In this essay, I am going to read the bodies of the Parsi male characters in Rohinton Mistry’s Tales from Firozsha Baag (1987) through the lens of Julia Kristeva’s theories of the abject. According to Kristeva, the abject refers to the human reaction (horror, vomit) to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object or between self and other, a reaction elicited by bodily fluids such as excrement, blood or even semen. The bodies of the Parsi males in Tales of Firozsha Baag are a site of awareness in which the “bodily borders” (Moreno-Álvarez 2014: 39) explode. In the first section of the essay, I will discuss the stories “One Sunday”, “The Collectors” and “Exercisers”. In the second section, I will delve into Mistry’s Canadian trilogy — ”Squatter”, “Lend Me Your Light” and “Swimming Lessons” — whose main subject is the young Parsi male striving for happiness and individual liberation (moksha) through emigration to North America. I will conclude that these Parsi men have difficulties integrating themselves in their Indian and North American contexts because the realms of the corporeal and the spiritual are, quoting Frantz Fanon’s phrase, “zones of occult instability” (Fanon 1967: 21).
Jane Eyre never-endingly mesmerizes readers and scholars alike thanks to its fairy-tale echoes, but Charlotte Brontë also wrote this novel as a tale of her own myth-making about two fairies: Jane and Edward Rochester, because only fairylands of fantasy and daydreaming might empower an unprotected woman in Victorian times. This article explores Jane Eyre’s life journey and life-writing as if she were a fairy. She begins as a changeling child who torments malevolent adults and consoles herself in fairy tales. When Jane becomes a woman, whose fairy wings of rebelliousness and freedom cannot be torn by social rules or by any mortal, she is eventually crowned by her fairy godmother – Charlotte Brontë – with the diadem of love and gender equality as Titania, a queen in her own right, who chooses to marry her Oberon: Rochester.
After the end of apartheid in 1990 and the new constitution of 1994, the genre of the contemporary South African novel is experiencing a heyday. One reason for this is that, with the end of censorship, the authors can go about unrestraint to take a critical look at the traumatized country and the state of a nation that shows a great need to come to terms with its past. In this context, trauma and narration prove to be a fertile combination, an observation that stands in marked contrast to the deconstructionist view of trauma as ‘unclaimed’ experience and the inability to speak about it.
Michiel Heyns’ Lost Ground (2011) and Marlene van Niekerk’s The Way of the Women (2008) are prime examples of the contemporary South African trauma novel. As crime fiction, Lost Ground not only tells a thrilling story but is also deeply involved in South African politics. The novelist Heyns plays with postmodernist structures, but the real strength of the novel lies in its realistic milieu description and the analysis of the protagonist’s traumatic ‘entanglements’. The Way of the Women is mainly a farm novel but also shows elements of the historical novel and the marriage novel. It continues the process of the deconstruction of the farm as a former symbol of the Afrikaner’s pride and glory. Both novels’ meta-fictional self-reflections betray the self-consciousness of their authors who are aware of the symbolization compulsions in a traumatized country. They use narrative as a means of ‘working through’, coming to terms with trauma, and achieving reconciliation. Both novels’ complex narrative structures may be read as symbolic expressions of traumatic ‘entanglements’ that lie at the heart of the South African dilemma.
Challenging the established poetic idea of Ireland as a unified whole, new Irish poetry encourages a perspective toward homeland alongside with a corresponding revision of Irish subjectivity as liminality. Introduced by Homi Bhabha as a postcolonial cultural term, the idea privileges hybrid cultures and challenges solid or authentic ones. Moreover, this liminal rationale entails a corresponding chronotopic rendition, as Bakhtin intends to theorize it, whereby the notion of spatio-temporality assists the poet in rethinking the Irish identity. An archeologist shrouded as a poet, Heaney’s early work, North (1975), is an attempt to reterritorialize the Motherland while Station Island (1984) represents the deterritorialization of the land, a collection in which Heaney proposes an alternative notion of Irish identity. The present study seeks to show how Heaney’s aforementioned poetry collections manifest a transition from a patently nationalist reception of land to a tendency to liminal spaces. Hence, a critical juxtaposition of these two works bears witness to an endeavor to move beyond the solid, reductionist perspective of the unified Ireland into a state of liminality with respect to Bhabha’s idea of hybridity. Furthermore, it is argued how Bakhtin’s idea of chronotope can accommodate to the accomplishment of such a poetic project.