AS SEEING A DOG IN A PARODY OF BREECHES AND A FEATHER HAT: a comparison. AND HE HAD FILED TEETH TOO.. HE OUGHT TO HAVE BEEN CLAPPING HIS HANDS AND STAMPING HIS FEET ON THE BANK: a commentary made by Marlow on Western influences on Africans. . There is an identification between them. treat with an apparent kindness which betrays a feeling of superiority) . This is material to think that there is not racist attitude. he does not know using the steam) . an animal… as a sort of less human figure . . they are exploiting the natives. I had to LOOK AFTER THE SAVAGE: paternalistic figure . IMPROVED specimen (because he can fire up a boiler (he can use Western equipment) . HE WAS USEFUL BECAUSE HE HAD BEEN INSTRUCTED: in that ironic commentary about how he has been instructed there is also a negative commentary on what Westerns are doing in Africa. It seems like Marlow is patronising again. Both are afraid of the boiler (it can explode). At the end there is a closer relationship. on his physical characteristics. 1. There is a common humanity between them. A THRALL (=slave) TO STRANGE WHICHCRAFT: trying to discover how the boiler works. TEXT ANALYISIS (VIDEOCLASS) . They are not really improving anyone. . He is identified as a FINE CHAP: this is ironic and patronising (condescending. A FEW MONTS OF TRAINING (how to use the boiler) HAD DONE FOR THAT REALLY FINE CHAP (guy). their fear. SPECIMEN: as if he was a plant. FULL OF IMPROVING KNOWLEDGE: an ironic commentary (is not really an improving knowledge. .. . a simile = The native is compared to a dog: he looks ridiculous. Marlow changes his outlook at the end of the fragment: BUT THE SANGS WERE THICK. to a Western reader the African seems ridiculous. Depending on which point of view we are asked to adopt. But what follows: INSTEAD OF WHICH HE WAS HARD AT WORK. Both are linked by those creepy thoughts. THE WATER WAS TREACHEROUS AND SHALLOW. THE BOILER SEEMED INDEED TO HAVE A SULKY DEVIL IN IT.

. Eurocentric norms and practices. 54 . the Orient features in the Western mind “as a sort of surrogate (substitute) and underground self”. Yeats adopts an ethnocentric (or Eurocentric) perspective= East as an exotic “Other” According to E. For centuries the European colonising power have devaluated the nation´s past . decadence. Said. 2. Then. Their emotions determined by racial considerations rather than by aspects of individual circumstances POSTCOLONIAL READING Reading with the perspective of “Orientalism” we see how Yeats in his two “Byzantium” poems (1929. Edward Said (“Orientalism”. “Orientalism”= a particular way of identifying the East as “Other” and inferior to the West. which means: o East= the projection of aspects of themselves which Westerns do not acknowledge (admit) such as cruelty. 1932) provides an image of Istanbul identified with sensuality and exotic mysticism. the mystical and the seductive o Also seen as homogenous: people as anonymous masses rather than individuals. fury. the East is seen as the exotic. rejecting the modern and the contemporary. nationalistic Ireland (as postcolonial writers). which is tainted (contaminated) with the colonial status of their countries. 1978): (book that inaugurated postcolonial criticism) . related to Fanon´s idea of the need to reclaim the past. implies the need to serve a humble apprenticeship (humilde aprendizaje). A specific exposé of the Eurocentric universalism takes for granted the superiority of what is European or Western and the inferiority of what is not .) rather than by conscious decisions. CRITICAL AND LITERARY THEORY: POSTCOLONIAL CRITICISM BACKGROUND It emerged as a distinct category only in the 1990s It rejected the universalism. which discreetly promotes to a elevated status works that follow white. Yeats expresses the desire to regain contact with an earlier. that they should learn their craft (destreza). Postcolonial writers create a precolonial version of their own nation. and all the rest are marginalised Frantz Fanon (“The Wretched of the Earth”): . the second is to erode the colonialist ideology by which that past have been devaluated.. mythical. For Yeats (as often with the postcolonial writer) there is an uneasy (uncomfortable) attitude to the colonial language: his injunction (order) to Irish poets.. laziness. o Paradoxically. first characteristic of postcolonial criticism: an awareness of representations of the non- European as exotic or immoral “Other”.. their actions determined by instinctive emotions (terror. First step is to reclaim one´s own past.

55 . The surface of the writing is difficult and the route through to any consequent political action is necessarily indirect. Then. or a mere licensee (2nd phase). Homi Bhabha. or unstable is a third characteristic of the postcolonial approach. 3 PHASES (or stages) OF POSTCOLONIAL LITERATURE: 1) The ADOPT phase of colonial literature: an unquestioning acceptance of the authority of European models (especially in the novel) and the ambition of writing masterpieces in this tradition. 2) The ADAPT phase: it aims to adapt the European form to African subject matter. 3) The ADEPT phase: a declaration of cultural independence whereby African writers remake the form to their own specification. This stress on “cross-cultural” interactions is a fourth characteristic of post-colonialist criticism. contradictions within the text. fluid identity: the mind-set (way of thinking) of post-structuralism and deconstruction (showing unstable. or hybrid. The writer is an independent “adept” in the form. language itself is a second area of concern in postcolonial criticism. literature as a site on which ideological struggles are acted out –represented-) is suited (appropriate) to expressing the numerous contradictions and allegiances (loyalties) of which the postcolonial writer is constantly aware. rather than as working primarily within European genres like the novel and merely adding to them a degree of exotic Africanisation. Postcolonial writers with this post-structuralist perspective: Henry Louis Gates Jr. Post-structuralism is attracted by this notion of double. assuming that it has universal validity. supplemented (complemented) with European-derived influences. without reference to European norms. divided. A complex Derridean-Foucauldian notion of textuality and fields of discourse . The writer adopt the form as it stands. not a humble apprentice (1st phase). Some postcolonial writers have concluded that the colonisers´ language is permanently tainted.The linguistic deference (submission) amounts to (sirve para) a sense that the linguistic furniture belongs to somebody else. In their works: . Yets. This emphasis on identity as doubled. thus assuming partial rights of intervention in the genre. The double or hybrid identity is precisely what the postcolonial situation brings into being (creates): shift in the 1980s and 1990s ⇒ postcolonial writers using primarily African or Asian forms. being a member of the Protestant ruling class in Ireland. Gayatri Spivak. fluid nature of personal and gender identity. and therefore shouldn´t be moved around without permission. and that to write in it involves a crucial acquiescence (consent) in colonial structures. has a double identity (as coloniser and colonised): the recognition of such double identities is one of the strengths of the postcolonialist view.

and that of the colonised. not just applicable to postcolonial literatures. POSTCOLONIAL CRITICISM CLOSELY PARALLELS THE DEVELOPMENTAL STAGES OF FEMINIST CRITICISM: 1) The earliest phase (before it was known as such): took as its main subject matter white representations of colonial countries and criticised these for their limitations and their bias (prejudices): they would discuss the representation of Africa in “H. through a colonial school system. he accepts some premises of liberal humanism and has more “up-front” political affiliation (identification with Palestinian Arab cause): his work is reminiscent of (bringing to mind) the Anglo-American feminist criticism (more political and accessible). the situation whereby individuals and groups belong simultaneously to more than one culture (for ex. Of darkness” ⇒ corresponds to the earliest phase of FC: subject matter the representation of women by male novelists. that is. celebration and exploration of diversity. plurality and perceived “Otherness” are seen as sources of energy and potential change. whereby states of marginality. and difference become central. Pioneering work: “the empire writes black” ⇒ corresponds to the “gynotext” phase of FC: a turn towards the exploration of female experiences and identities in books by women. 56 . especially its general inability to empathise across boundaries of cultural and ethnic difference. Hélène Cixous) Edwar Said is less overtly theoretical. 4) They celebrate hybridity and “cultural polyvalency”.This kind of poscolonial criticism corresponds to the theoreticised “French” feminist criticism (Julia Kristeva. the discussion of Jane Austen´s Mansfield Park) 3) They foreground question of cultural difference and diversity and examine their treatment in relevant literary works. They examine the representation of other cultures in literature as a way of achieving this end. 2) Second phase: a turn towards explorations of themselves and their society by postcolonial writers. which accepts a good deal of liberal humanism and seems to lend itself to political engagement) WHAT POSTCOLONIAL CRITICS DO: 1) They reject the claims to universalism made on behalf of canonical Western literature and seek to show its limitations of outlook. hybridity. that of the coloniser. THE SPLIT (fracture) IN FM BETWEEN “THEORETICAL” AND “EMPIRICAL” VERSIONS IS ALSO PARALLELED BY POSTCOLONIAL CRITICISM: a split between variants influenced by deconstruction and post-structuralism (as the work of Homi Bhabha) and works written in a more accessible way (like Said´s. 2) They show how such literature is often evasively and crucially silent on matters concerned with colonisation and imperialism (for ex. through local and oral traditions) 5) They develop a perspective.

remote. the importance of London and the Thames. since there is no third or “alternative” narrator (or frame of reference) that would enable the reader to judge the characters. There is an attempt to create a cordon sanitaire (“Sanitary barrier” in French) between Conrad and his two narrators= a failure. ACHEBE´S COUNTERARGUMENT TO THE OPINION OF THE SCOTTISH STUEDENT: he argues that what is wrong with Conrad´s portrayal is that it is not a portrayal of Africans at all. and this contrasts with Marlow´s observation about the Thames in the times of the Romans and then his story about his experiences on the Congo.) PARAGRAPH 14: the relation of the author (Conrad) to his fictional narrators: Conrad tries to in insulate (aislar) himself from “the moral universe” of his novel by creating not one but two narrators. culture. The first narrator is just ingenuous and unreliable as to his ideas. His demeanour (behaviour) shows that his travels in the Far East previous to his experience in Africa (page 6) eventually changed his mentality.. the function of the first narrator is double: to offer the reader a description of Marlow from the point of view of one of the characters outside his story. 3....) African continent to emphasise its own “state of grace” (its positive qualities: civilisation.1. 57 . and the real important narrator is Marlow. The first anonymous narrator is the one who believes quite innocently in the civilising power of Empire (pages 4-5). His ideas and perspective are different from those to be expected from a European and these have to do with illumination and enlightenment as opposed to the darkness and the whole meaning and purpose of the novella. Thus. power. *NOTE: Achebe´s opinion is debatable: the description of the first anonymous narrator of Marlow´s looking like Buddha does introduce an alternative frame of reference that shows that Marlow is not the typical Western imperialist man. “AN IMAGE OF AFRICA: RACISM IN CONRAD´S HEART OF DARKNESS” by CHINUA ACHEBE (1930-2013) PARAGRAPH 2: “That Western desire and need” refers to the need of West to use the (negative. so that the readers have an idea of what Marlow represents. CRITICAL AUTHORS AND TEXTS 3. and then that of offering a foil to Marlow´s ideas. but a place “which eliminates the African as human factor”. whose ideas are plausibly closer to Conrad´s.

a) The use of IMAGERY NARRATORS that do not represent the author 58 . “H. TELEOLOGICAL: that something (a text.. EUROCENTRIC . APOCALYPSE: a literary genre that involves a revelation that is not clear or a series of revelations in which the last one is not revealed= the ultimate meaning of the literary text is uncertain. Of Darkness” has no intentional definite meaning (conceived by the author). the second coming of Christ. 3. IRONY.. OF DARKNESS”: It is a literary text. the meaning remains indefinite. ESCHATOLOGICAL: theological term related to eschatology (studies theories about the last events in the history of the world or humankind or the beliefs concerning the end of the world.. 3) THE LITERARY NATURE OF “H.. The reader is free to interpret what the revelation of “Heart of Darkness” is. but analysing and interpreting the text and showing that the reader has been changed by the experience of the text. unspecific. . Similar to Rolland Barthes´s ideas on the role of the reader and what she/he is supposed to do with a text (in “The death of the author”). history). journalism. PARABASIS: presentation of ideas by an imaginary character (= what the narrators say does not represent Conrad´s ideas) ..). . or between appearance and reality (in all cases there may be an element of the absurd and the paradoxical) .. vague. Negative meaning: religious fanaticism. He contrasts “eschatological” and “messianic” to “teleological”. he warns against reading it as sth different from literature FORMAL ASPECTS that identify the text as literature (binary opposition: literature vs. two types are mentioned: 1) Rhetorical figure in which the meaning is contrary to the words 2) Irony is elusive (imprecise): a discrepancy between the words and their meaning. LEITMOTIF: a recurrent (repetitive) element in a literary text (=prosopopeias and catachresis are recurrent through the text . 2) “STRONG READING”: To Miller a “STRONG READING” or “A READING IN THE STRONG SENSE” (par. Christ a universal saviour to Christians. but he/she should try to engage in unravelling (desenredar) the complexities of the text. Miller uses this term because of its relationship with the future and its usual obscurity as another way to insist on the never fulfilled promise of illumination .) shows an intention.2. SHOULD WE READ HEART OF DARKNESS? by JOHN HILLIS MILLER 1) KEY TERMS: . 1) involves not just reading superficially. MESSIANIC: from “messia”: the promised and future saviour (Salvador) of the Jews (Judíos). or between actions and their results. MIMETIC: that the text aims at representing reality faithfully . PROSOPOPEIA (=PERSONIFICATION or ALEGORY): the idea or concept is represented as a human figure with different attributes .

. but the novella must be read as literature. Of Darkness” is racist. personified in the natives. b) The tissue of FIGURES AND RHETORICAL DEVICES (SIMILES that work like a veil hiding something invisible in the text. sexist or both (as it can be read in Achebe´s essay).. (Achebe identifies Conrad with both narrative voices) He suggests that Achebe reads “H. ... by perverting their beliefs in his own benefit. leading to torture. Achebe is included among those critics who say “H. Of Darkness” as a mimetic text that reflects Conrad´s experiences in Africa and his opinions about Africa and Africans. who says Conrad speaks directly for himself . to Conrad and even the critic). does so at her/his peril and in defiance of the most elementary literary conventions”. . their racism and sexism= that is the correct interpretation (paradoxically he points to the reader´s freedom of interpretation but he prescribes how the text must be read). rape. muss murder. “darkness”= Kurtz) Kurtz represents the descent of the “civilised” European into the wild. the horror!” = refers not only to things he did but also his moral corruption The it. The novella only suggest the horrors and crimes committed by Kurtz. and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton). darkness = the moral corruption as the root of all crimes Kurtz= the heart of darkness ⇒ the main prosopopeia in the text 5) MILLER CHALLENGES INDIRECTLY ACHEBE´S READING OF “H. . He ends up absolutely corrupted: “Power tends to corrupt. but ESPECIALLY EMBODIED IN KURTZ. OF DARKNESS” Without mentioning his name. knowing himself free from the limitations established by the institutions. for example it is read as straightforward endorsing Eurocentric. interpret the “unseeable” message through the formal aspects of the text (corruption all right.. But his essay has some characteristics related to post-structuralism and Derrida´s deconstruction 4) PROSOPOPEIAS OR PERSONIFICATIONS OF THE “IT” OR THE “DARKNESS” All the personification of the “it” or “darkness” = preliminary to the final personification (“it”. “. Of Darkness´ that may do harm (to the text. even cannibalism?) “there are certainly ways to read `H. the reader is free to interpret them and are summarised in Kurtz´s dying words: “The horror!. uses his technical and cultural advantage to obtain absolute power over the Africans . racist and sexist ideologies”= Achebe´s (or other´s) simplistic reading ⇒he book points to the evils of imperialism. By identifying the distinctive literary features (absent in other modes of writing) he follows a structuralist strategy (they create systems based on binary oppositions according to distinctive features that characterise or not elements in that system).. authorities.. capitalism. 59 . and thus MAKES OF THE TEXT AN “APOCALYPSE” OR AN EXAMPLE OF “APOCALYSE” GENRE) c) The use of IRONY in the text and its UNDECIDABLE NATURE d) PROSOPOPEIAS OR PERSONIFICATION OF THE “IT” OR “DARKNESS” that Marlow encounters in Africa.

. Aporias (an incurred reading). . 6) MILLER´S READING IS POST-STRUCTURALIST Characteristics of post-structuralism and deconstruction in Miller´s reading: .it may be related to Buddhism (Marlow= the prosopopeia of illumination. that the possible meaning of the text is contrary to its surface meaning. empathy with all human beings.” =the structure of the endlessly deferred promise” . Apocalyptic deferral of meaning= “The structure of H. detachment from the material world. He offers a reading of what that “darkness” and the “illumination” are... binary opposition (literature – journalism. ALLEGORY ) INTERWINED (entrelazados) Marlow described as a Buddha (anonymous narrator): as if he had achieved some kind of illumination with his experience in Africa . The irony. Although that “darkness”. . but a different outlook: non-European. knot in the text we cannot unravel because what is said is self- contradictory): the ungraspable irony. and “darkness” and “illumination” as aporias= they are not real impasses that cannot be disentangled: The reader has to offer his/her disentanglement (=interpretation): very limited by the formal aspects. The reader is free to interpret BUT he limits the possibilities of interpretation and he prescribes how to read the text (binary opposition: a correct. 60 . Conrad suggests that Marlow has embraced (or represents) the ideals of Buddhism: compassion... This recurrent description (leitmotif) indicates that the story told by Marlow to his friends works like a parable (short story illustrating a moral example): reader has to interpret the moral meaning. PARABLE. the unknowable nature of the “it”. which presents a short story typically with a moral lesson at the end.. His post-structuralis strategies veil his traditional discussion of the novella and a correction to the opinions of other critics. which contrasts with Kurtz´s darkness). However (we are critical of Miller): . Quotation taken from Derrida: “The inaccessible incites from its place of hiding”: a first clue to his critical point of view.. Of D. history) = traditional analysis . . His story= a denunciation of the violence. an illumination he acquired and has to share to his friends to enlighten and civilise them 5 PARABLE: figure of speech. . historical setting. corruption of European imperialism in PARABLE5 (as a preaching to his friends: Marlow´s accounts to his friends) So Marlow as the narrator does not represent a Eurocentric point of view.. Attention to the text: “there is nothing out of the text” . “it” is not explicitly named on interpreting . Lack of stable meaning of language: language is endlessly deferred (postponed)= definition of a word leads to the use of synonyms and other words . non-Christian. characters (especially Kurtz). Attention to the formal aspects .. 7) RELIGIOUS OR SACRED GENRES (APOCALYPSE.

. He has seen the evil and has resisted it He has the mission of teaching his friends (about the evils of colonialism. OF DARKNESS” IS EUROCENTRIC OR NOT.. ACCORDING TO WILLIAM BYSSHE STEIN´S ESSAY “Buddhism in the Heart of Darkness” Stein: the meaning of Marlow=Buddha ⇒ transformation that has changed Marlow´s mentality.) but fails because his friends cannot understand his story (=a parable) Marlow does not represent the Eurocentric point of view. So Marlow represents Conrad´s ideas as the character is Conrad´s alter ego (alias): Conrad criticises the horrors. he is a different Other (Buddhism) that has something to teach Europeans about themselves and their oppression of the African Other. the evil and the darkness of colonialism 61 . 8) “H. the lack of compassion.

5. KEY TERMS . THE NEW HISTORICIST APPROACH: He argues that society and literature should be studied together and hopes his arguments shed light on (clarify) structures of power and domination. SURROGATE: substitute 3.3.) Said is unequivocal about the collusion (connivencia) of the discourse of Orientalism with western institutional power structures. 62 . bureaucracy and a certain way of doing things (“style”) 3. principles. This recalls (reminds of) the NEW HISTORICICIST approach which studies literary and non-literary text together and “focuses attention on issues of State power and how it is maintained”.. . 3. EDWARD SAID (1935-2003): EXCERPTS FROM ORIENTALISM (1978) 3. THE MEANING OF ORIENTALISM: 3 designations 1) ACADEMIC: “through its Orientalism´s doctrines and theses about the Orient and the Oriental” 2) The DISTINCTION between the Orient and the Occident 3) The CORPORATE INSTITUTION OF “WESTERN STYLE” for controlling and shaping the orient.1. 3..2.3. academic study. It may include any form of utterance (a poem.3. language.4.3.THE IMAGERY ORIENT: represents one of the West´s most deep-rooted and persistent images of the Other . THE MOST IMPORTANT TASK OF ALL : To seek “contemporary alternatives” to “Orientalism” and study other cultures from a “nonrepressive and nonmanipulative perspective” 3. an advertising campaign. THE IMAGERY ORIENT AND THE MATERIAL ORIENT (paragraph 1) . He means that historically the Orient has challenged or rivalled the West in cultural terms.3. DISCOURSE: in contemporary critical theory means an instance of language that involves the speaker/writer – subject and listener/reader –object.3.THE MATERIAL ORIENT: is a form of discourse supported by institutions. . . CULTURAL CONTESTANT: contestant is sb who takes part in a dispute.3.