Other Writing: Postcolonial Essays in Latin America's Writing Culture (Paperback)
The "unkindest post-colonial cut of all," the Irish poet Seamus Heaney once noted, consists in appropriating, as opposed to expropriating, the language of one's former colonial masters. The author of The Other Writing and the authors studied here do just that, which makes this book doubly cutting. Fully conversant with the critical issues of the current cultural debates, Djelal Kadir goes to great pains to articulate and exercise the scruples with which critical reading and cultured scrutiny might proceed without unduly compromising otherness or capitulating the congeniality of reading and writing as civilizing activities. From Borges's wry speculations on the nature of writing and literary interpretation to Diamela Eltit's wrenching confrontation with the language of gender in a literary tradition that has been as relentlessly patriarchal as its politics, Kadir traces the ways through which writing holds a mirror to itself. Major works of Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Mario Vargas Llosa, Jose Donoso, and Diamela Eltit are scrutinized with an eye to unveiling the writing ghosts that haunt in the writing of these new masters of literary language. Scrupulous in facing the risks involved in engaging one's colonial language and in representing other people's cultures, The Other Writing explores the ways in which these contemporary authors countenance their predicaments as writers who are obliged to pass through the language of their own colonial legacy and literary traditions. The result of these engagements is the impossibility of an unambiguous "self-identity," the impossibility of a writing culture's ever becoming identical to itself. This disjunction, sometimes aesthetically engendered, sometimes historically, socially, and politically imposed, is the crossroads where Kadir's endeavors meet up with the compelling enterprise of the subjects' writing in The Other Writing.
About the Author(s):
Djelal Kadir is the editor of World Literature Today and Distinguished Professor of Literature at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including Questing Fictions and Columbus and the Ends of the Earth.