Home, Maison, Casa: The Politics of Location in Works by Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Erminia Dell'oro

Home, Maison, Casa: The Politics of Location in Works by Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Erminia Dell'oro

Home, Maison, Casa: The Politics of Location in Works by Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Erminia Dell'oro

Home, Maison, Casa: The Politics of Location in Works by Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Erminia Dell'oro

Synopsis

"Erica L. Johnson's exploration of home responds to critical work by postcolonial and feminist theorists on the themes of displacement and exile, and draws on recent work by geographers and historians as well as literary critics. Home, Maison, Casa addresses questions raised by criticism on exile and displacement, such as: from what are exiled subjects displaced? From what manner of "home" are they exiled?" "The book is concerned with homes, maisons, and case - English, French, and Italian words which refer to a similar idea yet which reveal, together, that the notion of being at home, a la maison, or a case pivots on the axis of material dwelling places as well as the more abstract concept of being at home, or chez soi." "Building on this complex concept of home generated by this comparatist framework, the author examines the concept of home in the novels of Jean Rhys, Marguerite Duras, and Erminia Dell'Oro, writers who grew up in the colonial contexts of British Dominica, French Indochina, and Italian Eritrea, respectively. As young women, all three writers were repatriated to European "homelands" unfamiliar to them. Far from resorting to nostalgic narratives of their childhoods in the colonies, however, Rhys, Duras, and Dell'Oro present fractured, often ambivalent memories of the lands of their births in their writing." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Among the great struggles …—good/evil, reason/unreason,
etc.—there is also this mighty conflict between the fantasy
of Home and the fantasy of Away, the dream of roots and the
mirage of the journey.

—Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet

You poor devil of a female, female, female, in a country where
females are only tolerated at best! What’s going to become
of you, Miss Petronella Gray, living in a bed-sitting room in
Torrington Square, with no money, no background and no
nous? … Is Petronella your real name?

—Jean Rhys, “Till September Petronella”

At a certain moment for the person who has lost everything,
whether that means a being or a country, language becomes
the country. One enters the country of words.

—Hélène Cixous, Coming to Writing

This book is concerned with homes, maisons, and case—English, French, and Italian words which refer to a similar idea yet which reveal, together, that the notion of being at home hinges on material dwelling places as well as on abstract categories of belonging, or residing chez sol An architectural as well as psychological, geographical as well as social concept, “home” figures as a deeply personal and highly political theme underlying literary and critical narratives of empire. From imperial narratives which cast “home countries” against colonial peripheries to changing narratives of national identity that have occurred in the aftermath of empires, “home” emerges as a powerful if contested ideological force. In twentieth-century literature, writers from (former) colonies have challenged the discourse of the “motherland” either in the interest of forging independent nationalist identity or in the process of re-

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