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Counter-discursive strategies in first-world migrant writing Fachinger, Petra 1993

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COUNTER-DISCURSIVE STRATEGIES INFIRST-WORLD MIGRANT WRITINGbyPETRA FACHINGERStaatsexamen, Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universitat Bonn, 1985A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OFTHE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OFDOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHYinTHE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES(Programme in Comparative Literature)We accept this thesis as conformingto the required standardTHE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIAOctober 1993©Petra Fachinger, 1993Department of^k^az-13J - The University of British ColumbiaVancouver, CanadaIn presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanceddegree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make itfreely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensivecopying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of mydepartment or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying orpublication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my writtenpermission.(Signature)Date (jUi s( (”3DE-6 (2/88)iiABSTRACTThis thesis offers an analytical discussion of contemporaryfictional and autobiographical narratives by migrants who writein a language other than their mother tongue and/or grew up ina bilingual environment. While not all literature by ethnicminority writers is necessarily concerned with the experience ofgrowing up in or living between cultures, the present studydeals with those writers whose texts self-reflexively andcounter-discursively seek to define and express individualidentity at the interface of two or more cultures. The writersdiscussed not only move spatially between places but also shiftemotionally and intellectually between different languages andcultures as well as literary texts from these cultures. Thefocus is on language and the literary text itself as it becomesthe site for an interaction of cultural codes. The methodologyadopted draws eclectically on theories which explore the spacebetween" from anthropological, linguistic, post-colonial andfeminist perspectives.The thesis examines different textual paradigms ofcountering dominant discourses as found in ten representativetexts from Australia, Canada, Germany and the United Stateswhich have been chosen to cover a range of cultural experience.The texts discussed are: Angelika Fremd's Heartland and JosefVondra's Paul Zwillinq; Caterina Edwards' The Lion's Mouth,Henry Kreisel's The Betrayal and Rachna Mara's Of Customs and Excise; Franco Biondi's Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle iiiand Akif Pirincci's Tranen sind immer das Ende: Roman; SandraCisneros' The House on Mango Street, Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language and Richard Rodriguez'Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez. It isshown that self-reflexive negotiation of Self and Other in thetext takes different forms depending on the writer's ethnic andracial background, his/her gender and the adopted country'ssocial and political attitudes toward the newcomer. Re-writing,however, which is understood as an intentional, politicaldialogue with specific texts, is a recurrent counter-discursivestrategy in the texts discussed. Finally, the thesis argues thatthe re-writing of traditional literary genres, such as Novelle,short story cycle, autobiography, Bildungsroman and quest novel,rather than of a particular text, as in other post-colonialcontexts, is the most prevalent form of "writing back" inmigrant literature. Texts written by migrants not onlycreatively revise literary conventions, challenge the concept of"national literature" and undermine canonically establishedcategories, but also defeat attempts to approach a text with asingle "appropriate" theory to reveal the strategies and theeffects of cultural hybridity.TABLE OF CONTENTSAbstract ^Table of Contents ^  ivAcknowledgements  viDedication ^ viiIntroductionWhat Is in a Name,^  1The Corpus ^  5Counter-Discourse and Re-writing ^  15Migrant Writing and Comparative Literature ^ 18Celebrating the Space Between  22Chapter One: Two Works of Minor Literature: FrancoBiondi's Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle andAkif Pirincci's Tranen sind immer das Ende: Roman Deterritorialization and Reterritorialization inAbschied der zerschellten Jahre: Roman (1984) ^ 37Living Second-Hand: Tranen sind immer das Ende: Roman (1980) ^  55Chapter Two: Versions of the Female Migrant ShortStory CycleLiving in the Borderlands: Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street (1984) ^  75Thicker Than Water? Rachna Mara's Of Custom's and Excise (1991) ^  98Chapter Three: The Space between Assimilation andDeracination: Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language and Richard Rodriguez' Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez In Search of the Private Self: Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language (1989) ^  117In Search of a Community: Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982) ^  139ivChapter Four: Re-writing the Bildunqsroman: AngelikaFremd's Heartland and Caterina Edwards' The Lion's MouthLearning by Heart: Heartland (1989) ^  160Learning by Acting: The Lion's Mouth (1982) ^ 177Chapter Five: Re-writing the Male Quest: Josef Vondra'sPaul Zwilling and Henry Kreisel's The Betrayal By Contrast Rather than in Comparison:Paul Zwillinq (1974) ^  192By Comparison: The Betrayal (1964) ^  215ConclusionRacial/Ethnic and Cultural Background ^  235Gender ^  239Multicultural Politics ^  244Intertextuality, Parody and Re-writing Genre ^ 248Works Cited ^  252Works Consulted  262vviACKNOWLEDGEMENTSI would like to thank the members of my dissertationcommittee, Profs. Andrew Busza (Supervisor), Eva-Marie Kr011erand Peter Stenberg for their advice and direction and Profs.Patricia Merivale and Aruna Srivastava for other useful ideas.My special thanks go to the U.B.C. Main library staff at thecirculation desk who never tired of tracing or rushing yetanother book for me and, above all, to Interlibrary Loanswithout whose help this thesis could not have been written. Iwould also like to thank Caterina Edwards, Rachna Mara andFranco Biondi for the time and energy they spent discussingtheir works with me. I am grateful for the support given by theIzaak Walton Killam Memorial committee and the University ofBritish Columbia.for Patrickmy grandmotherand Hildegard von Bingenvii1INTRODUCTIONWhat Is in a Name?My father's name was originally Katsuji Uyemura. ThenThomas Katsuji Uyemura. Then Tom Katsuji Mura. Then Tom K.Mura. (David Mura, Turning Japanese)The terms "ethnic," "multicultural" and "migrant" writingare often used interchangeably in literary criticism dealingwith works by authors outside the ethnic mainstream ofestablished literary traditions. In Australian literarycriticism "migrant" is the favoured term.' The Bicentennialcelebrations of 1988 promoted research on "ethnic" literaturesand drew attention to the lack of a critical vocabulary suitableto describe a literature written by Australian authors from non-Anglo-Celtic cultures. But in spite of the critical awareness inAustralia of the inadequacy of the current terminology,"migrant" is often used as meaning non-Anglo-Celtic writing sothat third-generation Australian writers with an "ethnic"surname are often considered "migrants."2 German critics havebeen using the term Migrantenliteratur rather thanGastarbeiterliteratur for the last ten years when referring tothe literature written by those not born in the country since1 The main proponent of the term "migrant" over"multicultural" and the major theorist of migrant literature inAustralia is Sneja Gunew. See, for example, Striking Chords (1992) edited by Sneja Gunew and Kateryna 0. Longley, a criticalreader on migrant literature.2 See Sneja Gunew, "PMT (Post modernist tensions): Readingfor (multi)cultural difference" in Striking Chords.2they found that the latter term was not only derogatory but alsomisrepresentative.3 Some of the authors whose works have beendesignated as Gastarbeiterliteratur were writing even when theylived in their native countries, others went to Germany in orderto continue their education, and some came from countries suchas Iran and Syria which are not countries from which guestworkers were recruited. The literature written in German bymembers of the second generation (e.g. Dante Andrea Franzettiand Carmine Abate), however, is often also indiscriminatelyreferred to as Miqrantenliteratur. In the United States the mostcommon term for literature written by those who are not membersof the dominant ethnic group is "multicultural" which iscurrently given preference over "multi-ethnic" and "polyethnic."This term is mostly used in an inclusive fashion so that recentAmerican anthologies of multicultural literature include notonly Native American and black writers but also, for example,the Mexican writer Carlos Fuentes.4 The introduction to TheBefore Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology (1992) claims:"'Multicultural' is not a description of a category of Americanwriting--it is a definition of all American writing." The Before3 See Helmut Kreuzer, "Gastarbeiter-Literatur, Auslander-Literatur, Migranten-Literatur? Zur Einftihrung," Zeitschrift ftir Literaturwissenschaft und Linquistik 56 (1984): 7-11.4 See, for example, the Graywolf Press bestseller Multi-Cultural Literacy. Ed. Rick Simonson and Scott Walker. SaintPaul: Graywolf Press, 1988.3Columbus Foundation5 believes that "the ingredients of America's'melting pot' are not only distinct, but integral to the uniqueconstitution of American culture--the whole comprises the parts.There are no outsiders" (xi-xii). Those involved with theFoundation believe that "mainstream" is no longer a validmetaphor for a literature that, in demographic terms, isincreasingly being written by minorities. Co-editor Ishmael Reedsuggests dispensing with notions of "mainstream" and "minorityliterature"; instead one should speak of the "ocean of Americanliterature." According to the Before Columbus Foundation,ethnic hyphenization as in African-American, Asian-American andHispanic-American reduces these literatures to "subculturestatus" (xiii). Werner Sollors argues along similar lines inBeyond Ethnicity: Consent and Descent in American Culture (1986)when he claims that any partitioning of American literaturealong ethnic lines hinders the development of a unified nationalculture. Sollors and other representatives of the so-called"Ethnicity School," such as Mary Dearborn and William5 The Before Columbus Society was founded by Ishmael Reedin 1976 and has been working to redefine notions of mainstreamAmerican literature. The Before Columbus Review is its quarterlypublication. The two-volume anthology of multicultural fictionand poetry, published in 1992, was culled from the AmericanBooks Awards 1980-1990 which the foundation has sponsored since1980. Ishmael Reed, Rudolfo Anaya, Shawn Wong, KathrynTrueblood, Bob Callahan and Gundars Strads were, among others,part of the foundation's Board of Directors in 1992.6 Reed's notions are actually reminiscent of how HermanMelville has his narrator in Redburn (1849) describe theAmerican people: "...our blood is as the blood of the Amazon,made up of a thousand noble currents all pouring into one. Weare not a nation so much as a world..." (216).4Boelhower,7 have been criticized for subsuming race underethnicity.8 According to Alan Wald, the "Ethnicity School"presents one of the two oppositional critical views on ethnicityemploying alternative critical methodologies which havedeveloped in the last two decades in the United States. What hecalls the "'proponents of class, gender and race methodology'"(22-23) represented by critics such as Henry Louis Gates, RamOnSaldivar and Houston Baker, among others, particularly stressthe importance of distinction that theories of culture have tomake between European immigrant groups and internally colonizedpeoples of colour. The prejudice and oppression to whichimmigrants from Italy or Ireland have been exposed differs, sothese critics argue, in degree and in kind from the oppressionsuffered by African-, Asian-and Latino-Americans.In Canada, the argument of critics such as Linda Hutcheonagainst the use of "ethnic" in favour of "multicultural" is that"ethnic" is "never free of relations of power and value" (Other Solitudes 2). Linda Hutcheon and other critics of multiculturalliterature in Canada, however, use the term "multicultural" inquite a different way from The Before Columbus Foundation. LindaHutcheon includes in her anthology Other Solitudes: Canadian 7 See Alan Wald, "Theorizing Cultural Difference: A Critiqueof the 'Ethnicity School,'" MELUS 14.2 (1987): 22-33.8 In Beyond Ethnicity Sollors explains: "I have here sidedwith Abramson's universalist interpretation according to whichethnicity includes dominant groups in which race, whilesometimes facilitating external identification, is merely oneaspect of ethnicity" (36).5Multicultural Fictions (1990) only those writers who arrived inCanada from somewhere else. Some other Canadian critics, amongthem yen Begamudre and Lambert Tassinariu, argue that"multicultural" as a concept fails since it glosses over thedifferences between cultures. They prefer the term"transcultural" which they believe emphasizes "the dynamicpotential of cultural diversity" (Kulyk Keefer 14).9am opting for the term "migrant," since, when takenliterally, it refers only to those writers who, for economic orcircumstantial reasons, exchanged one cultural context foranother. Unlike "multicultural," in some American critics' senseof the word, it therefore excludes writers such as ToniMorrison, Cynthia Ozick, N. Scott Momaday, Sally Morgan,Mudrooroo Narogin, and Lee Maracle, to name but a few, who canbe considered multicultural, from a "beyond-ethnicity"perspective on multiculturalism, but not as migrant writers. Myreasons, however, for prefering "migrant" over "multicultural"or "transcultural" are not merely pragmatic.The Corpus... to be Chinese-American is not the same thing as beingChinese in America. In this sense there is no role modelfor becoming Chinese in America. It is a matter of findinga voice or style that does not violate one's several9 See Janice Kulyk Keefer's article "From Mosaic toKaleidoscope: Out of the Multicultural Past Comes a Vision of aTranscultural Future," Books in Canada September 1991: 13-16.6components of identity. (Michael M. J. Fischer 196)Immigration is a form of abjection. It is a desire for ayet unknown object, a desire that kills its subject. I sitbeside myself in everyday life. I look over my shoulderwhen I write. I said that I'm at home here. Yes, but Idon't feel at home with myself. My immigrant conditionaffords me the (perverse?) pleasure of a doubled view. Mylanguage is the window that looks onto my home and into myhomelessness. My language knows no boundaries. It does notexpress the geography that puts labels on writing, speech,thought. (Smaro Kamboureli, in the second person)I have taken Caliban's advice. I have stolen their books.I will have some run of this isle. (Richard Rodriguez,Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez)Like any corpus, mine is eclectic. Because I am interestedin paradigms of counter-discursive strategies, I have chosen toconcentrate on a limited number of texts rather than presentinga broad survey. I am looking at contemporary non-canonizedfictional and autobiographical narratives, the earliest beingHenry Kreisel's The Betrayal (1964), the most recent RachnaMara's Of Customs and Excise (1991), written by migrants in alanguage other than their mother tongue and by writers havinggrown up in a bilingual environment. The majority of the fivefemale and the five male authors I am dealing with are Europeanimmigrants, the rest are people of colour who are members ofinternally colonized minority groups or who were born in ex-colonies. I am including texts from four different nationalcontexts: Australia, Canada, Germany and the United States. Allfour countries have culturally diverse societies. Germanydiffers from the other three countries in that children born toforeigners in Germany have no claim to citizenship. Post-7colonial criticism refers to Australia and Canada as post-colonial (invader/settler) countries. The United States is oftenno longer recognized as such because of its economically andpolitically hegemonic position. But while the authors of TheEmpire Writes Back argue that American literature is post-colonial in the sense that it "emerged out of the experience ofcolonization" (2), Gayatri Spivak claims that the term "post-colonial" has been used as a label for so many differentcontexts that it is left drained of all political meaning. Shebelieves that the complex and diverse political and economicrelationships between countries and between different groupswithin individual societies could more adequately be describedas "neocolonial" (Spivak 224). And the stream of immigrants fromLatin American, Asian and African countries, in particular, tothe United States has never stopped. According to Arthur M.Schlesinger, more immigrants arrived in the United States duringthe 1980s than in any decade since the 1920s and are responsiblefor a third of population growth (Schlesinger 120).Forms of neo-colonialism exist everywhere today withinWestern societies with a large immigrant population from poorercountries. According to Anne McClintock, "internal colonization"occurs when the group in power treats another group or regionwithin the country as it might an overseas colony (88).Aboriginal peoples everywhere in the New World have beensubjected to colonization as well as the African-Americans andMexican-Americans in the United States. In Germany, people from8southern European countries, which were sources of cheap labourin the nineteen sixties and seventies, have also been undergoingforms of internal colonization. Italian and Turkish migrants,for example, are subjected to mainstream othering in Germany ina way comparable to that of migrants from ex-colonies in the NewWorld. The experience of a German or Italian writing in Canadaor Australia, or that of an Italian living in Germany, isdifferent from that of an American writing in France or that ofa German writing in Italy. In her autobiography Slow Fire (1992)Susan Neiman, a Jewish-American author, describes thepreconceptions about ethnicity and race she encountered duringher stay in Berlin. When looking for an apartment Neiman wasdiscouraged by the restrictive "No Foreigners" in the newspaperadvertisements only to be told that she was not a "foreigner"but part of the "occupation" (46). She later came to theconclusion that "foreigner" in Germany usually means "Turk."10The fact that the texts I am discussing were written out ofpost-colonial and/or neo-colonial experience is an essentialcondition of their textuality.The marginalization of an "ethnic" group is often boundwith the issue of class difference. The fact that poverty andlack of education, in particular, lead to discrimination finds10 This was particularly true of working class Turksspeaking only broken German in the 1970s and 1980s. Today,however, with more than half a million refugees from Africa,Asia and Eastern Europe seeking asylum--a number which motivatedthe government to tighten asylum laws on July 1, 1993--Neiman'sobservation has become outdated.9expression in the texts written by migrants from so-calledguestworker countries in Germany (Franco Biondi, Akif Pirincci)and by Chicano/Chicana writers (Richard Rodriguez, SandraCisneros) in the United States. There is a danger, however, ofturning the condition of the underprivileged into issues ofculture. On the other hand, one often encounters the implicitassumption that the majority of migrants is working-class. Halfof the writers with whom I am concerned are academics who stillare or have been closely associated with academic institutions.Although my selection of authors has been determined onbiographical grounds--with the exception of the Chicano/Chicanawriters all of the authors whose works I am discussing were notborn in the countries where they are living--I emphasize thepsychological and epistemological rather than sociologicalsignifications of the term "migrant." A "migrant" writer is awriter who feels simultaneously at home and not at home in twocultures and two languages, an experience which endows him/herwith a double vision and a bicultural sensibility andimagination. Migrant writers are people who not only literallymove between two geographical places but also shift emotionallyand intellectually between different languages and cultures andtexts from these cultures. The focus of my thesis is on languageand the literary text itself as it becomes the site for aninteraction of cultural codes.The majority of the writers whose works I am discussingare migrants moving into another so-called First-World culture.10This bias is created first of all by my own experience as aEuropean migrant living in Canada. Furthermore, the Eurocentricnature of my academic training makes me more sensitive to formsof self-reflexive alterity in the works of writers with asimilar cultural background than to those in the works ofwriters with a cultural background that differs from mine. Mystudy is not comparative in the sense that it strives to arriveat any general conclusions about the literatures, mainstream ormigrant, written in these countries. It is comparative in thesense that I am making the assumption that texts written bymigrants have certain characteristics in common, since allmigrants share a range of comparable cultural experiences.Despite their obvious differences, the texts written by migrantsare also closely related. My focus is on the migrant experienceitself and its manifestation as an encounter between differentmodes of discourse. In order not to gloss over the culturaldifferences, however, it is necessary to consider the culturalcontexts against which the writing has been produced. AngelikaFremd's Heartland and Josef Vondra's Paul Zwillinq, forinstance, are characterized by their Australianness in theirreproduction of cultural values and belief systems as well as ofliterary conventions and themes, while Caterina Edwards' TheLion's Mouth, Rachna Mara's Of Customs and Excise and HenryKreisel's The Betrayal share ideological and literarycharacteristics that make them Canadian.There has been a proliferation of so-called ethnic or11multicultural writings in all four countries within the last tenyears. The growing interest in autobiographical and fictionalaccounts of migrant lives is the result of increasing migrationworldwide in the wake of political and economic developmentswhich have been turning the world into a "global village."Kateryna 0. Longley refers to migrants as constituting the"Fifth World": "The Fifth World consists of resettled people whohave lost their cultural and linguistic bases. They have incommon the problem of finding a niche and participating in a newdominant culture without having the basic tools that make thispossible--fluency of language and competence with 'the system'in its day-to-day workings..." (22-23). The majority of "ethnic"or "multicultural" texts, however, is not concerned with theexperience of growing up in or living between cultures. I amonly interested in those texts written by migrants which self-reflexively negotiate individidual identity at the interface oftwo or more cultures." It remains to be asked whether or notthe self-reflexive negotiation of Self and Other assumesdifferent forms in texts written by migrants who are not ofEuropean/Western descent. The tension between the active processof acculturation and the individual's identification withII In an interesting discussion of self-reflexivity in"ethnic" texts Eli Mandel defines a work of ethnic literature as"existing at an interface of two cultures, a form concerned todefine itself, its voice, in the dialectic of self and other andthe duplicities of self-creation, transformation, andidentities" ("The Ethnic Voice in Canadian Writing," Figures in a Ground: Canadian Essays on Modern Literature Collected in Honor of Sheila Watson, ed. Diane Bessai and David Jackel(Saskatoon: Western Producer Prairie Books, 1978) 274.12his/her "ethnic" community is expressed differently by visibleminority writers. The pressure to assimilate, many of theirworks imply, is much stronger on visible minority groups than onwhite European "ethnic" groups. Writers from the ex-coloniesoften focus on this pressure, the loss of their peoples' senseof history in the new country and their own need to keep intouch with their cultural heritage. In Canada, for instance,most of the contemporary South Asianu prose writing in Englishby authors such as Rohinton Mistry, M.G. Vassanji, SarosCowasjee and Neil Bissoondathu is not set in Canada. In theUnited States of America and Canada, writers of Chinese descentsuch as Maxine Hong Kingston in The Woman Warrior, Amy Tan inThe Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife and Sky Lee inDisappearing Moon Cafe write about their female relatives' livesin China before emigration and their difficulties of adjustingto the new culture rather than their own. The absence of a moresustained reflection on the predicament of the individual inthese texts can be partly explained by the fact that Chinesemass immigration to North America predates that of other ethnicgroups. Today most writers of Chinese background are thirdgeneration and might not experience otherness as acutely assomeone who has immigrated recently or might not be able to12 I am using the term "South Asian" to denote migrants fromthe Indian sub-continent, i.e. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh andSri Lanka, or those who have ancestral links with thosecountries.13 Although this is not the case with his latest novel, TheInnocence of Age (1992).13explain it.Furthermore, I am excluding canonized authors, that isthose who have been recognized writers for years and whose workshave been published by major publishing houses to internationalacclaim. These authors include second-generation writers such asMaxine Hong Kingston, Amy Tan and Joy Kogawa and first-generation writers such as Bharati Mukherjee and MichaelOndaatje. Although Mukherjee in Jasmine (1989) and Ondaatje inRunning in the Family (1982) employ similar self-reflexivestrategies as the writers I am discussing, the first twoauthors' displacement,14 is of a different kind. Coming to termswith their own ethnicity is not an immediate subject in theirfiction. But more importantly, neither Mukherjee's norOndaatje's texts reveal the anxiety over the impossibility oftranslation from one language to another characteristic of thetexts I am dealing with.I want to show that, in spite of their different cultural14 Suwanda H.J. Sugunasiri argues that Michael Ondaatje"experienced no displacement" (64) and Arun Mukherjee claimsthat he "... does not write about his otherness. Nor does hewrite about the otherness of the Canadian society for him" (33).Ondaatje's reply to Linda Hutcheon's question in an interview inOther Solitudes if he "feels" like a Sri Lankan Canadian writerironically confirms Sugunasiri's and Mukherjee's claims.Ondaatje says he "feels" that he "has been allowed the migrant'sdouble perspective, in the way, say, someone like Gertrude Steinwas 're-focused' by Paris" (197). In an unpublished paper withthe title "Jasmine, the Sweet Scent of Exile", Anu Anejacriticized Mukherjee for trying to please a white middle-classaudience and for thus giving up her oppositonal position on themargins to turn into a "cosmopolitan" writer and Emmanuel S.Nelson expresses his disappointment with the "superficial""analysis of racism" in Mukherjee's Darkness (Nelson 57-58).14contexts, the texts I have chosen share certain features withregard to their subject matter, their language, their modes and,above all, their discursive strategies. Certain literary genressuch as autobiography, the Bildunqsroman and the quest novel arebuilt on self-reflexivity, "the duplicities of self-creation"(Mandel) within society, and provide challenging paradigms forthe representation of migrant experience. All three formsdescribe quests for self-awareness and socialization processes.In migrant writing the focus is on the protagonist'sacculturation, the transformation from cultural outsider to"insider" or of his/her inability or refusal to become part ofthe dominant group. Since the educational system has assumedsuch a dominant role in an individual's socialization andacculturation, institutional education is a topic in most of thetexts I am considering.Unlike Shakespeare's Caliban who is forced to learnProspero's language, the migrant writer lets his/her own tonguedisrupt the flow of the dominant language. Migrant writing isbilingual in a sense that the Other language is always present.This presence manifests itself in the intrusion of words fromthe authors' (m)other tongues. Sometimes the words are leftuntranslated, sometimes a translation is offered in parenthesis.Bilingualism also expresses itself in form of intentional orunintentional interference, stylistic over-determination, code-switching, neologism and defamiliarization. On the narrativelevel, the bicultural imagination leaves its imprint in doubling15techniques, privileging of juxtaposition over progressivenarrative strategies, intertextuality, transgression andhybridization of genres. These strategies are oppositionalbecause they undermine fixity and promote difference. Thewriters I am dealing with re-write works or literary conventionsof their cultural background and/or that of their adoptedcountry. They are bricoleurs, using, in Claude Levi-Strauss'words, the means at hand in an attempt to draw attention to therelativity of cultural norms and to lay open the culturalconstructedness of identity.15Counter-Discourse and Re-writingIn every language, moreover, discourse and syntax supplyindispensable means of supplementing deficiencies ofvocabulary. (Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind)Every age re-accentuates in its own way the works of itsimmediate past. The historical life of classic works is infact the uninterrupted process of their social andideological re-accentuation. Thanks to the intentionalpotential embedded in them, such works have proved capableof uncovering in each era and against ever new dialogizingbackgrounds ever newer aspects of meaning; their semanticcontent literally continues to grow, to further create outof itself. (M.M. Bakhtin,"Discourse in the Novel," 421)Along with the authors of The Empire Writes Back, Diana Brydondefines "post-colonial" as "the lingering legacy of theimperial/colonial relation" (Brydon, "The Myths That Write Us:See the first chapter in Claude Levi-Strauss' The Savage Mind (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972).16Decolonising the Mind" 4). In most post-colonial criticism, theterm post-colonial is used to designate a literature produced inthe former colonies that assumes a position of resistance to themetropolis. Many post-colonial critics are interested in theliterary strategies which post-colonial writers employ toexpress these relations. "Counter-discursive strategies," asHelen Tiffin, among others, refers to these oppositionalstrategies subverting the dominant discourse (Helen Tiffin,"Post-Colonial Literatures and Counter-Discourse" ),16 take ondifferent forms, such as magic realism17 and post-colonialallegory. 18 Re-writing is another such strategy. A frequentstrategy adopted in "writing back to the empire" consists in there-writing of a specific canonical work. Just as Jean Rhys inWide Sargasso Sea and Bharati Mukherjee in Jasmine "write back"to Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Caterina Edwards re-writesMadame Bovary in her novella "Becoming Emma." The threecanonical works which have been re-written over and over againIn "Post-Colonial Literatures and Counter-Discourse"Tiffin adopts the concept from Richard Terdiman'sDiscourse/Counter-Discourse: The Theory and Practice of Symbolic Resistance in Nineteenth-Century France (Ithaca: Cornell UP,1985).17 See Tiffin "Post-Colonial Literatures and Counter-Discourse."^18^See^Stephen^Slemon,^"Monuments^of^Empire:Allegory/Counter-Discourse/Post-Colonial Writing," Kunapipi 9.3(1987): 1-16.17by those at the margins are Shakespeare's The Tempest", DanielDefoe's Robinson Crusoe2° and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.21 Re-writing, that is exposing the assumptions thatunderlie the dominant discourse and "dis/mantling" them (Tiffin23), can also limit itself to a certain aspect, element or ideaof a canonical text, or the particular ideology that is espousedby it. Re-writing is a counter-discursive strategy to whichvarious kinds of minority groups have resorted. Helene Cixous,among other feminist critics, has underlined the importance ofwomen's re-writings of patriarchal myths. Over the last fewdecades, feminist writers and critics have, for example, beenre-writing fairy tales, mythologies and religious texts fromtheir own points of view. The migrant writers whose works I amdiscussing also engage in various forms of re-writing. One type" See, for instance, George Lamming's The Pleasures of Exile (1960), Aime Cesaire's Une Tempete: Adaptation De "La tempete" De Shakespeare Pour Un Theatre Négre (1969), FernandezRetamar's Caliban (1972), Max Dorsinville, Caliban Without Prospero: Essays on Quebec and Black Literature (1974). Forcriticism on re-writings of The Tempest see Elaine Showalter's"Miranda's Story" in her book Sister's Choice: Tradition and Change in American Women's Writing,Peter Erickson's Rewriting Shakespeare, Rewriting Ourselves,Diana Brydon's "Re-writing The Tempest," Laura Donaldson's "TheMiranda Complex: Colonialism and the Question of FeministReading" and Chantal Zabus' "A Calibanic Tempest in Anglophoneand Francophone New World Writing."20 Michel Tournier's Vendredi ou Les Limbes Du Pacifique (1967), Samuel Selvon's Moses Ascending (1975) and J.M.Coetzee's Foe (1986) are the most widely discussed re-writingsof Robinson Crusoe.21 See, for example, Wilson Harris' Heartland (1964), JamesNgugi's The River Between (1965), Tayeb Salih's Season of Migration to the North (1970) and Audrey Thomas' Blown Figures (1974).18of re-writing, however, seems to predominate in these texts: there-writing of genre.Migrant Writing and Comparative Literature...when Europeans come together to discuss their variousnational literatures, they are seen as being able tocommunicate coherently across linguistic barriers, and suchcoherence is not only encouraged in conferences but eveninstitutionalized in the form of comparative literaturedepartments in various universities across the country; incontrast, when ethnic minorities and Third World peopleswant to have similar discussions, their dialogue isrepresented, according to the ideology of humanism, asincoherent babble, even though they propose to use a singledominant European language for this purpose. (Abdul R.JanMohamed and David Lloyd 3-4)Comparative Literature today has often to contend with thecriticism of those working within the field ofCommonwealth/Post-Colonial Literary Studies. In search of amethodology for the "comparison" of the new literatures inEnglish, post-colonial critics have looked to the discipline,which also "compares" literatures, for a suitable methodologyand found it guilty of "political conservatism" (Tiffin, "Post-Colonial Literatures and Counter-Discourse" 19). ComparativeLiterature has been criticized above all for its Eurocentrism,its ideal of universality and its lack of self-reflexivity.Within the last decade, however, Comparative Literature hasmoved away from the rigid and isolated pursuit of some of itstraditional (Eurocentric) areas of study: the study of themes,genres, literary movements and influence/interrelation. In theintroduction to The Comparative Perspective on Literature: 19Approaches to Theory and Practice (1988), one of the more recentattempts by Western literary comparatists to redefine theirdiscipline, Clayton Koelb and Susan Noakes conclude:"Comparative Literature today seems to be less a set ofpractices (e.g., comparing texts in different languages,comparing literary and 'nonliterary' texts, comparing literatureand the other arts) and more a shared perspective that seesliterary activity as involved in a complex web of culturalrelations." (11) In recent years the objective of manyconferences organized by Comparative Literature Departments andProgrammes has been to "decolonise" Comparative Literature.One would think that a discipline which has no stable canonand is interested in cultural relations would eagerly embracethe study of emerging and minority literatures despite the manyrules which have been imposed on it by white male critics sinceits inception. Diana Brydon points out that a main point ofdisagreement between post-colonial critics and literarycomparatists "begins with their definitions of what constitutesa national literature" (Brydon, "Post-Colonial Discourse/Post-Colonial Practice: Re-siting The Tempest 7). She goes on toquote Frank Warnke22 who claims that Comparative Literature usesthe term "national literature" to designate "not the literatureproduced by citizens of a given nation-state but rather theliterature of a given language" (Warnke 48, footnote 1). The22 Warnke's essay is included in Koelb and Noakes' criticalanthology.20preference traditional Comparative Literature has given tolanguage over political borders in determining what constitutesa national literature is reflected in the Comparative Literaturecurricula of North-American universities. In most North Americanuniversities it would, for instance, not be legitimate for aPh.D. student in Comparative Literature to write a thesis onAustralian, American and Anglo-Canadian poetry. As Brydon pointsout, "such an approach [as Warnke's] actively obstructsunderstanding of the differences of post-colonial englishes andtheir literatures" and unjustly privileges language over othercultural factors (7).In "Dissemination: Time, Narrative, and the Margins of theModern Nation" Homi Bhabha argues that today the nation iswritten by those who occupy the margins, that is, people ofcolour, women and migrants. Migrants, who are usually at home in(at least) two languages and cultures, challenge the concept of"national literature." Does Akif Pirincci who was born in Turkeyand writes in German participate in Germany's or Turkey'snational literature? Is Henry Kreisel an Austrian or Canadianauthor? And is Sandra Cisneros a Chicana, Mexican or Americanwriter? Whereas German literary critics, for instance, are stilldebating the national literary affiliation of migrant writers inGermany,23 Canadian literary critics are unanimous in welcomingHenry Kreisel, for example, into the Canadian canon. Sandra23 See Harald Weinrich, "Um eine deutsche Literatur vonauSen bittend," Merkur 37.8 (1983):911-20.21Cisneros' public identity as American writer, on the other hand,is at odds with her personal and political identity as aChicana. According to Sneja Gunew and K. 0. Longley, themajority of texts written by migrant writers in Australia is notconsidered to be part of institutionalized Australian Literature(introduction to Striking Chords) • 24 Migrant writers also upsetthe boundaries of literature departments. Should RichardRodriguez' autobiography, for instance, be taught in an EnglishDepartment, in American or Hispanic Studies or a Department ofChicano Studies?Furthermore, the majority of texts written by migrantsresists translation into another language. Sandra Cisneros' TheHouse on Mango Street, for instance, which reproduces in Englishthe syntactic and idiomatic qualities of Spanish, would losepart of its oppositional thrust when translated into French,Hindi or Japanese. The same holds for Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle in which Franco Biondi works creatively with theGerman language to write, as he puts it, against itsforeignness. Not only do these texts resist translation, butthey also blur the borders of genre.Celebrating the Space BetweenHe spoke of his theory with which he was trying to24 See also Con Castan, "Ethnic Australian Writing. Is ItReally Australian Literature?" Outrider 3.2 (1986): 64-79.22revolutionise the attitude of the country to its past. Heclaimed that in order to understand history, one needed atype of vision that only people placed at the crossroadscould provide. That is, people who lived between cultures,who were forced to live double lives, belonging to nogroup, and these he called 'the people in between.' Thisvision, he maintained, was necessary to the alchemy ofcultural understanding. (Antigone Kefala, The Island)To be a critic of ethnic literature is, indeed, first andforemost, to learn about position, to be aware that onespeaks from some point or some status, hence to become morecareful about and with theory. (Francesco Loriggio 576)The theoretical approach to migrant literature needs to beeclectic. There is no single literary theory that can adequatelydescribe the strategies of a crosscultural endeavour thatmanifests itself in the interaction of discursive strategies.There are various theorists who have been exploring the "spacebetween" from different angles. Anthropologist Victor Turner,adopting Arnold van Gennep's model, speaks of the phase between"separation" and "reaggregation" in rites of passage as"liminal." The most important properties of this intermediatephase are transgression of boundaries, a special liminalvocabulary where "normal word-order may be reversed or evenrandomly scrambled" and paradox, "or being both this and that"("Variations on a Theme of Liminality" 37). The liminal is therealm of cultural creativity and change in which the individualis freed from society's structures to enter "communitas," an"anti-structural" mode, a word Turner coined to designate"dissolution of normative social structure" (60 "Liminal toLiminoid, In Play, Flow, And Ritual"). Liminality is a phase of23social transition, "a sort of social limbo" (57), a state of"topsy-turvidom" with its own rules and structures.Another theorist acutely aware of the interdependence oflinguistic and social constraints is Mikhail M. Bakhtin. Heargues that there exist two counter tendencies within anylanguage system. One tendency is toward monoglossia, a tendencytoward "linguistic unification and centralization, an expressionof the centripetal forces of language" (The Dialogic Imagination 270), the other toward heteroglossia through which "thecentrifugal forces of language carry on their uninterruptedwork" and "the uninterrupted processes of decentralization anddisunification go forward" (272) thus revealing the dialogicnature of language. The greater the rift between the forces of"official" and "unofficial" language is, the harder it is forunofficial speech to pass into dominant discourse. Heteroglossia operates in all utterance and is responsible for the generationof "new socially typifying 'languages'" (291). Thisheteroglossic condition of language brings forth hybridization.According to Bakhtin, hybridization, the "mixing of twolanguages within the boundaries of a single utterance" (358) isa deliberate "artistic device" in the novel, while "unconscioushybridization is one of the most important modes in the .evolution of all languages" (358). Both "unconscious"hybridization and hybridization as a stylistic and narrativestrategy in migrant literature are the subject of my thesis. Forthe migrant a word or phrase exists simultaneously within at24least two languages and two cultural systems. When a "bilingual"migrant writes in the language of the dominant group the wordsbecome "double-voiced," and thus potentially subversive in thatany attempt to fix meaning is automatically undermined.Re-writings, or re-accentuations in Bakhtin's words, arecelebrations of Bakhtin's heteroglossia and Turner's "anti-structural" mode. The works I am discussing are liminal in thatthey transgress genres and linguistic boundaries. The migrantwriter's position is paradoxical in that he/she is writing fromthe margins of society but has the imaginative space of twocultures at his/her disposal. This spatial dialectic expressesitself in the location of the narrative between two (or more)places: a German town and a Mediterranean village in Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle, Cologne and a Turkish villagein Tranen sind immer das Ende: Roman, Chicago and a Mexicanvillage in The House on Mango Street, India, Canada and Englandin Of Customs and Excise, Cracow, Vancouver and New York in Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language, Sacramento and Mexicoin Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez, Berlinand a small Australian town in Heartland, Venice and Edmonton inThe Lion's Mouth, Vienna and Melbourne in Paul Zwilling andVienna and Edmonton in The Betrayal. The two (or more) placesbecome geographical tropes expressing the differences betweenthe cultures. In travel literature, the journey to a foreigncountry can also be described as a transitional phase with25liminal features.25 Since the phases of "separation" fromsociety and "reaggregation" into society are very differentexperiences in the case of migration and travel, the liminalphase is also characterized by a different kind of dialecticbetween Self and Other. This dialectic finds expression in itsparticular relationship to space. Unlike the traveller whoremains more or less outside the other culture, the migrant--even if he/she refuses to become a member of the other society--is still a part of it. The bicultural imagination not onlytriangulates between here and there in a desire for "home," butfinds expression also in a proliferation of liminal spaces suchas confining hotel rooms or apartments, boats, attics, nationalborders, boundaries between neighbourhoods, gardens, windows,doors and thresholds, the opposition between inside and outside,private and public space. In his essay "Of Other Spaces" MichelFoucault claims: "Me are in the epoch of juxtaposition, theepoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of thedispersed" (22). The concept of space gives way to the conceptof "site," which "is defined by relations of proximity betweenpoints" (23). Foucault uses the term heterotopia to designate"counter-sites" in which the sites within a culture "aresimultaneously represented, contested, and inverted" (24).Heterotopia is a cultural space within society which "is capable25 See Norma J. Bishop, "Liminal Space in Travellers' Tales:Historical and Fictional Passages," diss., The PennsylvaniaState U, 1986.26of juxtaposing in a single real place several spaces, severalsites that are in themselves incompatible" (25). Furthermore,heterotopias begin "to function at full capacity when men arriveat a sort of absolute break with their traditional time" (26).Heterotopia can contribute to an understanding of the tensionsbetween here and there and now and then in migrant literature.The bicultural imagination juxtaposes spaces and brings textsand literary conventions from different cultures together andchallenges the traditional order of things by placing texts andconventions into new contexts thereby inverting their meaning.Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in their critical work onFranz Kafka pose the question: "How many people today live in alanguage that is not their own?" (19). These critics refer to aliterature as "minor" when it is being forced into a position ofotherness on account of its non-territorial status. They assertthat minority literature is characterized by three features: "ahigh coefficient of deterritorialization" in its language, thefact that "everything in [it] is political" and "that in iteverything takes on a collective value (16-17). In the migrant'slanguage the word is wrenched from its referent and thesignifier cut off from the signified. Deterritorializedlanguage, however, does not only express alienation but alsobears the potential for creation and innovation. If somebody iswriting from the margins, Deleuze and Guattari claim, "thissituation allows the writer all the more the possibility toexpress another possible community and to forge the means for27another consciousness and another sensibility" (17). The twoauthors' emphasis on the "collective value" of minorityliterature and the possibility of alternative community comesclose to Turner's notion of liminal communitas with its anti-structural potential of "dissolution of normative socialstructure" ("Liminal to Liminoid, In Play, Flow, And Ritual" 60)and to "generate and store a plurality of alternative models forliving, from utopias to programs, which are capable ofinfluencing the behavior of those in mainstream social andpolitical roles" (65).Deleuze and Guattari in their essay closely link thequestion of levels of language with the concept ofterritorialization. They borrow the concept of tetraglossia fromFrench linguist Henri Gobard who differentiates between fourlevels of language at work in any society: vernacular ormaternal language belonging to a rural community, theterritorial language of "here"; vehicular language, language ofthe city and of bureaucracy, the language of firstdeterritorialization, the language that is "everywhere";referential language, the language of meaning and culture whichbrings about cultural reterritorialization, the language whichis "over there"; and mythic language, the language of religiousor spiritual reterritorialization, the language of the "beyond"(Deleuze and Guattari 23). Gobard's sociolinguistic model showsthat translatability is, above all, the property of thevehicular language--which Bakhtin refers to as "official"28language--, where the emphasis is on content and not onexpression. The two languages, English and German, which servethe writers I am discussing as "vehicular" and "referential"languages, have a special status as the language of culture.For migrants from southern Europe, for instance, German isa language of power because of Germany's economic hegemony.German is also the lingua franca which migrants with differentmother tongues use to communicate with each other. At the sametime German has, because of its abuse during the Nazi regime, apeculiar history among European languages, a history whichGeorge Steiner claims made the German language go "dead"(Steiner 96) and which forced Henry Kreisel to renounce it ashis referential language. Franco Biondi's concept of writing inopposition to the foreignness in the language implies amanipulation of the language in a way that offers himpossibilities of reterritorialization. English has beensubjected to deterritorialization in its function as theinternational language of business and the language of Americanmultinationals. In that and other respects American Englishdiffers from Australian and Canadian English which in RobertKroetsch's words can be called "mandarin" English (Kroetsch,"The American Writer and the American Literary Tradition" 11).When Henry Kreisel talks about his decision to abandon Germanfor English it becomes clear that he means British English andconsequently he turned to British authors for guidance duringhis first years in Canada. In other words, when a migrant writer29in Australia or Canada writes in English, he/she decides tocontribute to a "minor" literature--a literature "which aminority constructs within a major language" (Deleuze 16)--within a literature that is already written in a "minor"language. On the other hand, when a Chicano/Chicana opts forusing English as his/her referential language, he/she choosesthe language of the colonizer. Sandra Cisneros, for instance,deterritorializes English by reproducing in English the syntaxand idiomatic qualities of the Spanish language. Deleuze andGuattari's concept of deterritorialization andreterritorialization is useful as a theoretical frameworkparticularly in the case of writers who are part of massimmigrations or mass labour exchanges from one country toanother as are migrants from southern Europe and theChicanos/Chicanas in the United States.In Borderlands/La Frontera (1987) Chicana critic and writerGloria Anzald-da gives voice to "the new mestiza"26 who is caughtin the interstices between the various cultures she inhabits.Living in the "borderlands" between the American and Mexicanworlds shecopes by developing a tolerance for contradictions, atolerance for ambiguity. She learns to be an Indian inMexican culture, to be Mexican from an Anglo point of view.She learns to juggle cultures. She has a pluralpersonality, she operates in a pluralistic mode--nothing isthrust out, the good the bad and the ugly, nothingrejected, nothing abandoned. Not only does she sustain26 It is interesting to note that West Indian poet LornaGoodison uses the persona of the "mulatta" in I Am Becoming MyMother (1986) to re-write patriarchal mythology.30contradictions, she turns the ambivalence into somethingelse. (79)"Borderlands" becomes a metaphor for that liminal space of"infinite possibility," paradox and oppositional practice: "Losatravesados live here: the squint-eyed, the perverse, the queer,the troublesome, the mongrel, the mulato, the half-breed, thehalf dead; in short, those who cross over, pass over, or gothrough the confines of the 'normal'" (Anzaldiaa 3). In her ownwriting Anzaldiaa practises what she theorizes by mixingautobiography, historical document and poetry.Mauritian critic Francoise Lionnet develops a similarconcept of the space between. In the wake of Wilson Harris' andEdward Kamau Brathwaite's analyses of the creolization of post-colonial societies, she uses metissaqe to describe the practicesof self-representation in five post-colonial female authors ofdiverse cultural backgrounds who "subvert all binary modes ofthought by privileging (more or less explicitly) theintermediary spaces where boundaries become effaced" (Lionnet18). According to Lionnet, metissage denotes a "braiding" "ofcultural forms" (4), "a form of bricolage," in that "it bringstogether biology and history, anthropology and philosophy,linguistics and literature" (8). Lionnet regards metissage as a"concept of solidarity" (9) "where solidarity becomes thefundamental principle of political action against hegemoniclanguages" (6) which is reminiscent of Turner's notions ofcommunitas and Deleuze and Guattari's vision of "anotherpossible community" and "another consciousness and another31sensibility" (17). Lionnet asks to go beyond overturning binaryoppositions and instead "to articulate new visions of ourselves[sic], new concepts that allow us [sic] to think otherwise, tobypass the ancient symmetries and dichotomies that have governedthe ground and the very condition of possibility of thought, of'clarity' in all of Western philosophy" (6).The notion of writing from a cultural space between is oneexpressed equally by minority writers and feminist theorists ofvarious backgrounds. In "The Laugh of the Medusa" (1975) theFrench critic Hélène Cixous argues that the dichotomy betweenmale and female imprisons women within the binary structures ofpatriarchy. In her essay she promotes "other bisexuality" whichdefers sexual and cultural identity. Reminiscent of MichelFoucault's pronouncement that we live in "an age ofjuxtaposition," Cixous claims:we are at the beginning of a new history, or rather of aprocess of becoming in which several histories intersectwith one another. As subject for history, woman alwaysoccurs simultaneously in several places. Woman un-thinksthe unifying, regulating history that homogenizes andchannels forces, herding contradictions into a singlebattlefield. (882)Cixous attacks binary thought which, in her opinion, is thepillar of patriarchy, and hails a feminine language thatsubverts binary patriarchal logic. Both men and women haveaccess to the bisexual mode of writing; at this point inhistory, however, it is women who are open to and equipped forthis interstitial mode:A woman's body, with its thousand and one thresholds ofardor--once, by smashing yokes and censors, she lets it32articulate the profusion of meanings that run through it inevery direction--will make the old single-grooved mothertongue reverberate with more than one language. (885)In Cixous' description, Anzaldiaa's claim of the mestiza's tolerance for cultural ambiguity and Lionnet's idea of a"braiding" of cultural forms meet. Cixous' battle againstmonolithic language and hegemonic cultural models shares certainfeatures with Deleuze and Guattari's concept of "becoming minor"which is their retort to the homogenizing voice of power. Thesecritics suggest:To make use of the polylingualism of one's own language, tomake a minor or intensive use of it, to oppose theoppressed quality of this language to its oppressivequality, to find points of nonculture or underdevelopment,linguistic Third World zones by which a language canescape.... (26-27)Cixous' concept of the "other bisexuality," the concept of"becoming minor" and theories of creolization, hybridization andmestizale all run counter to the belief in the fixity ofcultural identity.27In liminality, according to Victor Turner, "people 'play'with the elements of the familiar and defamiliarize them.Novelty emerges from unprecedented combinations of familiarelements" ("Liminal to Liminoid, In Play, Flow, And Ritual"60). Robert Kroetsch argues that "[a] principal way to establish27 Marjorie Garber in her investigation of the culturalpolitics of cross-dressing discusses the possibilities of the"third." The third for her "is a mode of articulation, a way ofdescribing a space of possibility" since "[t]hree puts inquestion the idea of one: of identity, self-sufficiency, self-knowledge" (Garber 11). The concept of cross-dressing couldoffer some interesting insights into the counter-discursivestrategies in migrant writing.33or re-establish narrative coherence in the face of the gapbetween signifier and signified is through a re-telling ofstories" ("The Grammar of Silence: Narrative Pattern in EthnicWriting" 69). The tension between this ludic and innovativeaspect and the urge to re-gain voice is characteristic for themigrant text. The first, for instance, manifests itself in thesubversion of mainstream language and re-writings of variouskinds, the second in the privileging of narrative genres whichfocus on the self such as the Ktinstlerroman (Fremd, Edwards,Cisneros, Pirincci) and autobiography (Hoffman and Rodriguez).The first chapter, "Two Works of Minor Literature: FrancoBiondi's Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle and AkifPirincci's Tranen sind immer das Ende: Roman," demonstrates howan Italian and a Turkish writer in Germany counter the discourseof the masters. In Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle Biondi subverts the form of the Novelle and re-writes certainaspects of Gottfried Keller's Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe.Pirincci's Tranen sind immer das Ende: Roman is a picaresque re-writing of Goethe's Werther and its adaptation by East GermanUlrich Plenzdorf's Die Leiden des jungen W.. Biondi's andPirinccis's texts are characterized by their emphasis onpolitics, their "collective value" and the authors' attempt todeterritorialize and reterritorialize the German language.The second chapter, "Versions of the Female Migrant ShortStory Cycle": Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street and34Rachna Mara's Of Customs and Excise explores another strategy ofchallenging totalizing discourse. Cisneros and Mara focus on themultiple marginalization of migrant women within the dominantculture and the patriarchal world. The short story cycle offersformal possibilities to capture the dialectic between theindividual and the community. The cyclical form with itsinherent tension of unity in disunity is reflected in thegenerational cycle of first-generation mothers and second-generation daughters and their attempt to sustain a femalegenealogy across the ideological generation gap. Female space isreterritorialized at the end of the cycles.The third chapter, "The Private and the Public Self: EvaHoffman's Lost in Translation: A Life in a New Language andRichard Rodriguez' Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriquez," shows how these two authors transgress genre bymerging autobiography and essay, thus claiming general validityfor their personal stories. Both authors focus on the importanceof language in the social construction of reality and argue thatliteracy in the dominant language is the social transformationalpower. They maintain that public life cannot be expressed in thevernacular. Their choice to write in the most American ofAmerican genres, autobiography,28 reflects the authors' desire28 See, for example, Robert F. Sayre, "Autobiography and theMaking of America," Autobiography: Essays Theoretical and Critical,ed. James Olney (Princeton, Princeton UP, 1980) 146-168 and WilliamC. Spengemann and L.R. Lundquist, "Autobiography and the AmericanMyth," American Quarterly 17.3 (1965): 501-519.35for assimilation into the dominant culture. The story ofmigration turns into a story of conversion.In Chapter Four, "Re-writing the Bildunqsroman: CaterinaEdwards' The Lion's Mouth and Angelika Fremd's Heartland," Idemonstrate how alterity is depicted as a privileged state. Inre-writing the traditional Bildunqsroman Fremd and Edwardsappropriate the male European plot to a migrant woman's ends.Resistance to closure, reversal of discourse, intertextualityand hybridization are the most prominent strategies they employto counter the official story of identity formation.The fifth chapter, "Re-writing the Male Quest: JosefVondra's Paul Zwillinq and Henry Kreisel's The Betrayal,"discusses Vondra's and Kreisel's adaptation of Joseph Campbell'squest myth. In both novels the theme of the Doppelqanger isclosely interwoven with that of the quest. The quest in migrantliterature written by men does not always end in success and thespace between is not as easily redeemable for male writers as itis for female writers.The rationale for the coupling of texts in each of the fivechapters is the similarity of the discursive strategies theyemploy rather than their authors' gender, ethnic and culturalbackground or the country in which the texts were written.Furthermore, multicultural study should put people into adialogue with the Other. My intention is to create a polyphonyof voices not only by putting two texts into a dialogue, but36also by introducing other voices through epigraphs which offeradditional perspectives of the space between.37Chapter One: Two Works of Minor Literature: Franco Biondi'sAbschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle (1984) and AkifPirincci's Tranen sind immer das Ende: Roman (1980)Reality, however one interprets it, lies beyond a screen ofclichés. Every culture produces such a screen, partly tofacilitate its own practices (to establish habits) andpartly to consolidate its own power. Reality is inimical tothose with power. (John Berger, And our faces, my heart, brief as  photos)Deterritorialization and Reterritorialization in Abschied derzerschellten Jahre: Novelle Franco Biondi's Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle is"minor literature" in Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's sense.These critics assert that minority discourse is characterized bythree features: "a high coefficient of deterritorialization"(16) in its language, an emphasis on politics, and a collectivevalue.Franco Biondi migrated to Germany as a guestworker in 1965when he was eighteen years old. He later obtained a diploma inpsychology. Since the mid-seventies he has been writingexclusively in German. Biondi's situation as an Italian-bornwriter in Germany is different from that of the other writerswith whom I am dealing. The difference lies not so much in thefact that Biondi learned his adopted language relatively late inlife, since that is also true of Henry Kreisel and Josef Vondra,but in the fact that Germany is not a settler country. Massimmigration to Germany is a relatively recent phenomenon. TheGerman government never thought of labour migration from38southern European countries to Germany during the 1960s and1970s as permanent immigration, but as a temporary influx oflabour. Therefore, questions of assimilation, multiculturalismand integration had not been dealt with in German politics onthe level of the country's constitution before reunification andother recent international political events. In reality,however, several million of the guestworkers who originallyarrived in Germany with a work visa, have become permanentresidents. For them Germany is no longer a guest country, "emnGastland," as the politicians chose to call it. The officialpolicy pursued a dual strategy, simultaneously aiming attemporary integration and at the guest workers' return to theirhome countries. In recent years the rights and demands of thesecond generation, that is the children of those Gastarbeiter who were born and raised in Germany, have moved into theforeground of the political discussion. Those born in Germanyoften never learn the language of their parents, yet they arenot full members of the "guest country" since they retain theirparents' nationality.'Biondi's Novelle deals with the fate of twenty-year-oldMamo, the son of Gastarbeiter parents in Germany. His parentsand three younger siblings were asked to leave Germany since the1 Members of the second generation, like other foreignersin the FRG, do not have the right to vote and are subject to theso-called Auslandergesetze. The Auslandergesetze were firstenforced in 1965 and then revised in 1990. Paragraph 45 saysthat a foreigner can be deported if his/her residence in the FRGinterferes with public order and security or other considerableinterests of the country.39authorities insist that the apartment they had been living infor twenty years was too small for a family of six. Since theywere not able to find a larger apartment within the time grantedthem, they returned to their home country leaving Mamo behind.Being of age, Mamo has his own residence permit. But when heloses his job, he, too, receives a letter from the immigrationoffice asking him to leave Germany within a few weeks. Mamo,however, feels that Germany is home and decides to stay.Abschied der zerschellten Jahre follows from the alternatingperspective of a third-person narrator and interior monologueMamo's thoughts, feelings and memories during the time he awaitshis deportation. Equipped with a gun which he bought from anAmerican soldier he barricades himself in his parents' oldapartment waiting for the police contingent which, so he thinks,will take him to the border. This time of waiting is a time fullof memories, anxiety, anger, silence and despair.Biondi calls Abschied der zerschellten Jahre a Novelle. TheGerman Novelle is the offspring of one of the earliest literaryexchanges between Italy and Germany. The first cycle of Novellen written in Germany was Goethe's Unterhaltunqen deutscher Ausqewanderter (1795) which is an adaptation of Boccaccio's IiDecamerone (1349-1353). It is difficult to find a generaldefinition for the German Novelle, which, according to MartinSwales, is characterized by "hermeneutic unease ... which castsdoubt on the validity of the social universe as traditionallydefined and inhabited" (207). What appears to be its most40generic feature, however, is the unexpected turn of the eventwhich it describes. Goethe, in one of his conversations withEckermann (29.1.1822), defines the Novelle as "eine sichereignete unerhOrte Begebenheit." According to Benno von Wiese,unerhOrt in Goethe's understanding of the word means 'not yetheard of,' that is 'new,' rather than 'extraordinary' as themodern usage of the word unerhOrt suggests (Wiese 5). There aresome other essential characteristics that the majority of theNovellen seem to share. In the Novelle, as becomes obvious fromGoethe's definition, the event is of greater importance than thecharacters or their emotional development. With its stress onthe unexpected and unpredictable, the structure of the Novelle implies the tension between the ordinary and familiar ofeveryday life and the sudden interruption of the flow of events.Consequently, the turning point of the events is the point fromwhich the narrative structure of the Novelle is organized. Manytheorists of the Novelle have been particularly interested indiscussing the turning point.The frame is another common characteristic of the Novelle.In the novellas that adopt the Boccaccian model, the frameserves to define the narrative situation: a disintegratingsociety is held together by the telling of novellas. The frameusually establishes a connection with the society of which theaudience or reading public is a part. As von Wiese points out:"...zur Novelle gehOrt vor allem, dag sie innerhalb einerGesellschaft erzdhlt wird und daS sie im Rahmen der dsthetischen41und ethischen Magstabe dieser Gesellschaft bleibt" (4)•2 Therelative brevity of the Novelle and its straightforwarddevelopment to the turning point asks for condensation andstylisation. Characters and objects often take on symbolicfunction, and some novellas make abundant use of leitmotifs.Biondi undermines the traditional structure of the Novelle by beginning his narrative with the turning point and placing itin the opening frame. The framed story, which provides thebackground for Mamo's shooting of a policeman, aims to show thatit is not the desperate deed of an adolescent that representsthe "unerhOrte Begebenheit"--it is the socio-politicalcircumstances that should be called "unerhOrt." In displacingand replacing certain narrative components of the traditionalNovelle, Biondi deterritorializes it, that is, he literallyremoves it from its original space and gives it a differentfunction. In this re-writing process, Biondi obviously had onespecific Novelle in mind: Gottfried Keller's Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe (1855), one of the most popular German Novellen.Keller's text is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet (1597) and Goethe's version of the story of the two "star-crossed lovers" in Hermann und Dorothea (1797). Romeo and Juliet dramatizes, among other things, the conflict between thebourgeois claim for individual love and the demands of anaristocracy with an outmoded code of honour. In Romeo und Julia 2 ...it is an essential characteristic of the Novelle thatit is told within a society and that it remains within theaesthetic and ethical standards established by this society.42auf dem Dorfe Gottfried Keller describes the destructive impactof bourgeois values on an agrarian community.Keller tells the story of the young lovers Vrenchen andSail who commit suicide since society denies them the right toget married to each other. At the beginning of the novella theirfathers Manz and Marti are working in peaceful harmony in theirfields. Their property is separated by a fallow stretch of landwhich does not seem to belong to anybody and has become aplayground for the two children. The children's fathers knowthat a vagrant musician and tinker called the Schwarze Geiger(the Dark Fiddler) is heir of the property, but they do not wantan outsider to receive the right of domicile: UT haben sogenug zu tun, diesem Geiger das Heimatsrecht in unserer Gemeindeabzustreiten, da man uns den Fetzel fortwahrend aufhalsen will.Haben sich seine Eltern einmal unter die Heimatlosen begeben, somag er auch dableiben..." (64).3 The fiddler himself cannotprove his identity. He has no money, no country, no right ofdomicile and claims that if only they would grant him hisproperty he would sell it and use the money to emigrate. Intacit agreement Manz and Marti each cut off a furrow of thefield and treat it as their own. Meanwhile the town of Seldwyladecides to put the field up for an auction. Greed consequentlypoisons the relationship of the two men. Both claim to have a3 ...we are busy enough to refuse this fiddler the right ofdomicile in our community since they keep trying to land thatscoundrel on us. Once that his parents chose to become homelesshe might just as well stay with it....43right to the piece of land and turn into mortal enemies. Theirproperty is eaten up by the costs for the lawyers andconsultants whom they engage to fight for their cause. WhenVrenchen and Sali meet for the first time as adults who discovertheir love for each other, Vrenchen's father follows themstealthily and attacks Vrenchen in a violent fit. Sali, in orderto protect her, hits him on the head with a stone which turnsthe old man into an idiot. The lovers feel that this accidenthas made their marriage impossible. Furthermore, the Swiss lawof the time did not permit marriage between people without anypossessions. The young people decide to spend their last andonly day together at a village fair and at a dance among thepoor in the evening. They celebrate their wedding night on a hayship floating towards Seldwyla where their drowned bodies arefound in the morning.Biondi adopts the theme of the two lovers who cannot gettogether because society and its values interfere. The father ofMamo's German girlfriend does not approve of the relationshipsince Mamo is the son of a Gastarbeiter. Mamo is too ashamed todiscuss the impending deportation ("Abschiebunq") with her. Forhim the deportation is a sign of personal failure:Er traute sich nicht. Nicht well er den Mut nicht gehabthatte, so glaubte er, so redete er sich em, sondern weller sich zutiefst sch,amte. Er schamte sich ungeheuerlich,daS ihm sowas tiberhaupt zustoSen konnte; und daS es vonseinen Freunden, ja vielleicht von Dagmar selbst als sein44Versagen gedeutet werden kOnnte. (102)4Dagmar suggests that they leave together for his country oforigin and get married. Mamo, however, does not believe in a newstart, since he knows that he will neither find a job nor everfeel at home in his parents' country. Furthermore, to leaveGermany would mean to escape and Mamo refuses to run away oncemore: "Was sie vorschlug, roch für ihn namlich wieder nachFlucht. Er wollte aber nicht mehr fliehen. Nie mehr" (107).5 Healso realizes that Dagmar does not understand him. Everybody,including Dagmar, regards him as an "Auslander" (a foreigner).Mamo, however, feels that Germany is where he belongs. SinceMamo knows that he speaks German like a native and that manyGermans do not fit the blue-eyed and blonde stereotype either,6he believes that what drives people to ask these questions is anurge to categorize the other and to find clichés and stereotypesconfirmed:Auch wenn er eine andere Nationalitat hatte, war das dennso wichtig? Und bei dem Klima, das in diesem Landherrschte, schuf eine solche Frage nicht eine noch grOgereTrennungslinie? EinenAbgrund? Haben diese Fragenden solcheFragen nicht deshalb gebraucht, um sich auf die Personen4 He didn't dare. Not because he lacked the courage, so hethought, so he tried to convince himself, but because he feltdeeply ashamed. He was terribly ashamed, that something likethat could happen to him and that it could be interpreted by hisfriends, maybe perhaps even by Dagmar, as his failure.5 What she was suggesting smelt of escape. But he did notwant to escape anymore. Never again.6 It is curious in this context that Keller, with subtleirony, describes Vrenchen with "eine braunliche Gesichtsfarbeund ganz krause dunkle Haare" (63) that makes her akin to thedark complexioned Schwarze Geiger.45einzustellen? Nation X Staunen und Einstellung der Blickeauf Exotik? Und Nation Y vielleicht Blickstufe Mitleid? UndNation Z äffnung der Blende auf Bewunderung? Und bei Nation0 das Abwenden der Kamera? (82)7Keller's Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe and Biondi'sAbschied der zerschellten Jahre both describe the conflictbetween the individual and the state. This conflict isheightened by the power of human prejudice. Biondi changes thetheme of a mutually planned and desired suicide to mereimplication. Since Mamo and Dagmar do not understand eachother's needs, their suicide is only suggested between the linesbut never considered as a real possibility:Und sie filgte hinzu: Wenn alle Stricke reigen, kOnnen wirauch woanders hingehen. Er wollte fragen: Was meinst dudamit?... Vielleicht verstand Dagmar Mamo besser, als erglaubte; vielleicht hatte sie seine Andeutungen richtigverstanden, und sie redete sich deshalb den Mund wund.(110)8Their inability to understand one another and their alienationfrom each other in this final conversation, show that Keller'sversion of the old story, harmony and union in death if not inlife, is not a valid model for an Italian migrant writing in7 Even if he had a different nationality, was it all thatimportant? Considering the climate in the country, did such aquestion not create an even fiercer dividing line? An abyss?Didn't those who asked him the question ask such questions inorder to prepare themselves for the person they ask? Nation Xastonishment and focus on exotic? And nation Y perhaps focus onpity? And nation Z open the aperture to admiration? And fornation 0 turn away the camera?8 And she added: If all else fails, we can also go to someother place. He wanted to ask: What do you mean?.. .PerhapsDagmar understood Mamo better, than he thought; perhaps shereally understood what he had been hinting at, and that is whyshe kept talking till she was blue in the face.461984 Germany.Biondi leaves the end of the Novelle open.9 Keller wasinspired to write his Novelle by a newspaper report in theZUricher Freitaqszeitung. This report makes no moral judgementson the lovers' suicide. Keller ends the text with an ironicparaphrase of this report. In the Seldwyl newspapers, so Kellerwrites, one could read that this suicide was a sign of aspreading moral depravation and the unruliness of passion ("einZeichen von der um sich greifenden Entsittlichung undVerwilderung der Leidenschaften" [128]). This kind of ironicperspective criticizes the hypocrisy and false morality ofsociety. Biondi adopts a similar strategy of changing thenarrative perspective. Towards the end of the story Biondipresents the reader with a multiplicity of perspectives onMamo's shooting of the policeman and the events that led up toit. While Mamo is firing his shots into the crowd of people,the Bundeskanzler is giving a speech on TV regarding the"Feirderunq der RUckkehrbereitschaft"n in which he encouragesthe Germans to practice more tolerant behaviour towards theguest workers and their families. Mamo imagines the headlines ofnext day's newspapers: Last interview with the assassin! His9 Biondi explained in a letter to me (December 12, 1990)that he intended the end of the story to be understooddialectically as describing undesirable yet existing conditions.n FOrderunq in this context something like support andencouragement. RUckkehrbereitschaft is one of the many words inGerman immigration politics which cannot be translated smoothlyinto English. It means as much as readiness to return to thehome country.47motives and his reasons. On the penultimate page of the book thesocial worker, who was summoned by the police, retrospectivelytells Mamo's story to a friend giving it thereby still anotherperspective.It is important to keep in mind that in both Keller's andBiondi's texts, the bone of contention is space: the fieldbetween the two others in Keller and the apartment in Biondi.Keller shows that peasant society is doomed as soon as it makescontact with the materialistic values of the city. Bionditransforms this description of a clash between two value systemsfor his own political purposes. Abschied der zerschellten Jahre reveals the injustice of the "Ausldnderqesetze." Biondi'sNovelle intends to show that (what used to be) West Germany isa multicultural society, although the law and political actionrun counter to any attempts at integrating the secondgeneration.Biondi refuses to give Mamo a specific ethnic identity.When asked about his nationality Mamo answers: "Ansonsten binich aus dem Niemandsland ... genauso wie der Odysseus vor demZyklopen; bekanntlich hat er vor dem Zyklopen Niemand geheigen,um seine Haut zu retten. Genau dasselbe geschieht auch mit mir"(83).11 Mamo's ethnicity is defined by what it is not: "Der istn Otherwise I am from no man's land ... just as Ulyssesstanding in front of the Cyclops; as you know he was calledNobody standing in front of the Cyclops, in order to save hisskin. The same happens to me.48ja kein 'Nike," (43)12 somebody points out in his defense. SinceMamo does not identify with his parents' ethnic background, hehas no ethnic memory. The old man Costas serves as a surrogateethnic memory in the text. He is also a surrogate father forMamo. Costa's country of origin also remains unidentified; it issomewhere in the Mediterranean. Costas spends most of the daysitting in the court yard staring, so it seems to those passingby, at the wall. When Mamo asks him what he keeps looking at,Costas explains in a stylized German that is very different fromthe vehicular or referential language that he is trying torecover his country's story, a story that was interrupted bymass emigration. In the old times, explains Costas, people usedto sit together at night and somebody would tell a story. Costastells Mamo a novella about the abuse of power and victimization.Later he explains that his fishing village--an agrariancommunity with a strong oral literary tradition--was destroyedby an unscrupulous businessman who deprived the village of itsindependent economic base and turned it into a cheap touristresort. As in Keller's Novelle, the advent of industrialism andcapitalism has a devastating impact on the agrarian community.With Mamo's story Biondi dramatizes the loss of the vernacular,the failure of communication and the loss of a personal story.Costas' novella disrupts the flow of the narrative dealingwith Mamo's fate. His novella represents another culture withanother way of life. It is the Other reclaiming its space. Just12 He is not a Turk.49as the uncultivated strip of land in Romeo und Julia auf demDorfe, which is reclaimed by weeds and shrubs, lies between thetwo cultivated fields, Costas' novella is surrounded bydeterritorialized prose and spills over its boundaries byrepeatedly interrupting Mamo's story. Costas' "poetic" use ofthe German language clashes with the bureaucratic language, thelanguage of the city and the state. His voice reterritorializessymbolically the space that was lost to his people.Although the "Wildnis" (wilderness)fl takes over in Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe and ridicules law and order, the lovershave internalized the values of bourgeois society to such anextent that they cannot live together without being married.Therefore, the only choice they have is to commit suicide. InAbschied der zerschellten Jahre Costas' stories cannot preventMamo's death. Keller's young lovers cannot live in"Niemandsland" (no-man's-land) as symbolized by the uncultivatedstrip of land, and Mamo refuses to return to the no-man's-landof his origin. Mamo does not kill a Tybalt nor does he strike atDagmar's father, whom, ironically, he has never met. Mamo killsan official representative of the country that refuses tofunction as his Vaterland (father country).The image of the heart as a leitmotif pervades Biondi'sNovelle. The motif appears first when Mamo demonstrates hisshooting skills at the shooting gallery on the fairground:n "Wild," "verwildert," "Verwilderunq" are keywords ofKeller's Novelle. They are opposed to "sauber," "artiq,""ordentlich" and "grade."50Die Schiegbude zog ihn an wie emn Magnet, nicht weil mandort nur ballern konnte ... sondern weil auf Karten mitdrei roten Herzen geschossen wurde. Drei rotedickgezeichnete Herzen. Ubereinander, das oberste war amgrOZten und das mittlere am kleinsten. Darunter standgeschrieben: 'Je Herz 1 Schug.' (59)14After Mamo wins twice in a row, the owner of the gallery offerssome proverbial wisdom: "Gute SchUtzen sind wie Liebende, beidetreffen ins Herz. n15 When Keller's lovers spend their lastafternoon at the country fair, Vrenchen buys Sali a gingerbreadheart which has a proverb written both on the front and theback.16 Throughout the Novelle Biondi uses an abundance ofidiomatic and metaphorical phrases with the word 'heart' at thecentre in order to reveal the hollowness and hypocrisy of suchlanguage. Metaphorically, when Mamo takes aim at the heart ofthe policeman he is firing at the heart of the German language.In his essay "Die Fremde wohnt in der Sprache" Biondi writes:"Ein In-Frage-Stellen der Sprache als Instanz der Mehrheit hatmich immer mehr in der Auffassung bestarkt, dag die Fremde nichtso sehr in dem Menschen wohnt, der aus der Fremde kommt; prima"IA The shooting gallery attracted him like a magnet, notjust because one could shoot there ... but because the targetswere cards with three red hearts. Three red highlighted hearts.On top of each other, the top one was the biggest and the one inthe middle the smallest. Underneath was written: "One shot perheart."15 Good marksmen are like lovers, both hit the heart....16 The two proverbs are: "Ein silger Mandelkern steckt in demHerze hier, Doch stiger als der Mandelkern ist meine Lieb zuDir!" and "Wenn Du dies Herz gegessen, vergig dies SprUchleinnicht: Viel eh'r als meine Liebe mein braunes Auge bricht!"(115).51wohnt sie in der Sprache selbst" (31).1' In this essay Biondidescribes his fascination with the etymology of words and thechanges of their meaning through ideologicaldeterritorialization and reterritorialization. Biondi claimsthat for him, writing in German does not mean to write in aforeign language but to write in "opposition to" the"foreignness" (Fremde) in the language: "Ftir mich heigt es alsonicht: Schreiben in fremder Sprache. Sondern: Ich mOchte gegendie Fremde in der Sprache anschreiben" (32).18 In theory and inpractice, Biondi dedicates himself to deterritorializing andreterritorializing the German language. Biondi calls thisendeavour "in Widerspruch zur besetzten Sprache schreiben" (towrite in opposition to the occupied language) He does this bydefamiliarizing dead metaphors, slogans, jargon, and proverbs.19In Abschied der zerschellten Jahre, for instance, a17 A questioning of the language of the majority asauthority has increasingly confirmed my belief that foreignnessdoes not dwell as much in the person who comes from foreignlands as it does in language itself.18 Therefore I would not say: To write in a foreignlanguage. But: I would like to write up against the foreignnessin the language.19 George Steiner writes in "The Hollow Miracle," in whichhe describes the gradual deterioration of the German language:"A language shows that it has in it the germ of dissolution inseveral ways. Actions of the mind that were once spontaneousbecome mechanical, frozen habits (dead metaphors, stock similes,slogans). Words grow longer and more ambiguous. Instead ofstyle, there is rhetoric. Instead of precise common usage, thereis jargon. Foreign roots and borrowings are no longer absorbedinto the blood stream of intrusion. All these technical failuresaccumulate to the essential failure: the language no longersharpens thought but blurs it." (96)52multiplication of proverbial expressions can be found within asingle sentence which pushes the tolerance of everyday speechfor such language material to its very limits. By changing oneword in an idiomatic expression, Biondi defamiliarizes the wholephrase whereby he resuscitates its earlier and more literallevels of meaning. Language becomes "double-voiced. ,20Furthermore, Biondi seeks a multicultural identity within theGerman language: "Gegenwartig interpretiere ich daher meinenBezug zur deutschen Sprache so, dag ich darin einemultikulturelle Identitat suche, jenseits der nationalen undkulturellen Schranken, die mit einer Sprache verbundensind"(30) •21 He demonstrates, for example, how words of Yiddishorigin22 are, ironically, still alive in contemporary German--20 Victor Turner claims: "...in liminality people 'play'with the elements of the familiar and defamiliarize them.Novelty emerges from unprecedented combinations of familiarelements" (60).n Presently I see my connection to the German language inthat I am trying to find a multicultural identity in it, beyondthe national and cultural barriers, which are associated with alanguage.n I am referring to words such as "Schlamassel" and"piesacken." Mamo remembers a graffiti saying: "Warten auf dieKristallnacht." His interior dialogue continues: "Zunachst warer betroffen und erschrocken, dann hatte er sich gesagt: 1stscheige [sic], die Nazis sind gar nicht an der Macht. Und die,die am Hebel sitzen, die brauchen solche plumpen, groben Sachennicht, die machen es anders, wenn sie jemanden vertreiben" (91-92). Biondi echoes Kristall in Kristallnacht--a technique headopts from Paul Celan--in Mamo's stream of thoughts: "Erdachte, und sie vielleicht auch, dag ihre Beziehung wie emnwunderschOner, aber sehr empfindlicher Kristall ware, derbehutsam behandelt werden milisse" (94). In a letter to me(27.4.91) Biondi pointed out that he highly admires Celan forhis use of language.53most native speakers of German are unaware of the provenance ofthese words--whereas the words of American origin areconspicuously alien elements.23Biondi is one of the founding members of the PolynationaleLiteratur- und Kunstverein. This organization was founded inFrankfurt in 1980 to further the cultural cooperation of thevarious ethnic minorities in Germany in order to give them astronger presence within the German literary and artistic scene.Its founding members included the Italian writers and artistsFranco Biondi, Gino Chiellino, Vito d'Adamo, Guiseppe Giambussoand Carmine Abate and some writers of Syrian and Lebanesedescent such as Rafik Schami, Suleman Taufiq and Jusuf Naoum.The aim was to create a polynational awareness and createmulticultural forms of expression with German serving as alingua franca and referential language, the language of culture.The founding of the Polynationale Literatur- und Kunstverein canbe interpreted as an attempt "to express another possiblecommunity and to forge the means for another consciousness andanother sensibility" (Deleuze and Guattari 17). Biondi's refusalto give Mamo or Costas any specific ethnic identity has to beseen within this context. The fact that a specific ethnic group,and in particular the Italian, is absent from the text issignificant. I would like to argue, however, that Biondi'sItalian background is a constitutive factor in the production of23 I am thinking here of words such as "shooten,""verpowern," and "player."54Abschied der zerschellten Jahre. In his Novelle, Biondireterritorializes a genre that made its way from Italy toGermany with Goethe's adaptation of Boccaccio. In re-writingKeller's Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe he also reterritorializesa story that Shakespeare first adopted in his tragedy fromItalian novellas.Italy was the first country with which the Germangovernment came to an agreement on labour exchange in 1955.24The number of Italian migrant workers in Germany was for manyyears the second largest. As early as 1975 the AssociazioneLetteraria Facolta Artistiche, a group founded by severalItalian migrant writers, started to systematically collect textswritten by fellow Italian migrants which they then published intheir own periodical called Ii Mulino and in severalanthologies. Poetry by Italian migrants also appeared in thenewspaper Il Corriere d'Italia (Frankfurt) and Incontri, abilingual monthly magazine published in Berlin. In 1984, theyear in which Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle appeared,only a member of an ethnic minority group that was alreadyrelatively well established in German society and had broughtforth the largest group of writers, would have wanted todispense with ethnic identification and to metaphoricallyreclaim literary territory.24 Italian migrant workers have also had a different statusin Germany right from the beginning since Italy founded theEuropean Economic Community in 1957 together with Belgium,France, Germany, Holland and Luxembourg.55Living Second-Hand: Trânen sind immer das Ende: Roman Akif Pirincci's Tramen sind immer das Ende: Roman is fictionalautobiography posing as a novel. The novel is written in thefirst person by the eighteen-year-old protagonist Akif Pirincci.Like the author, Akif was born in Turkey and emigrated toGermany with his parents when he was eight years old. Tranensind immer das Ende is a re-writing of Plenzdorf's Die neuen Leiden des jungen W. (1973) which in turn is an adaptation ofGoethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers (1774). By referringdirectly to Goethe's novel at the same time, Pirinccitriangulates between the two texts. There are a number ofsignificant similarities and differences between Pirincci's andPlenzdorf's novels which are worth exploring.'Whereas the seventeen-year-old Edgar Wibeau runs away fromMittenberg to Berlin in order to become a painter, Akif leaveshis small-town home for Cologne to write detective plays. Bothnovels are variations of the Ktinstlerroman. Furthermore, the twoauthors, like their eighteenth-century model--and Abschied der zerschellten Jahre: Novelle and its literary forebear for thatmatter--combine the theme of unfulfilled love with a critique ofsociety. Both protagonists refuse to pursue a "respectable"1 Die neuen Leiden des juncien W. appeared at first in aprose version in Sinn und Form in 1972. The text of the noveldiffers slightly from the original text. The dramatic version,which was staged shortly after the first appearance of thetext, was a theatrical sensation because of its politicalfrankness.56career. Just as Werther condemns the "fatalen blargerlichenVerhaltnisse" (the unfortunate bourgeois circumstances [443])and the "Einschrankung . in welcher die tatigen undforschenden Krafte des Menschen eingesperrt sind," (thelimitation ... which is imposed upon the active and inquiringfaculties of mankind [388-389]) Edgar criticizes certain aspectsof East German socialist ideology and Akif the West German workethic and bourgeois conformism. Tranen sind immer das Ende andDie neuen Leiden des jungen W. also share some characteristicsof the picaresque novel, which has always been a medium tocriticize society. Like Mamo, Akif and Edgar are outsiders. Notonly do they come from lower-class families but they are alsorepresentatives of ethnic minorities: Edgar's ancestors wereHuguenots and Akif is the son of a Turkish Gastarbeiter.The picaresque is more strongly developed in Tranen sind immer das Ende. Akif is surrounded by dropouts. The two men withwhom Akif has the most regular contact are his neighbour Knacki,recently released from jail, who suggests that Akif prostitutehimself in order to make some money, and Laszlo, a Hungarianemigre, who hates the Germans and seeks solace in alcohol.Laszlo teaches Akif how to avoid paying for food and drinks inrestaurants and bars. Procuring food usually plays an essentialpart in the picaro's life. Akif takes stock of his deprivedsituation:Ich hatte fast aberhaupt kein Geld und keinen Job. Nurdieses lacherliche Acht-Quadratmeter-Zimmer mit Blick aufden verwahrlosten Hinterhof, wo man nur aberladeneMUlltonnen und Kinder sah, die Krieg und Frieden spielten.57Auch das Arbeitsamt rUckte nichts raus, da ich bei dieserFilmproduktion nur vier Monate gearbeitet hatte. Ichbefiirchtete wirklich, zu verhungern, was sich spater auchals die Wahrheit herausstellen sollte.2 (85)Akif's eight-square-metre room with a view of the decrepitbackyard is a travestied version of the Gartenlaube (summerhouse) where Edgar hides after his arrival in Berlin and whichbecomes the playground for Charlie's children. On his first dayat work several men introduce themselves as Akif's Meister (superiors) which makes him wonder whom he is supposed to serveand, in picaro fashion, he decides only to serve himself.Both Edgar and Akif fall in love with women who are a fewyears older and well integrated into society. Charlie is akindergarten teacher who marries shortly after Edgar meets her,and Christa, whom Akif calls a "Bargermadchen," comes from asheltered middle-class home and is a law student. Edgar and Akifjoin the workforce after having met Charlie and Christa. Edgarbecomes a member of a house painters' brigade and Akif astagehand at the Cologne Opera. At their work places they bothmeet ersatz father figures who take them under their wings. TheBohemian Spanish Civil War veteran Zaremba--another outsider ofsociety--protects Edgar from the brigadier and Hassan the Turk,the most experienced member of the "Tiirkenkolonien (117) at the2 I was almost broke and didn't have a job. Just this lousyeight-square-metre room with a view of the desolate backyardwhere only overflowing trash cans were to be seen and kidsplaying war games. And the employment exchange didn't dish outany money either, because I had only worked for this filmcompany for four months. I was worried I might starve, which,later turned out to be true.58Opera, tries to make life easier for Akif.There are two major differences in plot developmentbetween Plenzdorf's and Goethe's texts on the one hand andPirincci's on the other. Akif does not compete with another manfor Christa's love. In contrast to the more innocent love bothin Goethe's and in Plenzdorf's novel--if one disregards the onedecisive kiss both in Goethe and Plenzdorf--Akif and Christahave a sexual relationship which lasts for a few months untilChrista breaks it off. The other major difference concerns theending of Tranen sind immer das Ende. While Werther and Edgardie without achieving a balance between individual and communalidentity, Akif, after an aborted suicide attempt and a week inhospital feels the strong desire to write his story. The picarois a survivor.Werther's and Edgar's rivals Albert and Dieter arecontrast figures. Whereas Werther is a character modelled afterthe protagonists of the English sentimental novel who indulgesin his feelings, despises pedantry and seeks the union of selfand nature, Albert is rational and industrious. And while Edgaris irreverent and creative with a good portion of self-irony,Dieter, as rational as Albert, is a conformist without a senseof humour. As much as they are attracted to Werther and Edgar,Lotte and Charlie opt to stay with the men who are a part ofsociety. In Tranen sind immer das Ende, the woman, instead ofbeing merely the object of the protagonist's desire, is a morecomplex character and plays a more active part. Christa, the59ambitious law student, is part of the conformist studentgeneration of the late 1970s, which was more interested in self-analysis than in political action. Akif dislikes Christa'suniversity friends and criticizes them for their self-satisfiedand conformist attitudes. Christa ends the relationship withAkif because, in her opinion, there are worlds between them("Wir beide leben in getrennten Welten" [168]). In Tranen sindimmer das Ende the issue of class difference does not dissolveas easily as in Eichendorff's Aus dem Leben eines Taugenichts:Akif does not get his "anmutige Pfeirtnerstochter" (213). Akif'sexclusion from Christa's world echoes the clash between nobilityand bourgeoisie in Goethe's novel. Although Graf von C. andFraulein von B. both feel an affinity of mind and soul toWerther, they are not prepared to compromise the social orderfor his sake. Akif is aware of the social difference betweenhimself and Christa:Ich brauchte das Geld, allein Gott weiS wie sehr, sah aberauch nicht em, warum ich taglich acht Stunden meineskostbaren Lebens in dieser dumpfen Hölle verschwendensollte. Ich war verzweifelt und zugleich machtlos. ZumSchreiben kam ich wegen dieser Angelegenheit und wegenChrista Uberhaupt nicht mehr. War das das Ende? Dumme,schwere, vernichtende Arbeit? Gleichzeitig wuSte ich, daSes auch mit Christa nicht mehr so weitergehen wUrde, wennes tatsachlich so weiterging. Sie eines Tages Richterinoder Anwaltin und ich emn bekloppter Holzkopf von einemBUhnenarbeiter. Das paste hinten und vorne nicht zusammen!Sekretarin zu Christa: 'Frau Born, da ist em n Herr von derMUllabfuhr'. 'Nein, nein, das ist doch mein Ehemann!'33 God knows how much I needed the money. But I didn't seewhy I should be wasting eight hours of my precious life in thisdull hell day after day. I was desperate and powerless at thesame time. I didn't even have the time to write any more becauseof this and Christa. Was this the end? Stupid, hard, crippling60(149-150)Werther resigns from his post with the ambassador because workwithin the absolutist regime does not give the Burger theopportunity to apply his talents and skills in a self-fulfillingmanner.4 Edgar leaves his apprenticeship since work life in EastGermany does not allow for individualism. Likewise, Akif blamescircumstances for preventing him from dedicating himself towriting.While Plenzdorf, through Edgar, criticizes the role ofeducation and work training in East Germany as a tool ofconformism, education in Trdnen sind immer das Ende is satirizedas a commodity and the basis of careerism. One of the firstquestions Christa asks Akif is whether or not he has a highschool diploma. He explains to her "dag [er] vom Gymnasium aufdie Realschule und von dort aus auf die Volksschule geflogenwar" (that [he] was demoted from the Gymnasium to the Realschule and from there to the Volksschule [39]). Akif criticizes theemphasis on rote learning in favour of critical thinking("dieses ewige, sinnlose Lernen und Pauken" [39]) in theclassroom. He also blames the "faschistoiden BUrgerkinder,"work? At the same time I knew that it couldn't go on withChrista the way it had, if it would at all. She, a judge orlawyer one day and me a stupid blockhead of a stagehand. Thatdidn't go well together at all! Secretary to Christa: "FrauBorn, there is a gentleman from the trash collection." No, no,that's my husband!"4 See Arnold Hirsch, "Die Leiden Des Jungen Werthers. EinBUrgerliches Schicksal Im Absolutistischen Staat," Etudes Germanigues 13.3 (1958): 229-250.61taking it out on teachers who are Handers," (different) for hisfading interest in school. The text suggests that as a Turk inGermany, that is, an outsider, Akif is predestined for a menialjob. On signing his work contract Akif concludes: "Hiermit wurdeich also emn richtiger Arbeiter, was mein Vater mir seit meinerKindheit prophezeit hatte und wovor er mich mit allen Mitteln zuschUtzen versucht hatte" (93).5 Hassan discourages Akif fromtaking the job: "'Sohn, das 1st keine Arbeit air dich. Nicht ftireinen jungen Menschen. Die Oper macht dich kaputt, das Mist duhier nicht aus. Schau mich an, Sohn! Ich arbeite seit siebzehnJahren hier. So sieht emn Mann aus, der seit siebzehn Jahrenhier arbeitet'" (120-121).6 It is ironic that labour behind thescenes in the service of culture should have such a debilitatingeffect. Later, when they drink together in a pub whose patronsare only Turks ("wo nur TUrken soffen" [185]), Hassan suggeststhat Akif return to Turkey, marry his daughter and take care ofhis goats. This allusion to Akif's Turkishness, as many othersin the book, ironically subverts the ethnic stereotype. Theunhappy return of a Gastarbeiter to his home country is a5 I became what my father had predicted since I was a kidand had always done his utmost to protect me from becoming: aworker.6 "Son, that's no work for you. Not for a young man. Theopera kills you. You won't be able to take it. Look at me, myson! I've been working here for seventeen years. That's what aman looks like who has been working here for seventeen years."62recurrent theme in German migrant literature.' The reader knowsthat the return to Turkey is no solution for Akif. Furthermore,the mostly non-Turkish reading audience finds itself in aposition of knowing Akif better than his countryman. It takes,after all, a stretch of the imagination to picture thestreetwise and well-read Akif among the goats in the Turkishcountryside.At the beginning of the book, Akif meets Christa in adiscotheque, an allusion to the ball in the countryside whereWerther meets Lotte. Akif introduces himself as Akif from Turkeyanticipating Christa's compliments on his German:'Hast du meinen Namen eben nicht mitbekommen?"Nein."IchheiSe Akif. Bin TUrke, weiSt du,' antwortete ich ungeheuernattirlich. Ich wartete nun auf das 'Du kannst aber sehr gutDeutsch.' Und es kam prompt."8 (8)Like Mamo in Abschied der zerschellten Jahre, Akif neitheridentifies with his ethnic background nor does he feel German:"Im Grunde fUhle ich mich gar nicht als TUrke, aber auch nichtals Deutscher. Ich schwanke nicht einmal so in der Mitte.7 See, for example, Gianni Bertagnoli's Arrivederci, Deutschland! (1964), Franco Biondi's Passavantis Rtickkehr: Erzahlungen (1976/1985) and Carmine Abate's Den Koffer und weq! (1984). Joseph Pivato explores the return journey as a recurrenttheme in Italian-Canadian literature in "The Return Journey inItalian-Canadian Literature," Canadian Literature 106(1985):169-76.8 "Didn't you get my name a minute ago?" "No." My name isAkif. I'm a Turk, you know," I said extremely naturally. Iwaited for the "Your German is very good." And it came promptly.63Wahrscheinlich bin ich gar nichts" (9).9 Throughout the book,however, he continues to self-ironically call himself a Turk.With the strategy of Othering himself, he undermines the thrustof stereotypes by anticipating them and turning them againsttheir perpetrators. This self-ironic identification with anethnic group which elicits automatic prejudice, parallelsEdgar's repeated critical self-references such as "ich Idiot,""wie emn VerrUckter," and "ich Spinner." With these self-accusations Plenzdorf travesties the socialist maxim of publicself-criticism. Edgar's aversion to public self-criticismcontributes to his decision to leave his apprenticeship afterthe confrontation with his supervisor: "Ich hatte was gegenSelbstkritik, ich meine: gegen Offentliche" (15). One of themain characteristics of Akif's language is its comic effect.This effect is partly achieved by the unexpected combination ofwords and ideas which often verges on the macabre. Exaggerationand hyperbolic expression contribute to the comic effect as wellas self-deprecating irony. Whenever Akif speaks about himself orrefers to a part of his body he uses either obscenities ordisparaging terms, as if he were holding up a mirror to societyand reflecting its response to a Turkish school dropout withouta respectable job.Migrant literature in Germany before 1980 could best bedescribed as what Franco Biondi and Rafik Schami refer to as9 I actually don't feel like a Turk, but not like a Germaneither. I don't even stagger in the middle. Probably I'mnothing.64"Literatur der Betroffenheit" ('literature of affliction' or'literature of the affected'). The majority of this literatureconsists of first-person accounts of homesickness, suffering,victimization and alienation. Conditions under which themigrants live and questions of identity are its major themes.According to Biondi and Schami "Gastarbeiterliteraturun was tofunction as "Selbsthilfe zur Verteidigung der Identitat" (Self-help as a means of defense of one's identity [133]). The twoauthors claim that affliction creates solidarity, since allmigrant workers are subjected to dislocation and discriminationno matter where they come from. In these texts, which foregroundthe experience of the 'I,' immigrant experience is constructedwithin the conventions of poetry, autobiography and realistfiction. Authenticity is the final criterion. Toward the end ofTranen sind immer das Ende, Akif announces that after hisunsuccessful suicide attempt he decided to write his story down.In the process, so Akif claims, he rarely followed the rules ofthe men of letters: "Hierbei habe ich mich sehr selten an diegoldenen Regeln der Literaten gehalten und Sachen getan, die mannicht tun darf, wenn man emn gutes Buch schreiben will" (255).11n Biondi and Schami use the term "Gastarbeiter" self-consciously in order to expose the irony within it: "DieIdeologen haben es fertiggebracht, die Begriffe Gast undArbeiter zusammenzuquetschen, obwohl es noch nie Gaste gab, diegearbeitet haben." (The ideologues managed to shove together theterms guest and worker, although there have never been guests,who worked [134-135]).11 In the process I have rarely followed the golden rules ofthe men of letters and I've done things which one shouldn't dowhen one wants to write a good book.65The golden rules are an allusion to Werther's claim: "Man kannzum Vorteil der Regeln viel sagen, ungefähr was man zum Lobe derbUrgerlichen Gesellschaft sagen kann. ... dagegen wird aber auchalle Regel . . das wahre Gefidhl von Natur und den wahrenAusdruck derselben zerstOren" (391).n Akif's coming of age isconstructed in terms of the decision to write his personalstory. In doing so he becomes a writing subject within aliterary tradition that originated in Germany, namely theBildungsroman, which turns into a picaresque novel in Tranen sind immer das Ende. While the traditional hero of theBildungsroman completes his quest for self-definitionsuccessfully, Tranen sind immer das Ende, by comparison, endswith Akif's confession that he has not learned his lesson:Nun ist es also an der Zeit, mich vom Stuhl zu erheben unddurch diese TUr da in mein neues und hoffentlichglUckliches Leben hineinzumarschieren. Allerdings mug ichmich diesmal selbst fragen, was ich damals im Regen Christagefragt habe: Wie geht das, Leben?n (256)The last thing Akif does before leaving Cologne is to take histelevision to the pawnshop--an act which can be interpreted asthe author's tongue-in-cheek comment on Akif's attempt at a more"authentic" and less mediated life in the future.Just as Plenzdorf breaks with the tradition of socialistn One may say much in favour of the rules, perhaps what onemay say in praise of bourgeois society. ... any rule, however,will destroy the true feeling of nature and the true expressionof it.n The time seems to have come now to get up from my chairand to march through this door into my new and hopefully happylife. This time, however, I need to ask myself what I once, inthe rain, asked Christa: How does that go, life?66realism by constructing his novel as a montage of third-personinterviews, retrospective first-person narrative and directquotations from Goethe's Die Leiden des jungen Werthers,Pirincci self-reflexively subverts the authentic and realisticdiscursive practices of migrant writing in West Germany.Intertextuality becomes oppositional strategy. Edgar usesWerther's claims for individual self-fulfillment, his "Werther-Pistole," in order to shock those around him who pledgeallegiance to the system and to unmask their conformistbehaviour. The difference between Plenzdorf's and Pirincgi'sstrategy becomes obvious in their protagonist's attitude towardJ.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye (1951), a text to whichboth authors are indebted in addition to Goethe's novel. Edgarparticularly cherishes Holden's story because nobody recommendedthe book to him:Meine zwei LieblingsbUcher waren: Robinson Crusoe.... Dasandere war von diesem Salinger. Ich hatte es durch purenZufall in die Klauen gekriegt. Kein Mensch kannte das. Ichmeine: kein Mensch hatte es mir empfohlen oder so. BloSgut. Ich hatte es dann nie angefagt. Meine Erfahrungen mitempfohlenen Rachern waren hervorragend mies.' (33)Since the cover of Goethe's novel was destroyed, Edgar has noidea who its author is. Furthermore, even after having memorizedthe passages of the text that appeal to him most, Edgar does notdiscard it. On the contrary, he gets used to carrying it around,My two favourite books were: Robinson Crusoe.... Theother one was by this guy Salinger. It got into my clutches bysheer coincidence. Nobody had heard of it. I mean: nobody hadrecommended it to me, or something. Good thing that. I wouldnever have touched it. My experience with recommended books wassplendidly rotten.67tucked under his shirt. By contrast, Akif's friend recommendedThe Catcher in the Rye to him. After having memorized it, hethrows it away:Genauer gesagt, immer, wenn ich an Rolf dachte, dachte ichgleichzeitig an dieses Buch. Er hatte es mir damals sehrempfohlen, und ich las es und war schlichtweg begeistert.Ich las diesen Roman so oft, bis ich ihn eines Tagesauswendig konnte und wegschmiS.' (70)Just as Edgar's and Akif's attitudes toward "borrowed"texts differ, so do their authors'. Whereas Plenzdorf quotesdirectly from Goethe, Pirincci drops names and absorbs bits andpieces of "world literature" into his own text. Toward the endof the novel, when Akif comes to identify more and more with theFrankenstein-Monster, he disowns "die gesamte positiveWeltliteratur, die man sich in der Not zwangsweise reinwilrgte"(the whole positive world literature, which, for lack ofanything better, one forced down one's throat [213]) inpreference to the genre of gothic and horror. At his lastmeeting with Christa, which takes place in a pizza parlour, sheorders a glass of lemonade which annoys Akif since it ridiculesthe tragic atmosphere: "Wie soll man da tragische Sâtzeaufsagen! Immer wenn ich dieses Scheigglas mit der piSgelbenFlassigkeit drin vor mir sah, verging mir die Lust am 'Werther'-15 To be precise, whenever I was thinking of Rolf, I wasalso thinking of this book. He had highly recommended it to meand I read it and was simply thrilled. I read this novel so manytimes that I knew it by heart one day and threw it away.68spielen" (44) .16 For Akif Werther is just another role.Goethe mirrored Werther's fate in several characters. Thisis paralled by Plenzdorf's and Pirincci's reference tocharacters from literature and the movies17 with whom Edgar andAkif identify. By constructing potential models ofidentification from various contexts, Pirincci undermines thediscursive construction of the migrant's experience as authenticand exclusive. In prescribing alienation and dislocation as themajor themes of migrant literature lies the danger of itsmarginalization. In order to come of age, migrant literatureneeds to embrace themes other than coping with the separationfrom home and the conditions of (work) life in Germany. Thetitle of Pirincci's novel, which, according to Akif is aquotation from Allen Ginsberg, travesties the indulgence inemotions in Die Leiden des jungen Werthers which findsexpression in the language of Empfindsamkeit (sensibility).Tears flow freely in Trdnen sind immer das Ende and Akifbelieves in the cathartic effect of a good cry. This uninhibitedshow of emotions ironically contradicts his earlier affirmation16 How then is one supposed to recite tragic sentences!Whenever I saw this goddam glass with the piss yellow liquid infront of me, I did not feel like playing Werther any more.3.7 Akif's favourite film is Citizen Kane with whoseprotagonist he identifies. If he should ever succeed in becominga film maker, Akif muses, he would like to make films such asSingin' in the Rain, It's a Wonderful Life, Bringing up Baby,The Big Sleep, Big Sky and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (50). Edgar's favourite movies are those featuring CharlieChaplin and "'Junge Dornen' mit Sidney Poitier" (38). It isinteresting to note that both Plenzdorf and Pirincci studiedfilm.69that "TUrken waren in der Regel hartgesottene Manner" (Turksgenerally are hard-baked men [168]). At the same time this flowof tears can be understood as burlesque and a humorous refusalto perpetuate the image of the migrant as "afflicted." Byrepeatedly comparing himself to heroes from movies andliterature and his life to the plot of a Harlequin novel, Akifdenies all claim to authenticity:Millionen und Abermillionen von Liebenden gingen irgendwannaus irgendwelchen dramaturgischen Regeln auseinander ...und alle vergossen beim Abschied eimerweise Tranen. Dochausgerechnet ich, das personifizierte Sinnbild allenLeidens, ich, die lebendiggewordene Kunstfigur sdmtlicherKitschromane, ja gerade ich arme Sau war nicht in der Lage,zu weinen. An Lust fehlte es mir nicht, nur an Kraft. Ichwar des Weinens imade.18 (225)Whereas Goethe and Plenzdorf intended to describe a collectiveexperience illustrated by an individual incident, Pirinccipresents Akif's sufferings as constructed and second-hand.Language in the three texts is a major factor inestablishing a common ground with the reader. All three textsappeal frequently to the reader's sympathy and understanding.The second half of the eighteenth century experienced a changein the understanding of how language works.19 The reliability oflanguage to adequately convey emotions was questioned. A scene18 Millions and billions of lovers have separated at somepoint for some dramaturgical reason ... and all of them shedbuckets full of tears when saying goodbye. But I of all people,the personified symbol of all suffering, I, the contrivedliterary figure of all Harlequin novels, yes, I poor devilwasn't able to cry. I didn't lack the desire but the energy. Iwas tired of crying.19 See, for example, Johann Gottfried Herder and Wilhelm vonHumboldt.70from Die Leiden des jungen Werthers illustrates Goethe'spreoccupation with the limitations of language. When the suddendownpour of rain after a thunderstorm comes as a relief, Wertherand Lotte express their love for each other by spontaneouslyrecalling Klopstock's name. The evocation of the name of thepoet who inaugurated the language of Empfindsamkeit in Germanyis the most effective way of expressing what they are feeling:... sie sah gen Himmel und auf mich, ich sah ihr Augetranenvoll ... und sagte-Klopstock!- Ich erinnerte michsogleich der herrlichen Ode, die ihr in Gedanken lag, undversank in dem Strome von Empfindungen, den sie in dieserLosung -Ether mich ausgog. Ich ertrug's nicht, neigte michauf ihre Hand und ktigte sie unter den wonnevollstenTranen.n (404)Goethe resorts here to metaphors of water and the word Strom(stream), in particular, to capture the nuances of the couple'semotions. Plenzdorf concludes his novel with an explanation forEdgar's death: "Nach dem, was die Ârzte sagten, war es eineStromsache" (According to what the doctors said, it was a matterof current [148]). The German word Strom signifies not only'stream' but also 'electrical current.' Although Edgar's deathmay have been directly caused by high voltage, the deeper causeis to be found in problems of communication, differing valuesand lack of understanding. Peter Wapnewski points out that EastGerman literature in the 1970s propagated a new subjectivism inn ... She gazed up to the sky and then at me. I saw hereyes fill with tears ... and she said-Klopstock!- I at oncerecalled the heavenly ode which was the subject of her thoughts,and sank into the stream of sentiments which she poured over mewith this name. I could not bear it, inclined toward her handand kissed it while shedding the most blissful tears."71rebellion against the work ethic and regimentation (539).Werther speaks of the well-established ("die gelassenen Herren")as those sitting on both sides of the river trying to containthe potentially dangerous force of the stream with dams. LikePlenzdorf, Pirincci adopts Goethe's images of the stream toexpress problems of communication and the ideological gulfbetween those who conform and those who do not. On the last pageAkif concludes that Christa now stands on the opposite side ofthe stream ("auf dem gegentiberliegenden Ufer" [256]) and that heis tired of swimming: "Und weil ich keine Kraft mehr besitze,habe ich auch nicht die geringste Lust, zu schwimmen. Ichglaube, ich kann gar nicht schwimmen. Und ich glaube, ich werdemein Leben lang nicht mehr schwimmen kOnnen" (256). 21Both Plenzdorf and Pirincci use a spoken, conversationalGerman that is suffused with slang expressions to characterizeEdgar's and Akif's diction. This technique takes it for grantedthat the reader is familiar with this type of language, if notthe numerous allusions. The reader is treated as an accomplice.It is here where both authors are most indebted to Salinger.Critics have often commented on the authenticity of Holden's andEdgar's language. Christa's surprise at Akif's/Akif Pirincci'sfluency in German will most likely be shared by many Germanreaders. Franco Biondi writes from outside of the German21 And because I don't have any strength left, I also don'thave any desire to swim anymore. I believe I can't swim at all.And I believe that for the rest of my life I won't be able toswim anymore.72language, whereas Pirincci writes from the inside. Biondi'sobjective is to write against "die Fremde" (alienness) that isinherent in language by, in turn, making it "alien," that is bybreaking grammatical rules and placing words in unfamiliarcontexts. As he puts it in the concluding sentence of his essay"Die Fremde wohnt in der Sprache,": "...diese Art zu schreibendrUckt anders aus und spricht doch von demselben" (this modeof writing •.. expresses differently and still speaks of thesame [32]). Pirincci, on the other hand, shocks by usingfamiliar expressions to suggest something else. The book opens,for instance, with the description of the discotheque where Akifmeets Christa: "Der Kasten hieg (und heigt immer noch) "Treff"und war tiberfUllt wie Dachau" (The joint was called "Treff" [andstill is] and was as packed as Dachau [5]). Akif describes hisfellow students' attempt to take it out on one of their teachersas "[sie] haben ihn mit diesem 'Eumel' gehanselt bis zumVergasen" (they teased him with this "Eumel" until they wereblue in the face [39]). "Bis zum Vergasen" which cannot betranslated literally into English refers to gassing of victimsin the concentration camps. The expression is still widely usedin contemporary German and the younger generation is oftenunconscious of the origin of the phrase. Christa casts anAuschwitz-like glance ("einen auschwitzahnlichen Blick") at Akifwhenever they are at odds, and thinking about his deterioratingrelationship with her, Akif can suddenly see the "EndlOsung," aword which apart from conjuring up images of mass murder also73"playfully" alludes to the title of the book. By repeatedly,apparently innocently, referring to concentration campatrocities, Pirincci demonstrates how language, and in this caseparticularly the German language, can be (and has always been)manipulated and abused. By drawing the parallel between NaziGermany and the 1980s, he also points out that xenophobia in theFederal Republic of Germany is still rampant.Like Franco Biondi, Pirincci writes both from within andagainst a dominating literary and cultural tradition, which isDeleuze and Guattari's definition of a "minor" literature.Pirincci's writing against, however, takes on a form that isdistinguished from Biondi's. Not only does he write against theestablished discursive practices of migrant experience inGermany, but by constructing the Turkish migrant as picaro healso "writes back" to a literary form which became very popularin Germany after the second World War.22 By giving Werther's andEdgar's story an open rather than a fatal end, Pirincciillustrates one of the picaresque novel's main conclusions:freedom can only be understood as individual opposition andresistance.23 The fact that Akif manages to save his life bymaking the essential call from a public phone and that he22 Thomas Mann's Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull (1951), Giinther Grass' Die Blechtrommel (1959) and HeinrichBoll's Ansichten eines Clowns (1963) are the best knownexamples.23 See Ronald Blaber and Marvin Gilman's book on thepicaresque, a genre they find well-suited to the expression ofopposition in post-colonial societies.74subsequently tells his story confirms how vital it is to breakthe silence.Migrants from Turkey, unlike those from Italy, used to bea particularly silent minority in Germany and it was not untilthe 1980s that novels by Turkish authors were published, usuallyby small publishing houses. Unlike most Italian writers inGermany, the majority of Turkish authors did not write in Germanwhich retarded their literary recognition. Akif Pirincci has aspecial status among Turkish writers in Germany. His threenovels to date have been published by mainstream publishers, butparadoxically he has been widely ignored by critics workingwithin the field of German migrant literature. His work does notfit into the picture. His second novel, Felidae (1989), is adetective novel whose protagonist is a cat. The protagonist ofhis recent novel Rumpf (1992) was born without arms and legs andcommits the perfect murder. This work is a macabre hybrid of thedetective and picaresque novel. Pirincci seems as much apicaresque figure as his avatar and mouthpiece Akif, a misfit inthe German literary landscape.75Chapter Two: Versions of the Female Migrant Short Story CycleThe Multicultural Department is a Canadian invention. It issupposed to ensure that ethnic cultures are able toflourish, so that Canadian society will consist of a mosaicof cultures--that's their favourite word, mosaic- insteadof one uniform mix, like the American melting pot. If youask me, mosaic and melting pot are both nonsense, andethnic is a polite way of saying bloody foreigner.(Rohinton Mistry, Tales from Firozsha Baaq)Margin, however, has another meaning which I prefer to holduppermost in my mind, when I work as a member of twogroups--Blacks and women--traditionally described asmarginal. That meaning is "frontier." Surely this meaningis encapsulated in Williams' phrase "emergent energies andexperiences which stubbornly resist" the dominant culture.The concept of frontier changes our perception of ourselvesand the so-called mainstream. (M. Nourbese Philip,Frontiers)Living in the Borderlands:' Sandra Cisneros' The House on Mango Street (1984)Being migrants to and indigenes of the United States2 at thesame time, the Chicanos' situation is very different from thatof other migrant groups. Although the terms "Chicano" and"Mexican-American" are often used synonymously, "Chicano" is thename Mexican-Americans prefer giving to themselves because ofits political and cultural implications. The term Chicano was1 I am adopting this term from Gloria Anzald-da'sBorderlands/La Frontera. The New Mestiza (1987) where shedescribes the U.S.-Mexican border as "una herida abierta wherethe Third World grates against the first and bleeds. And beforea scab forms it hemorrhages again, the lifeblood of two worldsmerging to form a third country-a border culture" (3).2 After the Mexican War (1848), the Mexican territory northof the Rio Grande, that is the present states of California,Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and half of Colorado, becamepart of the United States.76appropriated by political activists during the 1960s to showsolidarity with the farm workers. Literary critic Juan Bruce-Novoa uses the term "Chicano" to refer to "all people of Mexicanheritage living permanently in the United States. Some aremonolingual in English or Spanish, but most find themselves ona sliding scale of interlingualism based on a Spanish/Englishmixture" (Bruce-Novoa 75). Raymund A. Paredes suggests a muchmore inclusive definition in the literary context that isreminiscent of Eli Mandel's definition of the "ethnic text":"Chicano Literature is that body of work produced by UnitedStates citizens and residents of Mexican descent for whom asense of ethnicity is a critical part of their literarysensibilities and for whom the portrayal of their ethnicexperience is a major concern" (Paredes 74).Chicanos/Chicanas exist between two cultures. They havedrifted away from Mexican culture but have not been fullyintegrated into American society, partly because of their ownresistance to assimilation and partly because of Anglo-Americanracism. Chicanos/Chicanas have been creating a literature thatmerges characteristics from their Indian, Spanish, and Anglo-American heritage. Gloria Anzaldida remarks:When not copping out, when we know we are more thannothing, we call ourselves Mexican, referring to race andancestry; mestizo when affirming both our Indian andSpanish (but we hardly ever own our Black ancestry);Chicano when referring to a politically aware people bornand/or raised in the U.S.;  Raza when referring to Chicanos;tejanos  when we are Chicanos from Texas. (63)The position of a Chicano/Chicana writing in English in the77United States, no matter if he/she lives in the rural Southwestor in a barrio in Chicago, is different from the Europeanmigrant writing in an adopted language in New York, Edmonton orCologne. Deleuze and Guattari's concept of a minor literatureneeds to be modified within the context of Chicano/Chicanaliterature. Of the three features of a minor literature,emphasis on politics and collective value not only apply but arean essential aspect of Chicano/Chicana literature.Deterritorialization, however, which refers to the migrant'sseparation from the homeland as well as the severance of thesignifier from the signified in his/her language does notdescribe the experience of most contemporary Chicanos/Chicanas.The Chicano/Chicana mode of experience and expression is theborderland .3In the 1980s an impressive number of Chicana writersentered the scene creating new images of Chicana women. Theyhave been tackling the questions of gender and female sexualitythat used to be widely ignored by their male predecessors. Bornto a Mexican immigrant father and a Chicana mother, SandraCisneros spent most of her childhood in the Mexican community ofChicago. However, the family was "constantly moving back andforth between Chicago and Mexico City due to my father's3 See Renato Rosaldo, "Politics, Patriarchs, And Laughter."Rosaldo suggests "that the creative space of resistance forChicanos be called the border, a site of bilingual speech"(Rosaldo 67). Emily Hicks explores the implications of "borderwriting" in her article "Deterritorialization and BorderWriting."78compulsive 'homesickness'" ("From a Writer's Notebook" 69). TheHouse on Mango Street is a collection of interrelated shortstories based on autobiographical experience. In "From aWriter's Notebook. Ghosts and Voices: Writing from Obsession,"Cisneros describes the obstacles she had to overcome in findingher own voice as a writer. She speaks about the difficulty oftrusting a voice that she acquired at home growing up with anEnglish-speaking mother and a Spanish-speaking father in aworking-class environment. Cisneros claims that the poor cannotafford to write "by inspiration," but "write by obsession" aboutthat "which is most violently tugging at [their] psyche" ("Froma Writer's Notebook" 73). In Chicana literature everything ispolitical and everything takes on a collective value in Deleuzeand Guattari's sense.The majority of the forty-four short stories of The House on Mango Street fill only half a page and are poetic in style,transgressing the boundaries of prose and poetry. Cisneroscomments:I recall I wanted to write stories that were a crossbetween poetry and fiction ... Except I wanted to write acollection which could be read at any random point withouthaving any knowledge of what came before or after. Or, thatcould be read in a series to tell one big story. I wantedstories like poems, compact and lyrical and ending with areverberation. ("From a Writer's Notebook" 78)These prose poems are related to each other through the narratorEsperanza Cordero, a tomboyish Chicana girl of ten or twelve.They are also linked by a common theme: the position of girlsand women in Latino society. Women's experience depicted in the79collection ranges from domestic violence to incest and rape. Thesetting of The House on Mango Street is a barrio that isinhabited by Latinos/Latinas and is located in a run-down areaof an American city. Cisneros writes from a Chicana feministperspective dedicating her book bilingually: "A las Mujeres. Tothe Women." Although mainstream feminism and Chicana feminismshare the perspective on questions of gender and sexuality,there are differences between them with regard to issues ofrace, culture and class. The Chicana's experience as a womancannot be separated from her experience as a member of anoppressed working-class racial minority.An even more important issue for most contemporary Chicanawriters is finding and asserting their identity within their ownculture. They face the double bind of reconciling their loyaltyto their Mexican heritage while standing up for their rights aswomen. The culture described by feminist Chicanas in theirliterature is male-dominated and misogynist. Cisneros focuses onthe sexism that is evident in Chicano culture and the negativeattitudes toward female sexuality which is often bound withissues of class. Racism is not a major issue in the cycle.Unlike many works written by Chicanos a decade earlier, TheHouse on Mango Street does not focus on the oppression andhumiliation which Chicanos are subjected to in a predominantlywhite world. The ethnic boundaries in The House on Mango Street are such that the Anglo-American world does not directly intrudeinto the barrio, as described in "Those Who Don't":80Those who don't know any better come into our neighborhoodscared. They think we're dangerous. They think we willattack them with shiny knives. They are stupid people whoare lost and got here by mistake. (29)The boundaries of the barrio could well serve as a protection ifthe enemy were not within. Cisneros not only depicts women asvictims, but she also shows how girls and women perpetuate therole models assigned them by patriarchy. She describes the clashbetween the male and the female rather than that between theAnglo-American and the Chicano world. She is not interested inthe male hero torn between two cultures, which was the majortopic of Chicano literature in the 1960s and 1970s, but thesocialization of a young Chicana within the barrio and withinthe community of women, some of whom serve her as guides in herrites of passage.The link between the stories is also established throughthe recurrence of some minor characters. Characters that appearin several stories are Esperanza's younger sister Nenny, and herslightly older friends Marin, Alicia and Sally, who, becausethey are more streetwise, pass their experience on to her. Theshort story cycle, or "short story sequence" as Robert M.Luscher prefers to call it (Luscher 149),4 is a genre favouredby many migrant writers, women writers in particular. The cycleis so attractive to minority writers because it is an ideal form4 Luscher argues that Forrest Ingram's term short storycycle "draws attention to the recurrence of theme, symbol, andcharacter, but does so at the expense of deemphasizing thevolume's successiveness" (149).81to express the dialectic between the single unit and the whole,between independence and interdependence. Forrest Ingramobserves:Central to the dynamics of the short story cycle is thetension between the one and the many. When do the manycease being merely many and congeal into one? Conversely,when does a 'one' become so discrete and differentiatedthat it dissolves into a 'many?' Every story cycle displaysa double tendency of asserting the individuality of itscomponents on the one hand and of highlighting, on theother, the bonds of unity which make the many into a singlewhole. (19)Ingram's observations uncannily conjure up notions of thetension between unity and pluralism in monocultural andmulticultural paradigms such as the American melting pot, wherepeoples of diverse ethnic backgrounds supposedly merge to makea new people and the Canadian mosaic, where ethnic groupsfunction as part of the whole while retaining theirdistinctiveness. For the reader the cycle also poses a task inperspectivism. The stories are linked in such a way "that thereader's experience of each one is modified by his experience ofthe others" (Ingram 13). Each of the stories could stand byitself, but receives additional meaning when seen within thecycle.The House on Mango Street, like Caterina Edwards' TheLion's Mouth and Angelika Fremd's Heartland, is among otherthings a girl's coming-of-age story and a portrait of the artistas a young woman. Although most of the stories are presentedthrough Esperanza's eyes, and it is she who will eventuallyleave the barrio in order to become a writer, her experience is82not represented as unique. Marin, Alicia and Sally shareEsperanza's experience of growing up in a working-class milieuthat is characterized by male dominance. The maturing process ofthe girls is defined by disillusionment and violence. This is acommunal rather than an individual experience. As in mostcoming-of-age stories, Esperanza's maturing process is linked tofirst sexual awareness. However, Esperanza is not granted thefeeling of freedom that so often is the result of first sexualencounters in boys' coming-of-age stories. Cisneros depicts asociety which does not respect a woman's spiritual and physicalboundaries. In "The First Job" Esperanza talks to "an olderOriental man" who suggests that they could be friends and sit inthe lunchroom together. Esperanza observes:He had nice eyes and I didn't feel so nervous anymore. Thenhe asked if I knew what day it was and when I said I didn'the said it was his birthday and would I please give him abirthday kiss. I thought I would because he was so old andjust as I was about to put my lips on his cheek, he grabsmy face with both hands and kisses me hard on the mouth anddoesn't let go. (52)Descriptions of cultural oppression are hardly ever absent froma Chicano novel. Chicanas, however, focus on the "borderlands,"or "liminal" space, of women's everyday experience in a worldthat is defined by domestic violence and male oppression.Esperanza's maturing process advances through the stages of herwatching other girls being abused by men and by eventually beingraped herself. In her poetry Esperanza finds a way of expressingthe pain of growing up as well as her anger.Although varieties of the Ktinstlerroman are privileged by83a wide range of migrant writers of various ethnic backgrounds,for Chicanos/Chicanas to find their own voice in writing is anessential means of preserving tradition in the Chicano communitywhich is immersed in another culture. Unlike that of themajority of the European migrants to the New World, theChicanos' cultural and literary tradition is oral. In textswritten by women in which the question of female identity isintertwined with the exploration of cultural history, finding avoice and breaking the silence is an even more essentialsurvival technique. Contemporary Chicanas re-write aspects ofthe literature written by Chicano men thereby scrutinizingcultural parameters and reinterpreting them from their ownperspective. In some ways The House on Mango Street is a woman'sre-writing of stories that deal with the experience of coming ofage from both the Anglo-American and Chicano tradition as wellas of critical texts that espouse male ideology, as I will showlater on.' At the same time The House on Mango Street entersinto a dialogue with works by fellow women writers of colour,such as Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior: Memoirs of a Girlhood Among Ghosts (1976).6 The mestiza, says Anzaldda,'There are allusions to Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio (1919) and James Joyce's Dubliners (1914) as well as of TomasRivera's Y no se lo trag6 la tierra (1970) in Cisneros' text.Ellen McCracken draws attention to echoes from Gloria Naylor'sThe Women of Brewster Place and Pedro Juan Soto's Spiks inaddition to those from Anderson's and Rivera's short storycycles.6 In an interview with Reed Dasenbrock, Cisneros points out:"I love Maxine Hong Kingston. The Woman Warrior--what awonderful book that was for me. That gave me permission to keep84learns to "juggle cultures" (79).In "My Name" Esperanza talks about her name which meanshope in English and "too many letters" in Spanish. "It was mygreat-grandmother's name and now it is mine. She was a horsewoman too, born like me in the Chinese year of the horse--whichis supposed to be bad luck if you're born female--but I thinkthis is a Chinese lie because the Chinese, like the Mexicans,don't like their women strong" (12). People born in the Chineseyear of the horse are said to be headstrong and anxious tomaintain their independence--traditionally masculine attributes.The official Chicano culture is male-centered and has its rootsin vaquero' culture. Horsemanship, courage and endurance arethose cultural values celebrated in the literature of theChicano Renaissance. The warrior hero in this literaturerepresents a figure of resistance to Anglo-American domination.8For Esperanza, however, the horse woman is above all an image ofresistance to male domination:My great-grandmother. I would've liked to have known her,a wild horse of a woman, so wild she wouldn't marry untilmy great-grandfather threw a sack over her head and carriedher off. Just like that, as if she were a fancy chandelier.That's the way he did it. And the story goes she neverforgave him. She looked out the window all her life, theway so many women sit their sadness on an elbow ... I haveinherited her name, but I don't want to inherit her placegoing with what I'd started with House on Mango Street" (303).7 Vaquero is the Spanish word for 'cowboy.'8 For an interesting discussion of the treatment of thefigure of the warrior hero in Americo Paredes, Ernesto Galarzaand Sandra Cisneros see Renato Rosaldo, Culture and Truth: The Remaking of Social Analysis.85by the window. (12)"My Name" is an allusion to the first section in The Woman Warrior called "No Name Woman," which tells the story of thenarrator's aunt in China whose name the family tried to forgetsince she was bearing an illegitimate child. The entirecommunity and her family reviled her although it was very likelythat she was the victim of rape. Both Kingston's protagonist andEsperanza identify with these female ancestors. Whereas the malewriter has the traditional heroes to identify with, the femalewriter is hampered by the heritage of patriarchal myths in asociety which excludes her from a wide range of experience. WhatEsperanza longs for is a feminine space:Not a flat. Not an apartment in back. Not a man's house.Not a daddy's. A house all my own. With my porch and mypillow, my pretty purple petunias. My books and my stories.My two shoes waiting beside the bed. Nobody to shake astick at. Nobody's garbage to pick up after. Only a housequiet as snow, a space for myself to go, clean as paperbefore the poem. (100)"A House Of My Own" echoes not only Virginia Woolf's plea "fora room of her own" but also Maxine Hong Kingston's observationthat privacy is unknown to Chinese women.9 Cisneros points outthat Gaston Bachelard's La Poetique de L'Espace (1957) inspiredher to write her own philosophy of domestic space:... a house, a house, it hit me. What did I know exceptthird-floor flats. Surely my classmates knew nothing about9 In The Woman Warrior she writes: "Not many women got tolive out the daydream of women-to have a room, even a section ofa room, that only gets messed up when she messes it up herself.The book would stay open at the very page she had pressed flatwith her hand, and no one would complain about the field notbeing plowed or the leak in the roof" (72).86that. That's precisely what I chose to write: about third-floor flats, and fear of rats, and drunk husbands sendingrocks through windows, anything as far from the poetic aspossible. (73)The first two chapters of La Poetigue de L'Espace represent awhite middle-class man's phenomenology of the house. Not so manywomen own houses. And it is not the typical experience of theaverage Chicana to grow up in a house. Bachelard concludes:Mais comment donner au ménage une activite creatrice? Desqu'on apporte une lueur de conscience au geste machinal,des qu'on fait de la phenomenologie en frottant un vieuxmeuble, on sent naitre, au-dessous de la douce habitudedomestique, des impressions nouvelles. La consciencerajeunit tout. Elle donne aux actes les plus familiers unevaleur de commencement. Elle domine la mei-noire. Quelemerveillement de redevenir vraiment l'auteur de l'actemachinal! (73)When read against this passage, it becomes clear that The House on Mango Street does not express Esperanza's materialisticdesire to own a house but needs to be read as the attempt toreterritorialize women's space. The house becomes a metaphoricspace of the female self. In "Elenita, Cards, Palm, Water"Esperanza wants to know if she will ever own a house. Thefortuneteller tells her that she sees "a home in the heart"(64). Woman needs to become her own house in which she can beself-confident and free of fear.The barrio is on the one hand a manifestation of ethnicghettoization; on the other, it has been mysticized by someChicano poets and critics, among them Tomas Rivera who claimsthat la casa, el barrio and la lucha are "constant elements inthe ritual of Chicano literature" (Rivera 441). Rivera87investigates the significance of these three concepts for theChicano community. To illustrate the cultural meaning that theconcepts carry he quotes from poetry written by well-knownChicano poets--none of them women. He writes: "La casa is to methe most beautiful word in the Spanish language. It evokes theconstant refuge, the constant father, the constant mother"(Rivera 441). The barrio, the homeground of the community,nourishes, "conserves" and "cleanses" the poet (445). And lalucha "is a struggle of cultures, dignified and undignified, astruggle of man and that which he creates, a struggle to tearaway one's own masks and discover oneself" (448). Just as shedoes with Bachelard's phenomenology of male space, Cisnerostransforms the male ideology behind this argument into afeminist practice in her text. The house Esperanza will own oneday will be a communal space:One day I'll own my own house, but I won't forget who I amor where I came from. Passing bums will ask, Can I come in?I'll offer them the attic, ask them to stay, because I nowhow it is to be without a house. (81)When woman has a house of her own, she does not need to keep themadwoman in the attic but can feel free to invite whomever shewants. Cisneros shows that the barrio that Rivera celebrates asthe Chicano's space of community and autonomy does not have thesame implications for the Chicana. It is a threatening spacewhere male violence is an ever present reality. 10 peranza's10 an interview with Pilar E. Rodriguez Aranda, Cisnerospoints out: "I wrote it [The House on Mango Street] as areaction against those people who want to make our barrios looklike Sesame Street, or some place really warm and beautiful.88barrio, the space of the community, that nourishes heraspiration to become a writer, is the world of women. Herparalyzed aunt Guadalupe encourages her to become a writer:"That's nice. That's very good, she said in her tired voice. Youjust remember to keep writing, Esperanza. You must keep writing.It will keep you free..." (56). Esperanza, just like Cisneros,finds her literary voice through her own "borderland" experienceand that of other Chicanas. At a baby girl's wake, three wiseold women predict her future as a writer. In "The ThreeSisters"- las comadres ask her to make a wish and assure her itwill come true. Then one of them takes Esperanza aside:She held my face with her blue-veined hands and looked andlooked at me. A long silence. When you leave you mustremember always to come back, she said. What? When youleave you must remember to come back for the others. Acircle, understand? You will always be Esperanza. You willalways be Mango Street. You can't erase what you know: Youcan't forget who you are.... You must remember to comeback. For the ones who cannot leave as easily as you. (98)Unlike many initiation stories written by male authors inwhich the young male protagonist needs to set himself apart fromthe community in order to be able to be a writer and to freehimself from the milieu he grew up in, Esperanza will have tocome back to fulfill the artist's mission, that is, be a modeland support for the community of women. In "Beautiful and Cruel"Esperanza declares her own "quiet war," her way of keeping up laPoor neighborhoods loose [sic] their charm after dark, theyreally do" (69).11 The title is reminiscent of James Joyce's "The Sisters"in Dubliners.89lucha, her struggle at the frontiers of gender: "I have begun myown quiet war. Simple. Sure. I am one who leaves the table likea man, without putting back the chair or picking up the plate"(82). Just as Esperanza's struggle transgresses the borders ofgender, Cisneros rejects the dominant culture's definition ofwhat a Chicana woman is and what role behaviour she is expectedto conform to.A recurrent motif with symbolic significance in The House on Mango Street is that of shoes and feet. In ancient times,shoes denoted liberty. And in China feet were bound to hinderwomen from moving around freely. In "The Family of Little Feet,"Esperanza and her friends dress up in some discarded high-heelshoes and walk around the barrio:Hurray! Today we are Cinderella because our feet fitexactly and we laugh at Rachel's one foot with a girl'sgrey sock and a lady's high heel.... Down to the cornerwhere the men can't take their eyes off us. We must beChristmas.Mr. Benny at the corner grocery puts down his importantcigar:Your mother know you got shoes like that? Who give youthose?Nobody.Them are dangerous, he says. You girls too young to bewearingshoes like that. Take them shoes off before I call thecops, but we just run....Across the street in front of the tavern a bum man on thestoop. Do you like these shoes?Bum man says, Yes, little girl. Your little lemon shoes areso beautiful. But come closer. I can't see very well. Comecloser. (38-39)At first flattered by the male attention, the girls eventuallybecome aware of the potentially violent nature of male power.The story also portrays the competition between girls/women for90the attention of men. Parading down the street the three friendspass a group of girls who are obviously jealous of the stirwhich the three caused. There are two categories of girls andwomen in the stories. Those who comply with the patriarchalsystem are characterized as having "tiny feet" and wearingsuitably feminine shoes, for instance Mamacita in "No SpeakEnglish" and Sire's girlfriend in "Sire" who wears make-up, but"doesn't know how to tie her shoes." And then there are thosegirls like Esperanza who are not prepared to "wake up early withthe tortilla star" (32) and make the lunchbox tortillas. In"Chanclas"12 Esperanza is wearing her new dress for a dance buther mother forgot to bring her new shoes. She is very self-conscious about her "old saddle shoes" which she wears toschool, "brown and white, the kind I get every September becausethey last long and they do" (45). But eventually she dancesconfidently and happily with her Uncle Nacho forgetting she iswearing ordinary shoes. Women, according to The House on Mango Street cannot be themselves until they stop trying to lookbeautiful for men.Marin, the protagonist of several stories, will be sentback home because she is "too much trouble" (27). Marin knowstoo much for her age, her skirts are shorter than those of theother girls, she smokes and is not afraid. Marin is named afterDona Marina or La Malinche, the Indian lover of Hernán Cortés12 Chanclas is the Mexican word for 'old broken shoes.'Cisneros does not translate richly culture-bound words such asfrijoles, los espiritds, comadres into English.91and mother of his illegitimate children. Malinche, the MexicanEve who betrayed her people, is a symbol of the Spanishconquest. Her rape led to the defeat of the Indians and thebirth of the mestizo/mestiza race.fl Contemporary Chicanas havebeen re-writing Malinche's story in their works from a feministperspective.14 As Robert Kroetsch points out, the re-writing ofmyths and stories "is often an attempt at healing" ("The Grammarof Silence: Narrative Patterns in Ethnic Writing" 69).Another type of woman that has been mythicized in Chicanoliterature written by men is the curandera, the healer or whitewitch. The most famous example is Ultima in Rudolfo Anaya'sBless me, Ultima (1972). These women are usually depicted asbodyless widows or spinsters. Cisneros' Elenita in "Elenita,Cards, Palm, Water," on the other hand is a being of flesh andblood who needs to reconcile witchcraft with her householdchores:Elenita, witch woman, wipes the table with a rag becauseErnie who is feeding the baby spilled Kool-Aid. She says:take that crazy baby out of here and drink your Kool-Aid inthe living room. Can't you see I'm busy? Ernie takes thebaby into the living room where Bugs Bunny is on T.V. (59)Along with the re-writing of myths goes their demystification.15In her humorously debunking style Cisneros claims that women don See the introduction to "Chicana Writers" in The ThirdWoman: Minority Women Writers of the United States (310)14Years:MarinaAngela15See, for example, Cherrie Moraga's Loving in the War lo que nunca pease) por sus labios (1983), Lucha Corpi'sPoems, Carmen Tafolla's poem "La Malinche" (1978) andde Hoyos poem "La Malinche a Cortez y viceversa" (1980).See McCracken.92it every day. This casts an ironic light on male authors'tendency to romanticize and mythicize some female characterswhile branding others as whores.One of the recurrent figures in Chicano literature writtenby men is the Chicano represented as outsider in Anglo-Americansociety. Cisneros makes the point that women have been doublyalienated. Chicanas have not only been oppressed, excluded andalienated by Anglo-American culture but also by their own, aculture that idealized woman as the centre of family life. Anyrole outside of that narrow sphere was not only censured butmost often refused her. Cisneros like other Chicana writersshows how women have been denied education and the right, thetime and the space to find self-fulfillment in art. In "A SmartCookie" Esperanza tells her mother's story:I could've been somebody, you know? my mother says andsighs. She has lived in this city her whole life. She canspeak two languages. She can sing an opera. She knows howto fix a T.V. But she doesn't know which subway train totake to get downtown.... Then out of nowhere: Shame is abad thing, you know. It keeps you down. You want to knowwhy I quit school? Because I didn't have nice clothes, butI had brains. Yup, she says disgusted, stirring again. Iwas a smart cookie then. (83-84)Women who were granted their own kind of education and allowedto perform their craft, most notably the curanderas, weretreated as outsiders and were depicted as such by male authors.The Chicana artist is torn between her role as a woman andher aspirations as an artist. In order to become a writer,Esperanza needs to rebel against traditional role expectationsby transgressing the borders of gender. Esperanza needs to be93"selfish" as she refers to her wish to become a writer. Shecalls herself "born bad"16 and she thinks. "I am an uglydaughter. I am the one nobody comes for" (82). On the other handshe longs to grow into a woman, as shown in "Hips" and forsexual fulfillment: "Everything is holding its breath inside me.Everything is waiting to explode like Christmas. I want to beall new and shiny. I want to sit out bad at night, a boy aroundmy neck and the wind under my skirt" (70). Whereas the artisthero, as Maurice Beebe observes, tends to be "sensitive,""passive," "introverted" and "absentminded" (Beebe 5),Esperanza, like many of her sisters in other femaleKiinstlerromane is adventurous, fearless and spirited. Sally, who"got married like we knew she would, young and not ready butmarried just the same" (95) represents Esperanza's conventionalfeminine foil. Esperanza's name, unlike Sally's, sounds heroic:"she's special" observes one of the comadres. In order to freeherself and fight for the rights of women, Esperanza needs toestablish a sense of communion with other women, create a"circle," as one of the comadres tells her to do. Not the barrio and the male literary tradition but the synchronic anddiachronic community of women provides the homeground thatnourishes the Chicana writer. The Chicana has been driven fromher body as much as she has been excluded from owning space andhaving access to education and writing. In "The Laugh of theSee the short story of the same title which echoesKingston's rhetorical question: "Isn't a bad girl almost a boy?"94Medusa," where she explores the possibilities of ecriture feminine, Helene Cixous emphasizes the importance for women towrite the body:Woman must put herself into the text--as into the world andinto history--by her own movement.... It is by writing,from and toward women, and by taking up the challenge ofspeech which has been governed by the phallus, that womenwill confirm women in a place other than that which isreserved in and by the symbolic, that is, in a place otherthan silence. Women should break out of the snare ofsilence. They shouldn't be conned into accepting a domainwhich is the margin or the harem. (Cixous 875, 881)In The House on Mango Street the need for writing the body goeshand in hand with the need for writing place. With subtle ironyCisneros plays on the polysemy of mango in the title of herstories. In Spanish mango is not only the name for the fruit butalso for 'handle' or 'haft' and a slang word for 'penis.' Mango de pluma means 'penholder,' mango de escoba means 'broomstick'and tener la sarten por el mango 'to be the master of thehouse.' One of the many things the house stands for in thestories is the female body. Another source of inspiration forCisneros' short story cycle was Virginia Lee Burton's picturebook for children The Little House. Her-Story (1942).17 TheLittle House is the story of a house in the country whose ownerpromises never to sell her and predicts that his great-great-grandchildren will live in her. The little house on the book'scover has the face of a woman. The story of the little house isa story of reversed dislocation. Urbanization and rapid17 See Cisneros "From A Writer's Notebook: Ghosts andVoices: Writing form Obsession" (70).95industrialization change the landscape so radically that withina few years the little house unhappily finds herself within anurban centre. Rediscovered by the great-great-grandchildren sheis moved back to the countryside where she lives happily everafter. Woman can only prosper in a congenial environment.In The House on Mango Street subversion of the dominantdiscourse is brought about not only by a young girl's voiceinnocently talking about rape and other kinds of male violencebut also by the hidden bilingualism of Cisneros' writing.Cisneros simulates the flavour of Spanish by reproducing inEnglish its syntactical and idiomatic qualities. Whereas Biondisuppresses his vernacular Italian and "reworks" the Germanlanguage in his attempt at reterritorialization, Cisnerosreterritorializes the vernacular Spanish by fusing a Spanish"deep structure" with an English "surface structure."Ironically, Cisneros' hidden mother tongue is her father'stongue. It was her father not her mother who spoke Spanish withher at home. Unlike, for instance, the open bilingualism ofRudolfo Anaya's Bless Me, Ultima (1972) in which English andSpanish clash against each other, Cisneros' subtle bilingualisminternalizes the borders between the two languages just asEsperanza's struggle against patriarchy resorts to oppositionalpractice' rather than open battle.' In Room for Maneuver: Reading (the) Oppositional (in) Narrative, Ross Chambers differentiates between "oppositionalbehaviour" which he sees as a "survival tactics" and revolution"which is a mode of resistance to forms of power it regards asillegitimate" (1). In his view, oppositional behaviour "has a96Acutely aware of the social problems which women have toface, and in particular those who live at the borderlines of twoor more cultures, Cisneros does not create heroines but femalecharacters who are a blend of strengths and weaknesses. Some ofthe married female characters, alienated housewives, take ongrotesque features. Cisneros' women become grotesques, because,in order to escape from a tyrannical father and a life full ofrestrictions, they opt for marriage and create a new prison forthemselves.19 The subsequent dependence on the husband andsubmission to his rule make it impossible for these women toadjust when forced to follow their husbands to the UnitedStates. "No Speak English" is the story of Mamacita who refusesto adjust to her new environment:Whatever her reasons, whether she is fat or can't climb thestairs or is afraid of English, she won't come down. Shesits all day by the window and plays the Spanish radio showand sings all the homesick songs about her country in avoice that sounds like a seagull...Ay! Mamacita, who doesnot belong, every once in a while lets out a cry,hysterical, high, as if he had torn the only skinny threadthat kept her alive, the only road out to that country. Andthen to break her heart forever, the baby boy who has begunto talk, starts to sing the pepsi commercial he heard onT.V. No speak English, she says to the child who is singingin the language that sounds like tin. No speak English, nospeak English, and bubbles into tears. No, no, no as if shecan't believe her ears. (74-75)Unlike Mamacita, Cisneros does not believe in a single culturalparticular potential to change states of affairs, by changingpeople's 'mentalities'" (1).19 This is reminiscent of Sherwood Anderson's explanation inthe introduction of Winesburg, Ohio that adopting a certain idea orbelief as their only truth makes people "grotesques."97alliance. Instead, she explores the possibilities of the spacebetween genders and genres. The male European concept of minorliterature needs to be re-visioned to serve as a working modelfor the Chicana experience. The House on Mango Street ispolitical in that it "express[es] another possible community,"namely bonding with the female line of ancestry and the femalecommunity and "forge[s] the means for another consciousness andanother sensibility" (Deleuze and Guattari 17) where, inFrancoise Lionnet's words, "solidarity becomes the fundamentalprinciple of political action against hegemonic languages" (6).98Thicker Than Water? Rachna Mara's Of Customs and Excise (1991)Mala, one of the protagonists in Rachna Mara's sequence of shortstories, Of Customs And Excise observes: "When we lived inCanada and people asked what my nationality was I'd say,'Canadian. What's yours?' Where are you from? In England, it'seasy, From Canada" (104). Mala, whose parents emigrated toCanada from India when she was a child, chooses to live inEngland later in life, where she has a daughter. The quotationhighlights the difference between circumstantial and voluntarymigration. It also addresses the particular plight of people ofcolour in Western culturally diverse societies of beingcontinuously viewed as having come from somewhere else. Unlikethe migrant of colour, the white migrant--once he/she hasmastered the language of the adopted country-- usually ceases tobe perceived as a foreigner. Mala's observation also reflectsthe book's concern with border crossings, on the one hand, andcultural and racial boundaries, on the other.Sandra Cisneros focuses on sexism rather than racism inThe House on Mango Street, but Mara is concerned with both. Shenot only explores the problems of a young Indian woman growingup in Canada with a tyrannical father who clings to the Indianway of raising a daughter, but also the difficulties of aBritish woman who grew up in India as a colonial child. In thestories dedicated to Asha, Bridget's Indian servant girl, Marafocuses on the clashes between culture and race as well as those99between classes. The stories dealing with Parvati, Mala'smother, describe the conflict of a woman torn between fulfillingthe role of submissive wife and helping her daughter to escapefrom the marriage her father is arranging for her. The storyabout Mrs. Ungoli, Parvati's mother-in-law, sheds an ironiclight on Indian filial obedience. The lives of these five womenare intricately interwoven.Whereas many short story cycles are unified by place (andtime), such as Sherwood Anderson's Winesburg, Ohio, JamesJoyce's Dubliners and The House on Mango Street for that matter,or character as in Margaret Laurence's A Bird in the House,Clark Blaise's A North American Education and Alice Munro's WhoDo You Think Your Are?, Of Customs And Excise defies temporaland spatial order. Neither do the stories dwell on thedevelopment of one particular character. The stories move backand forth between Barundabad, Prince Edward Island, Montreal andEngland, where Mala moves to work as a translator. England isalso the place where the six-year-old Bridget suffers from theseparation from her avah at the boarding school, where hermother sends her fearing that Bridget is "getting too native"(67). Of the ten stories, five are set in India and five inCanada. "Pipal Leaves," "Asha's Gift" and "Auspicious Day" takeplace in the past at the time of Mala's birth. "Market Analysis"and "Muni" take place at the time when Mala is nineteen andattempts to get Mohan's permission to go to McGill to studyFrench, Canada's "Other" language. "Daffodils" takes place three100years later, after Parvati secretly gave Mala some money toleave home. "Moon Snails" deals with Mala's return to P.E.I forMohan's funeral thirteen years after she had severed ties withher parents. In "Doctor," which takes place twenty years afterBridget left India to return to England and care for her dyingmother, her ride on an Indian train conjures up images of a tripto the Himalayas. At that time she tried to rescue Parvati fromher father-in-law's voyeurism which had upset her so much thatshe had a miscarriage. Bridget also remembers her unhappy timeat Rushton Manor where cruel fellow students presented her witha golliwog shouting: "'Bridget Parkinson was suckled by a wog'"(71). In the last story, "Parvati's Dance," which takes placeafter Mala's reunion with her mother, Mala tells her mother'sstory, the story of "a perfect Indian girl" with "romanticideas" (111) who spent her teenage years reading romance novels,watching romantic movies and taking classical Indian dancelessons. In "Seed Pearls" which is also set in the present,Parvati's mother-in-law reminisces on her sickbed about herwedding and the way she was cheated out of her dowry by herhusband's mother and sisters. She thinks of leaving some of herjewellery to Parvati and nothing to her other daughters-in-lawsince "at least she [Parvati] listened. No straying eyes, noshowing off" (81). This is ironic in light of previous storieswhich show how badly Mrs. Ungoli treated Parvati.Rachna Mara's irony is much gentler than, for instance,Bharati Mukherjee's "mordant and self-protective irony"101(Darkness 2). While retaining ironic detachment, Mara is at thesame time sympathetic to her characters' shortcomings. The ironysprings from the incongruities between the differentperspectives from which a character is described. The shortstory cycle with its intrinsic resistance to a single point ofview offers itself as a form to exploit these ironicdiscrepancies.The sequential arrangement of the stories is such that theevents of the past slowly unravel through the implications theyhave on the present, as in Ibsen's analytical drama. Just as inIbsen's plays, the ghosts of the fathers/mothers haunt thechildren. This technique forces the reader to reconstruct thecourse of events, which is no easy task since the chronology ofthe stories is not only undermined by the non-chronologicalsequence of the single episodes but also interrupted by numerousflashbacks. Furthermore, some of the stories are written from anomniscient point-of-view, others in the first person; severaluse stream-of-consciousness. Some are written in the present andsome in the past tense. There are two narrative energies at workin Of Customs And Excise: one to subvert and one to create unityand coherence.As Robert Luscher observes, "Constructed without thenovel's more rigid narrative skeleton, the short story sequencerelies on a variety of textual strategies to provide unity andcoherence" (150). The stories in Of Customs And Excise are notonly linked by the fact that the five women's lives are102intertwined but also by a variety of recurrent images, symbolsand unifying themes. All five women defy openly or secretly,"excise," the patriarchal confines of customs and duties as theyhave an impact on female sexuality, marriage and child bearing.As in The House on Mango Street, however, women are also shownto collude with the patriarchal system and to perpetuatetraditional role behaviour. As much as the stories deal with thedifficulties of growing up between cultures, they explore therelationships between mothers and daughters across thegenerations and cultures. Some of the book's main themes arelatent and open racism, cultural prejudice and misconception.Just as the stories contain a large proportion of dialogue--Maralets her characters speak for themselves--the stories arearranged in a way that each successive story enters into adialogue with the previous one. This strategy counteracts thedepiction of women's silence and inability to communicate witheach other across cultures and generations.As a patchwork quilt is composed of random pieces whichnevertheless create coherence, the stories are stitched togetherthrough the recurrence of certain objects and images to createunity in disunity. The characters are linked through objectswith which they are associated. The necklace is probably one ofthe most pervasive images in the stories. When Mala withdraws toher room after losing the battle over McGill she plans to takerevenge by sleeping with a white boy:She dragged her necklace off. Strands of tiny Rajasthanibeads twisted together, unvarying as a genetic code.103Tomorrow. Her father would have to let her go to class.She'd wait outside for Dave, they'd skip class, drive someplace quiet. She twisted the necklace hard. It burst, thecord biting into her skin. In all her fantasies, it hadnever been Dave, never. But at least he wasn't a stranger.(47)Parvati's mother bribes the astrologer with a gold necklace outof Parvati's dowry to tell the Ungolis that "only immediatemarriage was auspicious" (52). In "Seed Pearls," Mrs. Ungoliremembers the seed pearl necklace, pearls "delicate as whisperedwishes" (83), she was given on her thirteenth birthday. Thenecklace, symbol of femininity and fertility, is here not onlyassociated with female sexuality but also with the continuity oflife. The necklace, according to Cirlot's Dictionary of Symbols,"stands for the unifying of diversity, that is, it represents anintermediate state between the inherent disintegration of allmultiplicity ... and the state of unity inherent in continuity"(216).1 By tearing the necklace apart, Mala symbolically breaksthe ties with that part of her Indian heritage which prescribespassivity and submission with regard to a woman's sexuality. Andyet, Mala closes the circle by choosing the traditional roles ofwife and mother. When Parvati is mourning her mother's death,Mala cries out:'Don't die, Mummy, don't. Mummy, I'm scared. Don't everdie.' She held me close. 'Mala, listen, I will never die,because I am in you. You came from my body, so you are part1 It is interesting to note that Sandra Cisneros uses theimage of the necklace to describe the arrangement of her storiesin The House on Mango Street: "You didn't have to know anythingbefore or after and you would understand each story like alittle pearl, or you could look at the whole thing like anecklace" (Dasenbrock 305).104of me. As long as you are alive, I will be alive in you.'Her face lit. 'And my mother will always be in mine.''And her mother was in her,' I shouted. Like those Indiandolls she bought me, one inside another, bright yellows,reds, dark almond eyes, the same fixed, smiling mouth.Alike forever. But I'm not like her, don't want to be. I'llnever do the meek and suffering act for any fucking man,slave for the whims of some despot, duty, religion,whatever. (63)Like the The House on Mango Street, Of Customs And Excise stresses the importance of a female genealogy and thecontinuation of a female tradition as a counterbalance topatriarchy.Blood, and menstrual blood in particular, is anotherrecurrent image linking the characters and with them theirindividual stories. "It binds all women together, the bed" (53)observes Parvati. When Mala secretly leaves her parents home shestarts menstruating:Shoving clothes in backpack. Underpants, bras, T-shirts,socks. I felt cramps, something wet. I didn't know what todo with my stained underwear, scrunched it in my backpack.I had only one pad. In the taxi, all the way to theairport, I sat on edge, afraid of a stain more thananything else. (62)In "Asha's Gift" Asha is intrigued by the box of sanitarynapkins she finds among Bridget's toiletries. In response toAsha's question: "Do you have any spare rags?" (25) Bridgetstarts supplying Asha regularly, who makes a little money on theside by selling a few pads here and there. Apart from the factthat these two episodes show that all women are inevitablyconnected by the laws of nature, they link two characters whoare the only ones whose paths never cross. Separated by time andspace, the lives of the two nineteen-year-olds, the age at which105the reader first encounters them, could not be more different:one an orphaned refugee in India, streetwise and unscrupulous,the other growing up in a middle-class family in Canada.However, they both rebel openly against patriarchal dominance,unlike the other women in the book: Asha by killing her brother-in-law and Mala, less radically, by sleeping with a white boy toundermine her father's plans to marry her off to an Indian andby getting a university education against his will.Spilt blood is a symbol for sacrifice. If the Ungolis hadfound out that Parvati was more than three months pregnant, shewould most likely have died. Dr. Naigar explains to Bridget:"'There'll be an accident, screams in the night. They'll say hersari caught fire while she was frying something, or she atepoisoned food put out for rats'" (17). Blood stains on themarriage bed are the obligatory proof of virginity. Parvatiremembers her wedding night:He took me as is his duty. Hurt only because I was scared.Long after he was sleeping, I did what my mother told me.Jabbed finger with hairpin. Seven times. In the morning, myhusband, my mother-in-law, they saw blood on sheet and weresatisfied. (53)The marriage between Mr. and Mrs. Ungoli was contracted becauseof the bride's wealth rather than her beauty. Mrs. Ungoli'sexperience shows that the absence of blood can bring disgrace tothe bride in a different way:He sees me for the first time on our wedding night. Afraid,the bed with flowers. He takes off the jewels, parts myjasmine veil. Looks away. You must be tired. Yes, I'mtired. Afraid. The next day, and the next, they look at thesheets. Whispers like cobwebs. He should not look away. Idress in silk, must wait. All these jewels I have, these106silks, I can be lovely. A fine match, see how tall he is,how fair. My fault. Short, dark. Whispers, sticky, coveringme. They want my blood, I am glad to endure that pain,just don't shame me. (85)Mala, by sleeping with a white fellow-student and taunting herfather by telling him so, openly rebels against his attempt "tohave sacrificed her on the altar of his Indianness" (107). Theimage of blood also refers to genetic heritage. Bridget regretsthat Parvati does not discuss her problems with her which makesher see that in spite of having been born in the country andspeaking its language she does not belong:She never discusses her family with me. She cannot possiblyimagine how I understand. To her I am a doctor, she knowsnothing of me, Bridget. She knows that I was born in India,lived here till I was six, but nothing of the flesh andblood, the things that count. (66)Filial obedience keeps Parvati from complaining about the abuseshe is suffering in the Ungoli household. Blood seems to bethicker than water. When Parvati learns about her daughter'srebellious act she wonders: "Such things, can they run in theblood? My daughter, all mine, not Mohan's. The other man, herfather - I cannot call him my lover, even though she wasconceived in love. No, I will not think of him. I will vomitblood" (50). The bond between mother and daughter is made evenstronger by Parvati's secret, whereas Mala's two brothers seemto be closer to their father.The image of blood within the context of racial identity isclosely connected with the contrasting images of black andwhite, light and darkness. In Mara's stories black and whitefirst of all denote skin colour. Mara's description of Indian107disdain of dark skin is reminiscent of Richard Rodriguez'observation in "Complexion" of the Mexican women's "fear ofhaving a dark-skinned son or daughter" (116). In both culturalcontexts, as described by Mara and Rodriguez, dark skin isconsidered to be almost a physical impairment. Whereas Parvatiand Mala are very fair-skinned, Mohan is repeatedly referred toas "dark man." Mohan is self-conscious of his dark colour andregards it as a defect. He responds with anger when somebodymakes skin colour an issue:Shobba caught her up in a hug. 'Your turn will come soonenough, Mala. We'll have no trouble marrying you off, afair girl like you. And we'll find you a good--looking,fair boy, just like that Pradeep--' She stopped abruptly asshe saw Mala's father approaching, and added hastily,'Not that it matters how a boy looks, as long as he'sclever and well off.' (41)When Parvati pleads for Mala, trying to make Mohan understandthe implications of their daughter's having grown up in awestern society, he retorts: "'What is Mala thinking? She shouldbe going out with white boys? Does she think she is too good fora kala admi?'" (45). 2 The fact that Mohan refers to his darkskin with the Hindi rather than the English term, makes obviousthat the darkness of his skin was stigmatized before he arrivedin Canada. By having Mala translate the phrase rather than, byauthorial intrusion, provide a translation in parentheses, Marapoints at Mala's role as an intermediator between the two2 Mara has Mala translate kala admi in the next sentence as'black man.' Kala admi is one of the few Hindi expression forwhich Mara provides a translation, a fact that gives it specialsignificance.108cultures. The translation also conveys a sense of culturalalterity by making the reader aware of the gap between the twocultures and bridging it at the same time.3 The book repeatedlydraws attention to the importance of context. Fair to Indianeyes, Mala is considered, however, a person of colour in Canada,a foreigner and an exotic creature: "There were guys who'd nevergo out with her because of her colour and others who wanted tobecause of it, anticipating an exoticism she didn't have" (39).Mala had "always tried to minimize the difference betweenherself and her friends" (38) by refusing to speak Hindi, wearsaris and jewellery and cook Indian food. When the Indian brideon the plane to Toronto asks Mala: "You are also from India,no?" (103) she is upset and asks herself: "I just told her Igrew up in Canada. Can't she see the difference in our clothes,the way we talk?" (104). On the other hand Mala has not lost herlonging for Indian spices and colours. Unlike the protagonistsin Bharati Mukherjee's fiction, for instance, Mala finds supportin the culture of her new home, Canada. Racism in Canada, asdescribed in the book, is subtle rather than blatant and has atendency to exotify non-white cultures. Still, Canada ispictured as a country where women have the freedom to takecontrol over their lives.Bridget consciously experiences racist behaviour for the3 'Black man' is only one of the possible meanings kala admi has. It can also refer to a man of lower caste, such as acoolie. The expression can also mean 'of vicious nature.' Withinthe North American context, however, 'black man' usually refersto African-Americans only.109first time at the boarding school in England when a girl tauntsher about her affection for her Indian nanny:She takes me to the mirror above the sink, points out myfreckles with a sharp, jabbing forefinger. Her nail leavescurved indentations on my skin. 'See, it's startingalready. You were suckled by a wog so you've got black milkinside you. When you grow up, you'll be all black andyou'll be an ayah. (75)This bad fairy's wish is being mitigated in an ironic way. Ashadespises Bridget for her pale skin, which to her is not "niceand fair so much as boiled-looking, with ugly, dark blotches"(19). Bridget has contradictory feelings about India. Thepoverty, the "fatalism," the dirt, the fauna and the heat"frustrate" her, whereas she "admires" the "resilience" and the"exuberance" (12). Bridget suffers from internalized guilt forbeing white. She has a recurrent nightmare in which she iswhipping Heera, her avah. The book opens with the description ofanother of Bridget's nightmares in which Dr. Naigar listening tothe heartbeat of a cow makes her eat "a blob of feces" (7). Inthe dispute over whether eastern or western medical practice ismore efficient in treating the villagers, Bridget wonders if shewould "find it easier to confront Dr. Naigar if she were white"(13). When she gets suspicious about Asha's repeatedmisinterpretation of her orders she asks herself if this was "atypical white reaction to a brown face, chronic distrust" (11).Asha cannot help but consider her employer a "fool": "Asha'ssmile widened. So many things she could do, worse than chiliesin her food, worse than spit.... Why was she laughing? Didn'tshe understand? Didn't she know what could happen? Stupid,110stupid woman" (35). In misjudgements of situation, custom andcharacter, such as Bridget's in the quotations above, lie themajor ironies of the book. Bridget's fears and considerationsassume the intellectual and moral superiority of the European.As well-meaning and eager to help as she may be, Bridget remainscaught within the confines of her racial and nationalbackground.Bridget and Asha are connected through the image of thedoll and that of embroidery. The word "gift" in the storyentitled "Asha's Gift" can be interpreted in several ways. Itcould refer to the rag doll "with coarse, dark threads for hair"(27) which her grandmother gave Asha as a "gift" to makeembroidery more attractive to the child and which curiouslyresembles the golliwog Bridget was presented with at the Englishboarding school. A "gift" is also the embroidery thread Bridgetpromises to get for Asha in her attempt to teach Asha to ask forthings rather than steal them. The title could also ironicallyrefer to Asha's angrily spitting into Bridget's lunch whilepreparing it, or even to have spared her of "worse." The wordrefers, however, above all, to Asha's resilience and"oppositional behaviour" (Chambers) which help her to surviveand are her real gift.Embroidery and collage, recurrent images in Of Customs and Excise, function as a kind of mise en abyme. In "Doctor," at theend of her re-enactment of her emotionally abused childhood andParvati's past as a physically and emotionally abused bride,111Bridget draws the reader's attention to the embroidery she isengaged in: "I pierce the needle through to the other side.Rather messier this, threads tangled, knotted, streaks of colouroverlapping, crisscrossing from one patch to another" (80). Thepiece of embroidery is symbolic of how, disregarding thediscrepancy of "flesh and blood," these women's lives areintertwined, "tangled" and "crisscrossing." In addition to theexperience of abuse, Parvati and Bridget share a secret whosediscovery might have been fatal for one of them. Thinking abouther father after his death Mala comes to the conclusion: "Solittle I know about him. A collage of drab, rough scraps. Aworkaholic, rasping, rigid. It'll be different with Nina andJake. Those collages he makes for her, she loves them" (108).The absence of any reference to Jake's racial, ethnic andcultural background implies that what counts in the newgeneration is not ethnic and racial continuity but the abilityof bringing different parts together and arranging them--in whatVictor Turner calls an "anti-structural" move--in a new pattern.The images of collage not only reflect the concept of theCanadian mosaic, the reality of which is here seen ironically:"Set apart, little brown tiles in a mosaic, twirling with theother tiles, exotic costumes, dances, food. Gee I love your culture. What country are you from?" (104), but also thereader's capacity to synthesize the details of the text, whichLuscher refers to as "pattern-making faculties to formulate thevariable connections and build textual consistency" (155).112Luscher argues that "there is more room for subjectiveinterpretation and active participation" (158) in a short storysequence than in a novel, which implies that the former is themore pluralistic genre. Luscher also draws attention to the"spatial narrative organization" of the short story sequence:the text's diachronic dimension never disappearstotally, but the synchronic or associative relationshipsbecome more prominent in assembling pattern and meaning. Insuch a shift, setting, theme, and nontemporal patterns oforganization, such as recurrent symbols, leitmotifs, andcounterpoint, which require greater reader collaboration,become major unifying forces in the reading experience.(166)In such narrative organization, the opening and concludingstories have key significance. The first story familiarizes thereader with some Indian "customs" from Bridget's perspective. Italso shows how Bridget gets involved in saving Parvati's life bykeeping her secret from the Ungoli family. It is not until thelast story that the reader learns who Mala's father is and howParvati was "tricked" by him. The story shows how Indian womenare treated as commodity and how tradition makes them pay"excise" on happiness and self-fulfillment. It is Mala whoreconstructs and tells Parvati's story by patiently extractingpieces of information from her. "Parvati's Dance"--an allusionto the dance of Shiva--4 celebrates the reunion of mother anddaughter through the breaking of silence. Both, Cisneros andMara show how women's lives are determined by patriarchaldiscourse. Just as Cisneros re-writes the male plot and4 The dance of Shiva is performed when something isdestroyed to be made anew.113demystifies5 cultural myths, Mara proscribes a romantic andexotic reading of the events in her stories. In "Parvati'sDance," for instance, Mala describes how her mother, raised onromances, was lured into reliving a romance plot. Mala wishesshe could "leave her there, soft-eyed, dreaming, let everythingturn out all right. Her parents relent when they see how wellplaced he is, how devoted. And they live happily ever after,barring the usual ups and downs of life" (118). In Parvati'scase, however, the romance plot, successful courtship andmarriage as women's aspired goal, falls short. It is ironic thatParvati chose this plot in an attempt to escape anotherpatriarchal scenario: arranged marriage. By telling her mother'sstory and dismantling the romantic plot, Mala not only comes toa better understanding of her mother but liberates herself fromthe restrictions which traditional fictional models impose on awoman's life.Of Customs and Excise is most colourful and visceral whentalking about India. The stories that are set in Canada couldtake place anywhere in the western world. There is nothingspecifically Canadian about the landscape, the cities, or thepeople. India, the "exuberant" and "resilient" continent, the"messier side," the "area of darkness," as V.S. Naipaul referredto it, intrudes into Canada's ordered blandness. Short storycycles thrive on the tension between the independence of eachstory and the unity of the collection as a whole. Of the ten5 See McCracken.114stories, the two in which Asha appears as protagonist, "Asha'sGift" and "Auspicious Day," are the most independent and, ifpublished separately, would most likely work more successfullythan the others. It is almost as if this "minor" characterimposed her Indianness upon the whole cycle.Of Customs and Excise also abounds in Hindi words most ofwhich go untranslated. They appear italicized in the text whichsets them off from the dominant language. This oppositionalstrategy forces the reader to engage herself/himself with Indianculture.6 Both, Mara's initial withholding of importantinformation and her refusal to gloss the Hindi expressions--thatis to provide parenthetic translations of individual words--makeit necessary for the reader' to reconstruct meaning.8 Most ofthese expressions are not left completely self-contained butreceive meaning through the context. Apart from the fact thatthese insertions, woven9 into the English sentence structure,1°assert Mara's mother tongue in the text, they are alsoindicative of the fun of working creatively with both languages.6 As Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin point out, "the choiceof leaving words untranslated in post-colonial texts is apolitical act, because while translation is not inadmissable initself, glossing gives the translated word, and thus the'receptor' culture, the higher status" (66).7 That is, to the reader who does not speak Hindi.8 Compare The Empire Writes Back p. 61.9 See Cisneros' use of this expression to describe thisbilingual activity in the following quotation.' The authors of The Empire Writes Back refer to thisstrategy as "syntactic fusion" (68).115Sandra Cisneros, who in her second book of fiction Woman Hollering Creek, And Other Stories (1991) lets Spanish intrudemuch more aggressively into the text than in the earlier TheHouse on Mango Street explains in an interview:You can say a phrase in Spanish, and you can choose to nottranslate it, but you can make it understood through thecontext. 'And then my abuelita called me a sin verguenzaand cried because I am without shame,' you see? Just in thesentence you can weave it in. To me it's really fun to bedoing that; to me it's like I've uncovered this wholemotherlode that I haven't tapped into. All the expresionesin Spanish when translated make English wonderful. I feellike I haven't finished playing around. (289)Both, Cisneros and Mara are interested in voices. Themanifestation of two languages in a text, contributes to thecreation of the multiplicity of these voices. In addition, Maramimics the syntactic and idiomatic idiosyncrasies of Hindispeakers who were not born into the English language as anexpression of Parvati's and Mohan's dual cultural allegiance.Bilingual strategies are indicative of a writer's owncultural dualism. Mara shares Cisneros' experience of havinggrown up and living between cultures and the impulse ofnegotiating this experience in her text. She was born in Indiaand moved to England with her parents at the age of fourteenwhere she finished school and went to university. At the age oftwenty she emigrated to Canada--her mother and brother areBritish citizens--and lived in Prince Edward Island beforesettling in Ottawa. Mara is also the author of four children'sbooks which she published between 1988 and 1991 under her116married name Rachna Gilmore." None of these books has anyspecifically racial or ethnic content. Just as Cisneros definesherself, as the context demands, as Mexicana in Chicago andChicana in Texas,n Mara is visibly and intentionally "ethnic"when writing Of Customs and Excise, invisible when writing booksfor children.n It seems that in Of Customs and Excise Mara hasbecome more interested in exploring her ethnic heritage. In TheHouse on Mango Street as well as in Of Customs and Excise theexploration of ethnic heritage and the struggle againstculturally imposed restrictive traditions is described as anessential step towards establishing personal identity. NeitherCisneros' nor Mara's women light out for the territory, but takeup the struggle wherever they happen to live. The short storycycle offers itself as a form to express the tension betweenpersonal and communal identity. Cisneros and Mara exploit theshort story cycle to subvert dominant forms of discourse byreplacing unity, linearity and separation with multiplicity,circularity and interweaving.11 Mara is not the author's maiden name but an adoptedpenname.12 See the interview with Reed Dasenbrock.n This is apart from the fact that there is a photograph ofher and the illustrators of her books on each of the covers ofthe books.117Chapter Three: The Space between Assimilation and Deracination:Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation: A Life In A New Language (1989) and Richard Rodriguez' Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982)Discourse on the Logic of LanguageEnglishis my mother tongue.A mother tongue is notnot a foreign lan lan langlanguage1/anguishanguish- a foreign anguish. (Marlene Nourbese Philip, She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks)To date, integration and assimilation have never takenplace on equal terms, but always as assimilation by thedominant culture. In relations with the dominant culture,the syncretic movement is always asymmetrical.... (Abdul R.JanMohamed and David Lloyd 7)In Search of the Private Self: Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation Eva Hoffman was born in Cracow in 1946 into a Jewish family. In1959 Hoffman's parents decided to leave Poland and to emigrateto Vancouver. Increasing anti-semitism had made life difficultfor them in Poland. Hoffman left Canada, the country of "exile,"for the "real America," where she earned a Ph.D. in English fromHarvard. Today she lives in New York and works as an editor atthe New York Times Book Review. There are some strikingsimilarities between Hoffman's autobiography, Lost inTranslation, and Richard Rodriguez' Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez (1982). Richard Rodriguez wasborn in 1944 in Sacramento, California, to Mexican immigrant118parents. Rodriguez decided not to complete his dissertation onEnglish Renaissance Literature because he was disillusioned withaffirmative-action programmes, which, in his opinion, did nothelp those who really deserved support. Rodriguez works as aneditor and journalist in San Francisco. The parallels betweenHoffman's and Rodriguez' lives and the discursive strategiesthey employ to represent them in their autobiographies areintriguing, although their ethnic backgrounds are verydifferent.In both autobiographies the focus is on institutionaleducation and how it brings about assimilation into middle-classAmerica. Since both authors grew up in a language other thanEnglish, their works deal with the problems of living a life inanother language. Although they were both successful inacademia, they decided against pursuing a university career.Both Hoffman's and Rodriguez' lives, as depicted in their works,can be described according to Victor Turner's model as passingthrough a phase of separation into the realm of the margin (orlimen) and eventually moving through a "reaggragation" process.Both autobiographies--as the majority of the works I havediscussed so far--are hybrid texts. Hoffman and Rodrigueztrangress the boundaries of genre by using the form of the essayto explore the immigrant condition in less personal terms.'Eva Hoffman divides her book into three sections:1 Rodriguez actually calls his autobiography "essay-autobiography" (7).119"Paradise," "Exile," and "The New World." The first sectiondeals with her life in Cracow, Hoffman's childhood paradise.Hoffman is forced to leave paradise when she is on the thresholdof adolescence. As in the migrant Bildungsroman, the experienceof growing up and having to adjust to a new society converge inLost in Translation. In the second section Hoffman talks abouther unhappy life in Vancouver. In Canada, Hoffman lived on themargins and felt like an outsider. Hoffman pictures the UnitedStates as a much more congenial place for migrants. With hermove to the "real America," (171) Hoffman began her NorthAmerican education and "reaggregation" into middle-classsociety. Her career as an editor of The New York Times Book Review, the most influential among the American literaryreviews, indicates the degree to which Hoffman has become"reaggregated." It becomes particularly obvious in this thirdsection of the book just how problematic the notion ofassimilation into American society is.Hoffman interrupts the chronological flow of her life storyseveral times by presenting the views of her adult,"assimilated" self. "Control" is one of the most frequently usedwords in Lost in Translation. The way in which Hoffman assumescontrol over her text, and thus her life, might well be an actof compensation for her lack of control over her environment andover the new language during her formative years. The firstsection of the book, "Paradise," actually starts with theexpulsion from paradise: "It is April 1959, I'm standing at the120railing of the Batory's upper deck, and I feel that my life isending." (3) The beginning evokes the feeling of loss thatpervades the book. For Hoffman the word "'Canada'" had "ominousechoes of the 'Sahara'" (4). Hoffman does not set out with adescription of her birth and early childhood, but with theexperience of separation and a new beginning. Paradoxically, thenew beginning makes the adolescent Hoffman feel as if her lifewas over since Canada holds no promises for her. The uprootingfrom her native soil entails a move from a cultural centre tothe periphery, from meaningful, organized space to a borderlandwhere meaning becomes problematic. The 12-day-long voyage on theBatory from Poland to Montreal and the subsequent journey bytrain from Montreal to Vancouver can be described as liminalstates which prepare the family emotionally and symbolically forthe Other place: Canada.Cracow is the place that becomes most real in Hoffman'sstory: it is there, not elsewhere. "Paradise" resembles amemoir, which differs from autobiography in its emphasis on theauthor's environment rather than on his/her developing self.Cracow appears as a place which is obviously transformed into alocus amoenus by the selective and ameliorating powers ofmemory. Space and personal identity are closely related andunproblematic in "Paradise." Hoffman explains that she felt safein Cracow because the city is full of history: "Age is one ofthe things that encloses me with safety; Cracow has alwaysexisted, it's a given, it doesn't change much. It has layers and121layers of reality. The main square is like a magnetic fieldpulling all parts of the city together." (39) She describes hercompatriots in "Paradise" with much nostalgic detail. CiociaBronia, the maid, who saved her parents' life during the war byhiding them from the Nazis, Pani Orlovska, the family friend,and Pani Witeszczak, Eva's piano teacher, are eccentriccharacters who are represented with great vividness. Like Cracowthese characters have an aura. Hoffman spends little time andloving reminiscence on describing the people of the Vancouvercommunity. They are as bland and have as little substance as thewhite bread and the pre-sliced, plastic-wrapped cheese that aregiven to the Wydras as a welcoming meal in Vancouver.Extravagance of style and feeling were the objectives ofHoffman's Polish education: "The best compliment that a schoolexercise can receive is that it is characterized by polot--aconcept that combines the meanings of dash, inspiration, andflying. Polot is what everyone wants to have in personality aswell. Being correct and dull is a horrid misfortune" (71).2 Thisappreciation of polot stands in sharp contrast to Eva's NorthAmerican education where diligence and a certain amount ofconformity are being asked for. According to Hoffman, her fatheris a living personification of polot. The father, whose firstname is never mentioned, is depicted as larger-than-life."Strong as a bull," he not only managed to free himself twicefrom Gestapo captivity but also carried his wife, who was2 Polot could be best translated as 'flair.'122recovering from a miscarriage, through the snow on their way tosafety. In Vancouver he lost his "peace of mind." Spatialstructure changed, and he is faced with "seemingly unresistantamorphousness." (128) There is nothing he can apply his polot toand consequently, life has lost its meaning.What makes Cracow a paradise to Hoffman is that itrepresents a space where the connection between signifier andsignified is unproblematic. Everybody speaks the same language.Being Jewish does not alienate the Wydras in Poland as far aslanguage is concerned. Polish, not Yiddish, is the language ofthe family and the community. Yiddish is the language of "moneyand secrets," which Hoffman's parents use when they do not wantto share thoughts with their daughters and which they do notpass on to them. Being Jewish in Poland taught Hoffman a lessonin difference which she experienced not only with respect to agentile majority, but also in relation to a belief system fromwhich she was alienated. When Hoffman was eleven, her motherasked her not to betray her own religious background in publicany longer: "'It's time you stopped crossing yourself in frontof churches. We're Jewish and Jews don't do that'" (29). WhenCatholicism was instituted in Polish schools, Hoffman's parentsinstructed their daughters to "show respect by standing up" butnot to "compromise" themselves by saying the words (34). InPoland, the Wydras were already living between two cultures andtrying to incorporate elements from both into their lives: therewas the Christmas tree and the Passover dinner. The Wydras did123not have a clearly identifiable social status. Hoffman observes:"And, like the apartment in which we live, we ourselves arelocated somewhere on the tenuous margins of middle-classsociety, in an amphibian, betwixt and between position" (13).The war tragically prepared the Wydras for a life that wascharacterized by a certain amount of gentile hostility and thefather's hazardous entrepreneurship. "Paradise" is concernedwith origins. The hardships of the war, the loss of many lovedones, and their own narrow escapes from death have shaped herparents' lives:They have been divested of religious faith, and theresidues of both Victorian and Orthodox prudishness. Theyare, in a way, unshockable; they've lost the innocence ofan inherited, unquestioned morality. The only thing they'releft with is a deep skepticism about human motives, and ahomegrown version of existentialism--a philosophy born ofthe War, after all--with its gamble that since everythingis absurd, you might as well try to squeeze the juice outof every moment. (16)Hoffman points out how much the war and her parents' storieshave not only dominated her life but have made it difficult forher not to discount her own pain: "I come from the war; it is mytrue origin. But as with all our origins, I cannot grasp it"(23). Cracow is and is not the place of her family's origin. TheWydras' Jewishness "defers" their origins. The death of thegrandparents in World War II interrupts the family's genealogy.The violent separation from the ancestral past seems tofacilitate the parents' decision to emigrate. Hoffman does notproblematize her separation from the family's Jewish background.In America, she has been moving away from both her Polish and124her Jewish origins."Exile" starts with a description of the Wydras' arrival atthe train station in Montreal waiting for someone to give them"guidance" (99). Hoffman feels alienated and initiates a processof cultural mothering" in turn. For the first time she sees "ablack man" and wonders if all "black men" are as handsome asHarry Belafonte, whom she knows from Polish television. There isalso a "teenage girl in high-heeled shoes and lipstick" whomHoffman finds incredibly "vulgar" (99). Whereas in "Paradise"the autobiographical self is very close to the objects and thesurroundings it describes, in "Exile," and even more so in "TheNew World," the self keeps its distance. The quality of thewriting becomes at the same time more essayistic. The narrativeshift suggests that life in North America is less immediate.Hoffman's reaction to the country is cerebral rather thanvisceral. In Cracow she experienced life in a much morespontaneous and physical way than in America which has partly todo with the fact that in the new country she turned into anadolescent and started to live less in her body than in hermind. But Hoffman was also much more a part of Cracow than shewould ever be of Vancouver or even New York City, where, so sheclaims, she now feels at home. Only in Cracow was the self atone with its surroundings.Since James Olney's influential article appeared in 1980,autobiography has frequently been analyzed in terms of its threeseparate components: autos or self, bios or life, and qraphe or125writing. In "Paradise" Hoffman is more concerned with bios,whereas in "Exile," the exploration of the conditions of theself becomes the prevalent mode of discourse. The self becomesproblematic because it is uprooted from its naturalsurroundings. In the new environment the relationship betweenself and Other changes and the self has to be reconstructed inanother language. The lack of role models in the Vancouvercommunity made it particularly difficult for Hoffman torefashion her self. Vancouver was also a place where Hoffman wasbeing cast in the role of Other. Like Bharati Mukherjee, whoalso has the dual perspective of having lived in both Canada andthe United States, Hoffman accuses Canadian society of hypocrisyand cultural othering.3 Where Hoffman's Polish background was astigma in Vancouver, it gave her added value in the eyes of herclassmates at Rice University: "They are curious about what Ihave to say, and fascinated by the fact that I'm a 'European,'which in their minds guarantees some mysterious and profounderknowledge" (179). Hoffman neglects to point out that inVancouver she probably was one out of hundreds of immigrantsfrom Poland, whereas at Rice University she most likely had theprivilege of being the only Polish student. The theme thatJewish emigrants ended up in the wrong place in Canada pervades3 Hoffman writes about her fourteen-year-old self: "I wantto tell Canadians about how boring they are. 'Canada is thedullest country in the world,' I write in the notes for myspeech, 'because it is the most conformist.' People may pretendto have liberal beliefs, I go on, but really they are anunadventurous lot who never dare to sidestep bourgeoisconventions" (133).126Canadian literature. In Mordecai Richler's The Street, "Canadawas not a choice, but an accident" (Richler 17) just as in AdeleWiseman's The Sacrifice, Canada is second best rather than theplace of choice.4 Canada still features in the minds of many asa heterotopian space, whereas the United States still seems tohold utopian promises.Victor Turner claims that the most important properties ofthe liminal state are transgression of boundaries, a specialliminal vocabulary, ambiguity and paradox. Hoffman's experiencein "Exile" is characterized by transgressions of cultural andemotional boundaries. Furthermore, she led a "life intranslation" where her mother tongue atrophied and was no longeradequate to describe current experience, while English was notyet fully available to her. In this phase of her life, theparadox became an essential mode of consciousness and being.Hoffman and her younger sister were initiated into Canadiansociety by a renaming ritual. The renaming of the two sistersfrom Ewa and Alina to "Eva" and "Elaine" was a traumaticexperience for Hoffman:The twist in our names takes them a tiny distance from us-but it's a gap into which the infinite hobgoblin ofabstraction enters. Our Polish names didn't refer to us;they were as surely us as our eyes or hands. These newappellations, which we ourselves can't yet pronounce, arenot us. They are identification tags, disembodied signspointing to objects that happen to be my sister and myself.(105)Scenes of baptism, where insensitive teachers Anglicize their4 See Carole Gerson, "Some Patterns of Exile in JewishWriting of the Commonwealth." Ariel 13.4 (1982), 103-114.127new students' names have become a topos in migrant literature.Hoffman uses quotation marks around the new names in order todramatize the separation of the signifier from the signified.This renaming predicates a life in quotation, a life of presencein absence. In this state of liminality Hoffman had to undergoa revision of her self-image: "But there's no doubt about it;after the passage across the Atlantic, I've emerged as lessattractive, less graceful, less desirable" (109). The pain shefelt about the loss of what was dear and familiar and therejection of what Vancouver had to offer in terms of people,culture, architecture, and food put her into a state ofemotional limbo. Hoffman "lost [her] sense of humour" (119) andreacted to even minor provocations with what she calls"immigrant rage" (203). The source for this rage is the "falsepersona" (119) she is forced to take on: "I'm enraged at myadolescent friends because they can't see through the guise,can't recognize the light-footed dancer I really am. They onlysee this elephantine creature who too often sounds as if she'smaking pronouncements" (119). In this border state ofconsciousness, Hoffman walked through the streets of Vancouverfeeling as if a screen had fallen before her eyes, blurring hervision. "The city's unfocused sprawl" and "its inchoate spreadof one-family houses" (135) strained her eyes. The fog becameeven thicker when Hoffman faced the well-filled shelves in thesupermarkets. Her new environment encouraged consumerism to adegree that Hoffman had not experienced before. In Poland the128wydras lived a middle-class life, but they moved considerablydown the scale of social status in Vancouver. Hoffman developedseveral survival techniques such as to "stop wanting" (136). Sheconsciously numbed her senses in order not to be tempted to buywhat she could not afford anyway. Since Hoffman did not yet havea full command of the English language, she felt that thisshortcoming made her invisible too: "People look past me as wespeak. What do I look like, here? Imperceptible, I think,impalpable, neutral, faceless" (147). In this process ofadaptation, Hoffman "learnt restraint" and a "new reserve"(146). Furthermore, she began to see the world from an "obliqueangle" (183), an angle that catapulted her out of the centre tothe margin where she "decided that [her] role in life [was] tobe an 'observer'" (131). This decentered vision and theobserver's position still characterize Hoffman in adult life asbecomes obvious from the description of her public adult self ata party in New York. This vision made Hoffman an expert inidentifying "alienation," "irony" and "paradox" (182) inliterature at Rice University. Hoffman points out that NewCriticism as "an alienated way of reading meant for people whoare aliens in the country of literature" (183) was a method ofinterpretation congenial to the "oblique angle" (183) of hervision and continues:But my particular kind of alienness serves me well too, forI soon discover that triangulation is a more useful tool inliterary criticism than it is in life. As I read, Itriangulate to my private criteria and my private passions,and from the oblique angle of my estrangement, I noticewhat's often invisible to my fellow students. (183)129I assume that it was Hoffman's sense for incongruities thatprompted her to write a dissertation on the grotesque in modernliterature.Eva Hoffman's life in the New World was also made morecomplicated by the fact that her parents could not serve her asguides through her rites of passage since they both lost theirpolot and their chutzpah. They had even greater difficultyadjusting to their new environment than their daughters. Hoffmanwrites: "I'm a little ashamed to reveal how hard things are formy family--how bitterly my parents quarrel, how much my mothercries, how frightened I am by our helplessness, and by theburden of feeling that it is my duty to take charge, to get usout of this quagmire" (112). The paradox of role reversal in theparent-child relationship is another topos in migrant writing.Alina's religious education also took a paradoxical course. As"a gesture of assimilation" (144), the Wydras sent her to aHebrew school. Soon, she "embrace[d] ethnic exclusivity" (144)and argued against letting non-Jews into Vancouver's new JewishCommunity Centre. Hoffman did not approve of her sister'srigidity. It violated the "equation" she had developed "betweenJewishness and a kind of secular humanism" (144). Hoffman'ssister, who is four years younger, seems to have lived less inthe cultural interstices.' She did not feel the need tonegotiate between the two cultures and the two languages to the5 This is also true of Richard Rodriguez' brother andsisters.130extent Hoffman did. It was Alina who soon started to use herPolish name again, whereas Hoffman never did.The way Hoffman learnt English, namely "from the top" (217)is one of the greatest paradoxes of Hoffman's life on themargins. The vocabulary she was exposed to was the language ofinstruction in the Vancouver classroom. Hoffman points out thatuntil relatively late in her life she was filling gaps in hervocabulary:'Beveled, chiseled, sculpted, ribbed,'" I think as a woodenlampstand I liked flashes through my mind ... I search forthe right shade of a pearly pinkish shell I found on thebeach as if my life depended on it, and to some extent itdoes. I can't live forever in a windy, unfurnishedimagination; I have to make a comfortable habitation there,fill it with a few household things. (217)Not words like "insolent" and "enigmatic," the ones she eagerlylearnt "from books" (106) caused Hoffman problems, but wordsdenoting emotions and attitudes, such as "kind," "happy,""nice," and "envious," since they are culturally charged andhave no direct equivalent in Polish, which brings with it adifferent value system. The translation process is hampered bythe fact that the new words do not yet have any connotations andassociations:'River' in Polish was a vital sound, energized with theessence of riverhood, of my rivers, of my being immersed inrivers. 'River' in English is cold--a word without an aura.It has no accumulated associations for me, and it does notgive off the radiating haze of connotation. It does notevoke. (106)After the expulsion from paradise, the language of names givesway to the language of knowledge, a language which involves what131did not exist in paradise: judgement. 6Hoffman's themes--the clash of values, and the pain ofloss, separation, and exile--are familiar autobiographicalmaterial; what is distinctive is her absolute interpretation ofherself through the other language. "Triangulation" is Hoffman'sterm to describe the process of translating back and forthbetween her Polish self which finds expression in the emotionallanguage of childhood and her more rational and distancedAmerican self, which expresses itself through the language ofeducation. The voices of her private self and her public selfvie for attention. When a friend gave Hoffman a diary for herfifteenth birthday, she was not sure which language to write in.Eventually she decided to write in English, since it was "thelanguage of the present," although not "the language of theself":In the solitude of this most private act, I write, in mypublic language, in order to update what might have been myother self. The diary is about me and not about me at all.But on one level, it allows me to make the first jump. Ilearn English through writing, and, in turn, writing givesme a written self.... When I write, I have a real existencethat is proper to the activity of writing--an existencethat takes place midway between me and the sphere ofartifice, art, pure language. This language is beginning toinvent another me. (121)Since she did not yet have a self in the new language, Hoffmanfound it particularly difficult to write in her diary in thefirst person. Only when she became able to express her childhood6 The fact that Hoffman chooses not to quote the Polish wordfor river in the original shows how anxious she is not to createany distance between herself and the English-speaking reader.132in English through the process of psychotherapy, her"translation therapy" and "talking cure," as she calls it, didshe reconcile the two voices and stop triangulating to Polish"as to an authentic criterion" (272):But in my translation therapy, I keep going back and forthover the rifts, not to heal them but to see that I--oneperson, first-person singular--have been on both sides.Patiently, I use English as a conduit to go back and down;all the way down to childhood, almost to the beginning.When I learn to say those smallest, first things in thelanguage that has served for detachment and irony andabstraction, I begin to see where the languages I've spokenhave their correspondences--how I can move between themwithout being split by the difference. (273-74)To be living between two languages, Hoffman gradually came tosee, does not inevitably end in schizophrenia."Exile" ends with a reference to Mary Antin's autobiographyThe Promised Land which was written in 1911 when Mashke, renamedMary, was thirty years old. Hoffman points out that in certaindetails Antin's story so closely resembles her own that "itsauthor seems to be some amusing poltergeist [sic]" (162) come toshow her that her life is not unique. The parallels between thetwo authors lives are uncanny indeed. The Promised Land is anarrative of success, a story of a model assimilation. Antin wasborn into a Jewish family in Polotzk, a town within the RussianPale. Faced with czarist anti-Semitism, the Antins decided toemigrate to the United States where they settled in Boston whenMary was thirteen--Hoffman's age when the Wydras emigrated. Marybecame an outstanding student and was offered a scholarship toRadcliffe. Like Hoffman's and Rodriguez' autobiographies, The133Promised Land gives credit to the American educational system asthe main assimilating force.Hoffman claims that the similarities between Antin's lifeand hers end when Antin gives her views on her story. In otherwords, although Hoffman admits to a striking similarity betweenAntin's and her representation of bios, she denies anysimilarity between their ways of dealing with autos. Hoffmansees the main difference between their autobiographies inAntin's interpretation of her new life as an untarnished successstory: "For, despite the hardships that leap out from the pages,Mary insists on seeing her life as a fable of pure success:success for herself, for the idea of assimilation, for the greatAmerican experiment" (163). Hoffman slightly misrepresents herpredecessor, since Antin is quite aware of the price she paidfor her assimilation. Nor is there such a big difference betweenAntin's and Hoffman's views on their adopted country and theassimilation process as Hoffman wants to make the readerbelieve.The life stories of both authors are conversion narrativesthat describe the transformation from foreigner to middle-classAmerican: trial period, transformation induced by education, andfinal success. Hoffman is almost equally profuse in her praiseof American education as Antin:For one thing, I've learned that in a democraticeducational system, in a democratic ideology of reading, Iam never made to feel that I'm an outsider poaching onothers' property. In this country of learning, I'm welcomedon equal terms, and it's through the democratizing power ofliterature that I begin to feel at home in America....134(183-184)In this description of the school system, Hoffman disregardsimportant issues of race, class and gender. It is interesting inthis context that Hoffman neglects to mention Mary's oldersister Fetchke/Frieda in her summary of Antin's life. Threeyears older than Mary, Frieda was too old to benefit from theAmerican school system, became a seamstress and married at theage of seventeen. Critics have blamed Antin for losing sight ofher own sister's fate in praising America as a country of equalopportunities. And it is characteristic for Hoffman'sautobiography to lose sight of gender issues in particular. Thepressure to succeed and to become American was obviously veryhard on the younger Hoffman. The fear of poverty loomed large.Hoffman admits:But there is another motive driving me as well, an extraedge to my ambition--an edge that wasn't there before, andthat comes from a version of the Big Fear. I know howunprotected my family has become; I know I'd better do verywell-or else. The 'or else' takes many forms in my mind-vague images of helplessness and restriction and alwaysbeing poor.... I have to make myself a steel breastplate ofachievement and good grades, so that I'll be able to getout--and get in, so that I can gain entry into the socialsystem from where I stand, on a precarious ledge. I ampervaded by a new knowledge that I have to fend for myself,and it pushes me on with something besides my oldcuriosity, or even simple competitiveness.^(157)And like Benjamin Franklin, whose name the older Hoffman claimsshe had never heard at the time, the teenaged Hoffman devisesprogrammes of "physical, intellectual, spiritual, and creativeself-improvement" (137), efforts reminiscent of those thatturned Jimmy Gatz into Jay Gatsby. Hoffman describes education135not in terms of the joy and enlightenment it has to offer, butrather as a hard-earned passport to worldly success.Consequently she calls her Ph.D. the "certificate of fullAmericanization" (226).Hoffman, however, does not ask what price she is payingfor her Americanization. She lives between two cultures, but itis more important for her to participate in one world than theother. In her adult life Hoffman does not feel the urge toregain some closeness to Polish culture and literature. It issymptomatic that she repudiates the family surname in favour ofan "inaudible" Anglicized name.' She never mentions whatlanguage the family speaks at home. There is, so it seems,hardly any family life. Soon after the Wydras arrived inVancouver, Hoffman found a substitute home with the wealthierand more assimilated Steiners and spent more time with thisfamily than with her own. Unlike Hoffman, Mary Antin is aware ofthe alienation from her family as a price for literacy andassimilation when she writes in her autobiography: "This sadprocess of disintegration of home life may be observed in almostany immigrant family of our class and with our traditions andaspirations. It is part of the process of Americanization; anupheaval preceding the state of repose" (271). Towards the endof her autobiography, Hoffman describes a visit with her7 Hoffman's sister Alina, who lives in Vancouver, stillcarries the family name Wydra.136parents. The communication between them appears to be strainedand artificial. Her parents are reluctant and shy to ask herabout her work, her divorce, and especially to ask the ultimatequestion: is she "happy"? Hoffman's response is characterized byimpatience and irritability. When her mother asks her if she hasa warm winter coat, Hoffman's reaction is: "Yes, Mother, Imentally answer, I have a new Geoffrey Beene coat, and a pair ofCharles Jordan shoes...I can buy myself such things now, thoughI still, if you must know, feel as though I've gone on anindecent binge when I do" (247). Benjamin Franklin's descriptionof his achievements anticipates Hoffman's account of hersuccess: "From the poverty and obscurity in which I was born andin which I passed my earliest years, I have raised myself to astate of affluence and some degree of reputation in the world"(3). Conversion, the objective of spiritual autobiography, isthus transformed into wealth and social prestige. Hoffman doesnot point at the shortcomings of Franklin's vision which, amongother things, assumed the absence of racial and sexual prejudiceand discrimination in a classless society.Hoffman becomes a public person at the expense of herprivate identity. It is not "happiness" Hoffman wishes to gainwith the help of her psychotherapist, but "control." She pointsout:I've gained some control, and control is something I needmore than my mother did. I have more of a public life, inwhich it's important to appear strong.... My mother staysclose to herself, as she stays close to home. She pays aprice for her lack of self-alienation--the price ofextremity, of being in extremis, of suffering. She can only137be herself; she can't help that either. She doesn't seeherself as a personage; she's not someone who tellsherself her own biography. (270)Hoffman's writing about her private life in her public voicepresupposes, after all, that she is able to do so. Her motherlacks the skill to address the public in English. By claimingthat her mother has no autobiographical self, Hoffmanmarginalizes and silences her in an act of collusion withpatriarchy. Furthermore, after having achieved a publicreputation as an editor of one of the most widely-read Americanliterary reviews, Hoffman reproduces the prevailing ideology ofmale selfhood in telling her public success story in a publicvoice. The role models she has adopted--Benjamin Franklin, HenryAdams and "those New York intellectuals, like Alfred Kazin orNorman Podhoretz"--are white men. By participating in male-defined culture and male ideology of selfhood, Hoffman repressesher female self and plays a part in perpetuating thedisempowerment of women. Hoffman says she envies Kazin andPodhoretz because they knew where the centre was: "Theirjourneys from the outer boroughs to Manhattan felt long andarduous to them, but at least they knew where the center was,they felt the compelling lure of its glittering lights" (160).For Hoffman, New York, the ultimate centre, is Paradiseregained. Cracow, Vancouver, New York. Her journey leads herfrom a cultural centre to the margins and back to the Centre.The price Hoffman pays for her "reaggregation" is high. Byopting to be a public person in American mainstream society, she138sacrifices not only her cultural background and her mothertongue but also alienates herself from her family and her femaleself.139In Search of a Community: Richard Rodriguez' Hunger of Memory: The Education of Richard Rodriguez In the wake of the American controversy over the acceptance ofSpanish as an official language of instruction along withEnglish, Richard Rodriguez, an opponent of bilingual education,has been designated as the public voice of Latino-Americans bythe mainstream media.' The Chicano intellectual community,however, treats him critically, if not with hostility.2 In"Middle-class Pastoral," which serves as a prologue to the book,Rodriguez says: "This is what matters to me: the story of thescholarship boy who returns home one summer from college todiscover bewildering silence, facing his parents. This is mystory. An American story" (5). By claiming that his story is notnecessarily a story of a child with a particular ethnicbackground, but a story of the clash between working class andmiddle class values, Rodriguez effaces his own ethnicbackground. Ethnicity comes in the back door, however, when hepoints out that "Mexican American" in the United States almostalways implies working class.1 Paul Zweig in his commentary in the The New York Times Book Review calls Hunger of Memory a "superb autobiographicalessay" (26). The anonymous commentary in Time called "TakingBilingualism to Task" says in its subtitle: "A gifted MexicanAmerican says it [bilingualism] cheats minorities" (68).2 Tomas Rivera calls Hunger of Memory a "humanisticantithesis," and Raman Saldivar blames Rodriguez for being"uncritical when he deals with the historical factors affectingMexican American life in general and his own life in particular"(28).140Unlike Eva Hoffman, Richard Rodriguez was born in theUnited States. His separation from his parents' culture did nothappen geographically but emotionally and intellectually. Unlikemost Mexican-Americans in California, the Rodriguezes did notlive in a barrio but in a middle-class neighbourhood where theywere the only non-white family. Isolation from the Chicanocommunity in Sacramento created a strong bond among the familymembers. Rodriguez remembers his childhood as a childhood of"intense family closeness:" (3)I grew up in a house where the only regular guests were myrelations. For one day, enormous families of relativeswould visit and there would be so many people that thenoise and the bodies would spill out to the backyard andfront porch. Then, for weeks, no one came by. (It wasusually a salesman who rang the doorbell.) Our house stoodapart. A gaudy yellow in a row of white bungalows. We werethe people with the noisy dog. The people who raisedpigeons and chickens. We were the foreigners on the block.A few neighbors smiled and waved. We waved back. But no onein the family knew the names of the old couple who livednext door; until I was seven years old, I did not know thenames of the kids who lived across the street. (12-13)Sandra Cisneros' prose poem "Those Who Don't" in The House on Mango Street describes boundaries around Esperanza's barrio thatseparate Anglo-American and Chicano culture. It is the obviousOtherness of the Rodriguez house and family life thatestablishes a border between the Chicanos and their whiteneighbourhood. Unlike those who grow up in a barrio and useSpanish within the community, Spanish for Rodriguez representedexclusively the language of home:At the age of five, six, well past the time when most otherchildren no longer easily notice the difference betweensounds uttered at home and words spoken in public, I had adifferent experience. I lived in a world magically141compounded of sounds. I remained a child longer than most;I lingered too long, poised at the edge of language - oftenfrightened by the sounds of los gringos, delighted by thesound of Spanish at home. I shared with my family alanguage that was startlingy different from that used inthe great city around us. (16)Rodriguez' paradise was not in rural Mexico, but in a house onThirty-ninth Street in the Sacramento of the 1950s. The screendoor of the house opening into the street separated the privatefrom the public sphere. Since the family spoke only Spanish athome, Rodriguez barely spoke any English until he was nine.Worried about his silence in the classroom, the nuns from theprivate Catholic school, which Rodriguez and his siblingsattended, convinced his parents to speak English at home. Theinvasion of the public sphere in form of the English languageinto the private sphere destroyed the intimate family life. Italso irreversibly established the identification of English asthe public and Spanish as the private language. The childrenstopped sharing their public lives with their parents. As aconsequence, Richard's father retreated into silence while hismother "grew restless, seemed troubled at the scarcity of wordsexchanged in the house" (24). Richard's mother, whose Englishwas more fluent than her husband's, became the public voice ofthe family. From that time on she would answer the telephone andtalk to people at the front door. At the beginning of thisperiod of transition the house would grow more and more silent,since children and parents no longer had a common language.Language turned into an instrument to express superiority and,however goodnaturedly, power. In an earlier version of the142chapter "The Achievement of Desire" with the title "An Educationin Language," Rodriguez writes: "Too deeply troubled, I did notjoin my brothers when, as high school students, they toyed withour parents' opinions, devastating them frequently with superiorlogic and factual information" (134). By assigning the privatesphere a subordinate role, Rodriguez buys into the patriarchalseparation of public and private and the equation of private asfemale and public as male space. Since Rodriguez equates Spanishwith the private, he subsequently regards it as inferior toEnglish.In his first years at school, Rodriguez not only becameliterate in English at the cost of losing his ability to speakSpanish, but he also acquired a public personality. He ceasedbeing Ricardo and became Richard. This was not a smooth and easyprocess. During his first two school years Rodriguez couldhardly wait to be back home in the afternoon. He was the problemstudent, would not answer the teacher's questions, would keep tohimself in the schoolyard and not try to make friends. A crucialexperience, however, made Rodriguez decide to change hisidentity. 3 One day, weeks after English had replaced Spanish athome, Richard witnessed a conversation between his parents. Onlywhen they switched from Spanish to English as soon as theybecame aware of their son's presence did Rodriguez realize thatthey were speaking Spanish. The experience was traumatic forRodriguez uses these words to express the change in hislife in an interview with Robert Fulford on November 13, 1985,TVOntario.143him:Those gringo sounds they uttered startled me. Pushed meaway. In that moment of trivial misunderstanding andprofound insight, I felt my throat twisted by unsoundedgrief. I turned quickly and left the room. But I had noplace to escape to with Spanish (...). My brother andsisters were speaking English in another part of the house.(22)It was then that Rodriguez determined to learn classroom Englishwith a vengeance and "committed" himself "fully and freely tothe culture of the classroom" ("On Becoming a Chicano" 46).Unlike Esperanza's education, which consists in the teachings ofolder women and her peers as well as the confrontation withviolence in the world around her, Rodriguez' was mostly formal.He acknowledged as authentic only that which he learned in theclassroom. He was not a boy of the streets. Learning English andadopting a public persona implied a separation from Mexicanculture. Once the Rodriguezes gave up speaking Spanish withtheir children, their entire life became more public. They hada telephone installed and Rodriguez' mother learned the names ofall the people on the block. When Rodriguez and his siblingscame home from school, there would often be neighbourhoodchildren playing in the house. Rodriguez' story sounds like astory of successful social integration: not only did Rodriguezmake rapid progress at school, but the family also became lessisolated from their Anglo-American neighbourhood. Rodriguez doesnot speak much about Mexican culture in Hunger of Memory. Hebriefly describes his intimate relationship with hisgrandmother, whose favourite he was when he was a boy. And it is144almost solely through this grandmother that "ethnic" contentfinds its way into the book:She was a woman in her eighties during the first decade ofmy life. A mysterious woman to me, my only livinggrandparent. A woman of Mexico. The woman in long blackdresses that reached down to her shoes. My one relative whospoke no word of English. She had no interest in gringo society. She remained completely aloof from the public.Protected by her daughters. Protected even by me when wewent to Safeway together and I acted as her translator.Eccentric woman. Soft. Hard. (36)Knowing that "ethnic" anecdote brings autobiographies closer tofiction and makes them more attractive to the public, Rodriguez'editor suggested: "'You should write your book in stories--notas a series of essays. Let's have more Grandma'" (7). But thatis not what Rodriguez wanted to write about, since it is not, ashe puts it, his "most real life" (7). He claims that he is nota part of his grandmother's culture.When Rodriguez explains that the culture of the classroomwas completely "antithetical" ("On Becoming a Chicano" 46) towhat his parents knew, he seems to be thinking of their lack offormal education. Circumstances forced his father to leaveschool in Mexico at the age of eight. Twelve years later, in theforties, he arrived in America where he worked in a successionof factory and warehouse jobs. Rodriguez' mother emigrated toAmerica with her parents when she was a teenager. She wasawarded a high school diploma "by teachers too careless or busyto notice that she hardly spoke English" (53). Encouraged by hersuccess, she learned typing and shorthand and worked as asecretary in positions where "a knowledge of Spanish was145required." Unlike many Mexican-Americans at that time,Rodriguez' parents came to America with the intention to stayand integrate into American society. Their lack of formaleducation, however, limited their career opportunities andeconomic success. Acculturation, the acquisition of the dominantlanguage and adoption of the dominant group's style of life,does not automatically lead to economic and political equality.Although Rodriguez' writes his story as a chronicle of thetransformation from outsider to insider, from immigrant toAmerican, it is at the same time an assessment of the price thathad to be paid for achievement. Rodriguez writes: "I grew upvictim to a disabling confusion. As I grew fluent in English, Ino longer could speak Spanish with confidence" (28) and headmits that he never stopped feeling guilty about having becomea part of the Anglo-American world. Ironically, the dominantculture still regards Rodriguez--unlike Eva Hoffman--as aminority writer. Although he chose to leave one culture behindand live in another, Rodriguez could not and still cannot escapeconfrontation with his Mexicanness and the paradoxes involved inhis situation. As a boy, Rodriguez was confronted directly withhis parents' culture whenever visitors arrived from Mexico.Unlike his siblings who managed to say the "necessary words"(28), Rodriguez was unable to respond. Those visitors were takenaback by his inability to speak "'su proprio idioma'" and calledhim "pocho," (29) a derogatory name for a Mexican who, inassimilating into American society, tries to blot out his own146cultural background. His uncle blamed Rodriguez' parents forbetraying their culture. Ironically, Rodriguez is the one withthe darkest complexion in his family. He is, what he, in arecent article,4 calls a "throwback":I am the only one in the family whose face is severely cutto the line of ancient Indian ancestors. My face ismournfully long, in the classical Indian manner; my profilesuggests one of those beak-nosed Mayan sculptures--theeaglelike face upturned, open-mouthed, against thedeserted, primitive sky. (115)Mexicans easily recognize in Rodriguez a fellow countryman. Whenhe was a boy, it happened frequently that Mexicans addressed himin Spanish asking directions and, as he recalls an event inHunger of Memory, an old woman steadied herself against him whenshe boarded a bus, murmuring something in Spanish and thankinghim with a kiss. Rodriguez claims that he would have beenhappier about his public success had he not been reminded bythese intimate sounds which were uttered in public of what hishome used to be like before it lost its intimacy and privacy.Rodriguez is obsessed with the distinction between privateand public, individual and communal space. According to VictorTurner, the liminal phase in a rite of passage is characterizedby the fact that the initiates are left to themselves whenconfronted with the initiating experience. They need to breakaway from society to return to the same or another society aftera period of solitary trial. Rodriguez points out: "To succeed inthe classroom, I needed psychologically to sever my ties with4 "Mixed Blood," Harper's Magazine, November 1991.147Spanish. Spanish represented an alternative culture as well asanother language-and the basis of my deepest sense ofrelationship to my family" ("Going Home Again" 17). Thedistribution of the four linguistic categories which HenriGobard suggests to describe a person's relationship to language--vernacular, vehicular, referential, and mythic language--mayvary from one ethnic group to another and from one individual ofthat group to another. Rodriguez claims:Once upon a time the language I used at home was a ruralMexican Spanish, a working-class Spanish of limitedvocabulary, which was playful, colloquial, richlyemotional. Mine, I must stress, was an intensely privateSpanish. It was a language rarely used in public by myfamily. ("An American Writer" 5)Rodriguez argues in his autobiography that if the Spanish hisfamily spoke at home had been a public Spanish, he would havehad no problem becoming a "bilingual" student. He points outthat what he needed to learn in school was that he had the rightto speak the public language of the "gringos." If his classmateshad been taught a second language like Spanish or French, theycould have regarded it as another public language. But whatRodriguez could not believe is that he was able to speak "asingle public language" (19). It was the exclusively private useof Spanish that made it inferior in Rodriguez' eyes. Since thefamily was completely cut off from the Chicano community, theynever used Spanish as a vehicular language. In public, Rodriguezwould be embarrassed by the fact that his father did not masterEnglish as a vehicular language:There were many times like the night at a brightly lit148gasoline station (a blaring white memory) when I stooduneasily, hearing my father. He was talking to a teenagedattendant. I do not recall what they were saying, but Icannot forget the sounds my father made as he spoke. At onepoint his words slid together to form one word--sounds asconfused as the threads of blue and green oil in the puddlenext to my shoes. His voice rushed through what he had leftto say. And, toward the end, reached falsetto notes,appealing to his listener's understanding. I looked away tothe lights of passing automobiles. I tried not to hearanymore. But I heard only too well the calm, easy tones inthe attendant's reply. Shortly afterward, walking towardhome with my father, I shivered when he put his hand on myshoulder. The very first chance that I got, I evaded hisgrasp and ran on ahead into the dark, skipping with feignedboyish exuberance. (15)Nor did Spanish serve the family as the language of literaturein the form of fiction and poetry. Rodriguez explains in theprologue that, although he learned how to read Spanish at theuniversity and has no difficulty reading Marquez and Lorcatoday, his parents have never heard of these authors. Theirreading consists of the Bible, newspapers, and recipes. Afterthe intervention of the children's school, however, Englishbecame the vehicular language which the family used at homeinstead of vernacular Spanish.When Rodriguez abandoned Spanish as the private andembraced English as the referential language, the language ofthe classroom, he alienated himself from any community. Englishreplaced--or in Deleuze and Guattari's words deterritorialized--Spanish at home. English, however, did not automatically take onthe emotional quality of Spanish. For Rodriguez, Englishremained the language of culture, a written rather than a spokenlanguage, a language that facilitated a bond with the Britishand Anglo-American literary canon but not with his peers or with149his family. Rodriguez opens his book with a reference toShakespeare's The Tempest: "I have taken Caliban's advice. Ihave stolen their books. I will have some run of this isle" (3).Caliban gives this advice to Stephano whom he tries to encourageto kill Prospero and take his place as the ruler over theisland. Caliban knows that Prospero derives his power from hisbooks and ultimately from language. Like Caliban, Rodriguezrealized that embracing the oppressor's culture, was the key tobecoming like his gringo teachers. In struggling to achieve thisgoal Rodriguez turned into a "scholarship boy." Rodriguez takesthis expression from Richard Hoggart's The Uses Of Literacy (1957) which he quotes extensively in his autobiography. Thescholarship boy, according to Hoggart, is of working-classbackground. He is most often only moderately talented and iswhat child psychologists would call an overachiever. What setshim apart from other students is the fact that he "chooses tobecome a student" ("The Achievement of Desire: PersonalReflections on Learning 'Basics '" 242) because he knows thateducation will change him. "He [the scholarship boy] is at thefriction-point of two cultures" (239), says Hoggart, andRodriguez concludes that he "does not straddle, cannotreconcile, the two great opposing cultures of his life" (66),namely the culture of his teachers and that of his parents. Ascholarship boy, according to Hoggart, is an anxious student wholacks self-confidence and is extremely ambitious. If he grows upin a language other than the language of the classroom, he150strives to approximate the accents of his teachers. His greatestwish is to become exactly like his teachers which takes himfurther and further away from home. Rodriguez describes hissolitary routine in the following way:After dinner, I would rush to a bedroom with papers andbooks. As often as possible, I resisted parental pleas to'save lights' by coming to the kitchen to work. I kept somuch, so often, to myself. Sad. Enthusiastic. Troubled bythe excitement of coming upon new ideas. Eager. Fascinatedby the promising texture of a brand-new book. I hoarded thepleasures of learning. Alone for hours. Enthralled.Nervous. I rarely looked away from my books--or back on mymemories. Nights when relatives visited and the front roomswere warmed by Spanish sound, I slipped quietly out of thehouse. (51)Rodriguez "became more comfortable reading or writing prose thantalking to a kitchen filled with listeners" ("On Becoming aChicano" 47). He points out that he "entered high school havingread hundreds of books" (63). One day he came across a newspaperarticle about the retirement of an English professor whichincluded a list of the hundred most important books which theprofessor claimed had made him an educated man. Rodriguezmanaged to read his way through the list within several months.His bookishness opened for him the door to prestigiousuniversities. Rodriguez was the first in his family to leavehome in order to go to college--a separation that confirmedphysically the emotional distance between him and his parents.Since it was British literature that interested Rodriguezmost, he decided to specialize in the English Renaissance. Itmight have been the urge to trace his adopted culture back toits infancy that motivated Rodriguez to become an English151Renaissance scholar. He, however, obviously never felt inclinedto become a scholar of Spanish Renaissance literature. When some"enthusiastic Chicano undergraduates" ("Going Home Again" 24)asked him to teach a course on the Chicano novel, he told themthat the Chicano novel was not "capable of dealing with Chicanoexperience adequately," because "most Chicanos were notliterate." Furthermore, since the majority of Chicano novelsdescribed only the individual "in transit between Mexican andAmerican cultures" (24), the Chicano novel was not "true" to the"communal sense of life" that characterizes Chicano culture.Rather than presenting a plausible argument, Rodriguez' responsereflects his unease with his ethnic background.Just as Hoffman claims that her decentered vision made heran expert in identifying alienation in literature, Rodriguezclaims that his sense of the divide between past and presentmade it easier for him than for most scholars to identify issuesin Renaissance pastoral--"a literature which records thefeelings of the courtly when confronted by the alternatives ofrural and rustic life" ("On Becoming a Chichano" 47). In "AnAmerican Writer" Rodriguez says that the writers who taught himthe most about the drama of his life are not American butBritish. And he tries to find the explanation in the fact that"a less racially diverse nation"--a very unrealistic view ofcontemporary Britain--realizes better that reasons for socialinequity are economic and not merely ethnic. D.H. Lawrence, theson of a coalminer and a schoolteacher, is an example, without152which, according to Rodriguez, he would not have been able towrite his own story. The attempt to bridge the gap betweenvernacular and referential language, the informal and theformal, that is personified by the character of Mellors in LadyChatterley's Lover anticipates for Rodriguez his own dilemma ofliving between two cultures.Not only did Rodriguez feel that the choice of his area ofinterest alienated him from his ethnic community, but also thechoice of the academic discipline as such. In his autobiographyhe says that he knew that by studying literature and becoming awriter he "violated the ideal of the macho" (128). According toRodriguez, the traditional Mexican ideal is that a man should be"fuerte," and "formal" (128), 'ugly,"strong,' and'formal.' To be formal, means to be serious and reliable. Formal also implies a male discourse that is very different from femalediscourse. Mexican men, according to Rodriguez, do not gossip orchat, nor is their style confessional or confidential. OctavioPaz, in his book El Laberinto de la Soledad (1950), describesthe Mexican man in the following way: "El 'macho' es un serhermetico, encerrado en sí mismo, capaz de guardarse y guardarlo que se le confia" (The Mexican man is a hermetic being,closed up in himself, capable of guarding himself and whateverhas been confided to him [28]). Rodriguez admits that inside thehouse he was quiet, but outside the house there would be no endto his flow of words. He became chatty and an expert in smalltalk. The stories and poetry that he wrote in high school153expressing his feelings would be awarded high grades. He alwaysfelt that there might be something "effeminate" (129) about hisattachment to literature. It was his father who teased him abouthis uncalloused hands, hands unfamiliar with physical work. Hismother, on the other hand, would scold him, when he came homedeeply tanned from playing in the sun. Dark skin impliedpoverty. She would ask him if he wanted to become like one ofthose braceros?5 Rodriguez, however, would look "in awe" (113)at those tanned, muscled, "frightening and fascinating" (114)men who came to downtown Sacramento to shop on Saturdaymornings. When he was a student at Stanford, he seized theopportunity of a summer construction job. At last, so Rodriguezhoped, he would gain admission to the male world of thelabourer. He was able to do the hard work and even enjoyed thephysical exertion and pain. But he also learned that a few weeksof physical labour could not teach him what it was like to bepoor and socially disadvantaged. He observes that the Chicanoconstruction workers whom he worked with that summer were notlos pobres. A group of Mexicans, however, who receivedinadequate payment for the rough job they had particularly beenhired for, struck him as utterly deprivileged. Being alienswithout a knowledge of English, they were not able to stand upfor their rights. Rodriguez argues that it is those people whoneed to be supported financially and by special educational5 Bracero is the name for a Mexican who works with hisbrazos, his arms.154programmes and not those who are already part of the system.Alienated as he might have been from his relatives and fromhis classmates, Rodriguez was a very successful student and wasawarded scholarships even before affirmative action wasimplemented. In other words, after having been separated fromhis parents' culture he became "reaggregated" (Turner) into theacademic community. For two reasons, however, he decided to turnhis back on this community. When he and his fellow studentsapplied for jobs in English departments all over the country,Rodriguez received numerous offers, whereas his colleaguesremained unsuccessful. Rodriguez suspected that "his race hadgiven [him] an advantage over other applicants" (168). One ofhis professors confirmed this suspicion by commenting that hewas not surprised that Rodriguez was receiving so many joboffers, since "'not many schools are going to pass up the chanceto get a Chicano with a Ph.D. in Renaissance literature'" (169).Rodriguez argues that affirmative-action programmes did notreally help those who needed help, but turned those who hadalready been successful on their own merits into token figures.There was yet another factor that prompted him to turn his backon academia. In order to avoid distraction from his work,Rodriguez went to London to finish writing his thesis. Here, inthis heterotopic space of chosen exile, he experienced a kind ofepiphany. After having done research for a couple of months inthe reading room of the British Museum, it became obvious toRodriguez that he had joined "a lonely community" (69). He155wondered if his dissertation was much more than "an act ofsocial withdrawal:"Whenever I opened a text that hadn't been used for years,I realized that my special interests and skills united meto a mere handful of academics. We formed an exclusive--eccentric!--society, separated from others who would nevercare or be able to share our concerns. (The pages I turnedwere stiff like layers of dead skin.) I began to wonder:Who, beside my dissertation director and a few facultymembers, would ever read what I wrote? (70)He started longing for a more "passionate" (71) and less lonelylife. Rodriguez passed through a phase of nostalgia for theintimacy he had experienced in his early childhood and for areal community. Eventually, he entered a second phase of"reaggregation" by becoming a public opponent of bilingualeducation and affirmative action. Besides articles on education,Rodriguez has published articles and a book, Days of Obligation: An Argument with My Mexican Father (1992) about Mexico and itsmestizo culture. These articles and the book, so it seems, arean attempt at reterritorialization. They are an indication thathe now grants Mexico more space in his life and that he ispossibly coming to terms with the Mexican part of himself. Inwriting Hunger of Memory he also tried to connect with acommunity outside of academia, a community of middle-classreaders. In "An American Writer" Rodriguez confesses:I became a writer because I hungered for communalassurance. Applause. The good review. It was yourunderstanding that I desired. Some way out of the singlelife. So I wrote of my Mexican house, but in the words ofthe city. (13)And in his autobiography he imagines his reader as someone who"has had a long education and that his [sic] society ... is156often public (un gringo)" (182). In the process of writing hisautobiography Rodriguez experiences the paradox of being mostpublic when he is most private. He admits that he is writingabout things his mother asked him not to talk about therebybetraying her sense of privacy. Rodriguez was inspired, so hesays, by the diaries of the seventeenth-century Puritans. Whatimpressed him most when he first read Protestant autobiographiesas a schoolboy was that the Protestants were "so public abouttheir spiritual lives." And this was because "they wereotherwise alone in their faith" (110).In the third section of Hunger of Memory, "Credo,"Rodriguez describes his relationship with Catholicism. TheCatholic Church is the only place where his private life and hispublic life merged. The Mexican Catholicism at home differed insome ways from the Irish Catholicism at school, but his parentsfelt "at ease" in the Irish-American church. The church"mediated between" (96) Rodriguez' private and public life. Ingoing to church together every Sunday morning, the family couldpublicly celebrate their privacy. They were an intimate groupand yet a part of the parish. Mass "mystified" Rodriguez "forbeing a public and a private event" (96). Each worshipper hadthe freedom to pray individually while he or she was still apart of the community responding in unison to the progression ofthe liturgy. Rodriguez' sense of belonging in the churchcommunity was strongest when he became an altar boy at the ageof twelve. At this time Latin was still the official language of157the Roman Catholic Church. Latin, which here represents the"mythic" language of Gobard's tetraglossie, would "encourageprivate reflection" (99) since the words were familiar but notnecessarily comprehensible to everyone. But then the priest'svoice would call to public prayer, "the reminder that anindividual has the aid of the Church in his life" (99).Rodriguez feels nostalgia for the time when the church servicecould still hold its private and its public aspects in balance.With the replacement of Latin by English as the language ofreligion, mass has become more public; it has become a ritual ofwords. The "mythic" language is no longer a language of thebeyond: "One's focus is upon this place. This time. The moment.Now" (101). Roman Catholicism, too, has become assimilated, andas a result, less private and more public.Catholicism has become part of Rodriguez' public life, justas Judaism is a part of Hoffman's. And just as Rodriguez in hisassimilation process "blended Catholicism" with "insights fromSartre and Zen and Buber and Miltonic Protestantism. And Freud"(104), Hoffman developed an "equation" "between Jewishness anda kind of secular humanism" (144). Members of the self-madeAmerican intellectual elite, Rodriguez and Hoffman both grapplewith the difficulty of constructing an identity that issimultaneously "American" and "ethnic." By writing theirautobiographies they are trying to come to terms with theirethnic heritage. At the same time they celebrate their Americanidentity writing for a white middle-class audience. Hoffman and158Rodriguez have come to the city to compensate for the loss oftheir origins and of their vernacular. Contemporary citydwellers seek their own micro-significations, private signswithin the public sphere. Rodriguez claims: "And, in some broadsense, my writing is political because it concerns my movementaway from the company of family and into the city. This was mycoming of age: I became a man by becoming a public man" (7).Hoffman and Rodriguez write in the language of the city. Bothautobiographies are rhetorically structured acts of publicconfession in a language that is very stylized. Both imitateconversational speech in their writing in order to createintimacy with the reader. Rodriguez' style is characterized byellipsis and parataxis which are both typical of conversationallanguage. The most salient typographical feature of his text isthe excessive use of parentheses and italics. Rodriguez modifieshis sentences by remarks which he sets aside by parentheses thusevoking the intimate tone of a letter or a diary entry. Thissort of aside gives the illusion that there is still somethingmore private to say. In Hoffman's autobiography theproliferation of dashes has the same function as the parenthesesin Hunger of Memory. Both authors not only know but haveexperienced in their own lives the importance of language in thesocial construction of reality. Both argue in theirautobiographies that literacy has social transformational power.Ethnicity and race stop being socially determining categoriesonce formal education has performed its trick as the great159leveller. "In Beverly Hills," says Rodriguez, "will this monstermake a man" (3), and Hoffman confesses that her public self isthe "most American thing" (250) about her.Neither Hoffman nor Rodriguez feel comfortable living inthe "borderlands." They do not celebrate mestizaje. Both writershave the tendency to present reality in terms of binaryoppositions. In their autobiographies they take for granted thatthe private and the public roles of the self are separable.Neither of them questions the role of institutionalizededucation in shaping the self and in perpetuating the interestsof the dominant culture. While Cisneros and Mara demonstrate howsociety is split by gender, Hoffman and Rodriguez suggest thatit is class which divides the world into the stigmatized cultureof home and the privileged one of the classroom.160Chapter Four: Re-writing the Bildungsroman: Angelika Fremd'sHeartland (1989) and Caterina Edwards' The Lion's Mouth (1982)For a language is like a human being, diffident at firstand distant, difficult to approach, to understand. It hasa resistance that goes with its instinct for survival. Yetthere is a lot of sympathy in a language, and a willingnessto co-operate, to allow newcomers to its secrets, and toits kingdom, which for every language is a different one.(Antigone Kefala, Alexia, a Tale of Two Cultures)Learning by Heart: Angelika Fremd's HeartlandThe Bildungsroman, the traditional genre for the depiction of ayoung man's spiritual and psychological development, has becomea genre favoured by many contemporary women writers and manymigrant women writers in particular.' The term Bildungsroman wasintroduced into the language of literary scholarship in theearly nineteenth century by German scholar Karl von Morgensternwho applied it to the novels of Friedrich Maximilian Klinger"which he placed ... above Goethe's novels in terms of masculinestrength of character" (Martini 9). For the humanistphilosophical scholars in nineteenth-century Germany Bildung, aword which defies neat translation into English, implied theharmonious cultivation of the whole person through the exercise1 A few examples are: Lisa Alther's Kinflicks (1975),Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman (1969), Verena Stefan'sHdutungen (1975), Joan Barfoot's Gaining Ground (1978), JoanDidion's Play It As It Lays (1970), Margaret Laurence's TheDiviners (1970), Marge Piercy's Fly Away Home (1985), SandraCisneros' The House on Mango Street (1984), Isabella Rios'Victuum (1976), Katherine Vlassie's Children Of Byzantium(1987), Tina DeRosa's Paper Fish (1980), Antigone Kefala's TheIsland (1984), Toni Morrison's Tar Baby (1981), Alice Walker'sThe Color Purple (1983) and Beatrice Culleton's In Search of April Raintree (1983).161of reason and feeling. The idea of Bildunq thus carries with itthe assumption of an autonomous self which can be influenced bythe environment but nevertheless has a certain freedom in itsresponse. The Bildunqsroman, according to Morgenstern,fl, ...presents more the people and surroundings influencing thehero and explaining to us the gradual formation (Bildunq) of hisinner self which is to be presented'" (Martini 17). SuccessfulBildunq requires a social context that will facilitate theunfolding of inner capacities, leading the young man fromignorance and innocence to wisdom and maturity. As Susanne Howedefines it, the hero of the typical Bildunqsroman sets out on his way through the world, meets with reversesusually due to his own temperament, falls in with variousguides and counsellors, makes many false starts in choosinghis friends, his wife, and his life work, and finallyadjusts himself in some way to the demands of his time andenvironment by finding a sphere of action in which he maywork effectively. (4)The classic version of the Bildunqsroman seeks to solve clashesbetween individual and society.2 The critical discussion aroundthe Bildunqsroman has been unsatisfactory because there is noconsensus on the meaning of the term. Most critics agree,however, that novels of education or development written bywomen differ in content and structure from the Bildunqsromane 2 Howe, among others, has drawn attention to the differencesbetween the German and the English Bildunqsroman. The latter ismore concerned with class conflicts than its German counterpartand generally deals with a more complex social and politicalreality because of earlier and faster industrial development inEngland.162written by men.3The few early examples of novels of development written bywomen, from Fanny Burney's Evelina: Or, A Young Lady's Entrance into the World (1778) to George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss (1860), show that the female protagonist's exploration of hersocial milieu is subject to all kinds of restrictions. Femaleeducation is inextricably linked to marriage.4 In the earlyfemale Entwicklunqsroman the aim of the heroine's development"is not life within the larger community as it is for the malehero, but rather marriage with the partner of her choice"(Baruch 341). The female novel of education in the earlytwentieth century is a tale of compromise and disillusionment.As the protagonist struggles to escape an oppressive childhoodtowards self-fulfillment, she discovers that life offers notlimitless possibilities but is a permanent struggle in a hostileenvironment. Contemporary minority writers, and among themmigrant writers, re-write the story of a young man's coming toterms with himself and society by self-reflexively revaluatingthe goals of traditional Bildunq and subversively restructuring3 Melitta Gerhard was among the first to distinguish theBildunqsroman from the Entwicklunqsroman (novel of development).She sees the Bildunqsroman, which is mostly concerned with amale protagonist's formation, as a subgenre of theEntwicklunqsroman.4 Elaine Hoffman Baruch claims: "From Emma to Jane Eyre toMadame Bovary to Middlemarch to Anna Karenina to Portrait of a Lady to Lady Chatterley's Lover and beyond, the novel presentsa search for self, an education of the mind and feelings. Butunlike the male bildunqsroman, the feminine bildunqs [sic] takesplace in or on the periphery of marriage. That is its moststriking characteristic" (335).163the traditionally male genre.Female socialization and cultural assimilation processesboth represent a marginal group's absorption into mainstreampatriarchal society. The feminist and the migrant Bildungsromanturn into what can be called an anti-Bildungsroman in order toshow how the dominant culture obstructs personal development.The woman of colour faces a variety of obstacles in the processof self-development. Migrant women of colour are doublymarginalized. As Sandra Cisneros and Rachna Mara demonstrate intheir texts, they often have to contend with racism and sexismfrom the dominant culture as well as from their own family andcommunity. The American or Commonwealth woman writer of Europeandescent faces problems of a different kind. Despite her marginalposition in the society she chooses to live in, she is, becauseof her European background, also implicated with the colonizer.'Writing from such a position she often displays an awareness ofdislocation within the literary traditions of her culturalbackground.6 The fiction of these writers tends to explorerelationships on different levels of the text. Doubleallegiances find expression in a web of cultural and literary5 One could argue that an Italian or a German migrant to theAmericas or Australia is not clearly linked to the colonizerssince his/her ancestors were not directly involved with thecolonization of these parts of the world. I am using the word"colonizers," however, in a sense that white European-descendedmigrants do enjoy particular privileges which are contingentupon being white.6 See Stephen Slemon, "Unsettling the Empire: ResistanceTheory for the Second World," World Literature Written inEnglish 30.2 (1990): 38.164references. The Bildunqsroman, which is concerned with theindividual's position within a network of social forces offersitself as a form for such exploration.Angelika Fremd's Heartland is divided into forty-fourepisodic chapters, each of which is built around a dilemma whichthe twelve-year-old protagonist Inge tries to solve. AlthoughInge's story follows a certain chronology, the individualepisodes can be shifted around to a certain extent. Thisstrategy, which reminds one of the picaresque novel rather thanof the Bildunqsroman, evokes a sense of fragmentation anddisruption that mirrors Inge's search for identity as anadolescent girl on the threshold of womanhood and as a migrantin a new society. Inge is introduced to the reader as her familyarrives in the small logging town of Eejon in Victoria in thesummer of 1956 after the family has escaped to the West fromEast Berlin. Fremd describes Inge in her relationship to hereight-year old half-sister Monika, her pregnant mother Lisl andher stepfather Karl. Karl lost his job as a history teacher inGermany when it was discovered that he had been an SS memberduring the war. Ironically, he is--Fremd loves to manipulatecultural stereotypes--not a tall blonde Germanic type but a"swarthy, dark-haired man of medium height" (2). The family islater joined by Lisl's mother Emma. The relationship betweenmother and daughter, which lacks warmth and understanding, iscentral to the novel. Patterns of socialization repeatthemselves in the three generations of women. Emma resents Lisl165for having Inge, an illegitimate child, and makes her marry Karlwhom Lisl despises. Not having come to terms with her ownsexuality, Lisl watches the physical changes of puberty in Ingewith disgust. When a neighbour advises Lisl to buy Inge herfirst bra, Lisl's animosity reveals itself:For a moment Inge saw in Lisl's eyes a look which she foundhard to define. It remained though ever after, indeliblyimprinted in her consciousness like a foreign particle,abrasive, tearing, cutting her off from her own feelingsabout herself. It was a look of envy, anger, tinged withhatred. Inge felt darkly that she and her mother were notof the same flesh as she had assumed, and that theloyalties she expected to be hers by birthright were beingalienated by the dictates of the flesh. They had becomerivals in the world of women. (54-55)The family dynamics becomes obvious on the first page. When theyarrive Inge picks an apple from the tree in the overgrown gardenand holds it up to her mother. This gesture reveals Inge's mostdesperate need to meet with her mother's approval, which inspite of her efforts she never gets. It also casts her in therole of Eve, temptress and seductress, a role that is imposedupon her throughout the novel not only by the men, whose sexualvictim she becomes, but also by the older women. Therelationship of Inge and Lisl reflects the first role reversalbetween parent and child and between male and female. After all,Inge offers the apple not to her step-father but to her mother.Patterns of reversal abound in Heartland as one of theoppositional strategies' to colonial discourse.7 Ross Chambers argues that oppositional behaviour "has theextremely tricky ability to erode, insidiously and almostinvisibly, the very power from which it derives" (2). Reversalof discourse is, as Mikhail Bakhtin has demonstrated in his166The family members personify different migrant reactions toa new environment and culture: rage, arrogance and withdrawal,and the urge to reconstruct the old country. Where Monika fightsher environment with anger--she almost kills her baby brotherout of jealousy--, Lisl rebuffs her neighbours and becomesemotionally inaccessible to her husband and children. Karl isobsessed by replacing their weatherbeaten timber home by aBavarian-style house with a peaked roof and a wooden verandahencircling the top storey.8 Only Inge tries to assimilate byimitating her classmates and learning English with a vengeance."Why can't you just fit in like I do," she confronts Monika and"Why do you have to be a fir tree amongst a forest of eucalypts[sic] ?" (43). "Fitting in" is a matter of survival for Inge.She has reached the critical age when adolescents seek rolemodels. Since she cannot find a role model within her family sheturns elsewhere for guidance.How does Inge manage to "fit in"? Half way through thebook Inge is described as having a revelatory experience inreading Henry Handel Richardson's novel The Getting of Wisdom (1910), the first Ktinstlerroman written in English by a woman.9theory of carnivalization, an effective strategy to subvertauthority.8 In New World literature, the European man is oftendepicted as planning to build the dream house. F.P. Grove'sFruits of the Earth (1933) is an example that immediately comesto mind.9 Maurice Beebe identifies Mme de Stael's Corinne (1807)as the model of the female KUnstlerroman.167Richardson was an expatriate Australian woman writing under amale pseudonym. '-c) Inge paraphrases the story:It's ... about a girl who goes to a strict, posh girls'school. Her family is very poor and she has a hard timetrying to fit in. I love the ending. She says that for eachsquare peg, meaning herself, a suitable hole willultimately be found. (80)The irony in this last sentence escapes Inge. Richardson's noveltells the story of Laura Tweedle Rambotham, whose mothersacrifices her own life to be able to afford Laura's educationat a Ladies' College in Melbourne. The Getting of Wisdom is inmany ways an anti-Bildungsroman. The wisdom Laura acquires isthat in order to succeed she must suppress her naturalcuriosity, spontaneity and imagination. To be able to "fit in"Laura has to do exactly what Monika accuses Inge of doing: "Youcrawl, Inge, and you lie to yourself. This isn't better thanhome. It's shabby and the kids at school are stupid, realcountry bumpkins. You just act as if everything is lovely tomake yourself popular..." (44).Heartland  is a re-writing of The Getting of Wisdom froma migrant's perspective." The issues of class are turned intoissues of ethnicity. The fact that Fremd has Inge quote thepassage from Richardson's novel out of context shows that Ingehas not learned her lesson yet. Inge breaks off before theconcluding paragraph which says that those who find it difficult10 Richardson, born in Ballarat in 1870, lived in variousparts of Germany from the ages of eighteen to thirty-three. Twoof her novels and several short stories are set in Germany.11 See Sneja Gunew's review of Heartland.168to fit into society can find a more satisfying environment fortheir creativity only in the world of art, apart from society.Richardson here inverts Goethe's idea that life is an art whichmay be learned and makes it clear that for the woman writerthere is no reconciliation between life and art. Richardson'sheroine, at first taking the wrong path, is looking for aliterary model for her own first attempts at writing to earn hermembership to the school's Literary Society. After havingdismissed Ibsen's A Doll's House (1879) as distasteful--this isironic, since Ibsen was, next to Nietzsche, one of the writerswhom Richardson most highly admired--Laura decides to write aromance modelled after Walter Scott. Her appropriation of themaster plot turns out to be a complete failure. Her audienceridicules her for attempting to write about something she hasnot experienced and dismisses it as "second-hand rubbish" (224).In her third attempt, which this time meets with generalapproval, Laura describes an excursion to the hills of her hometown with her brothers and sister "into which she had worked anadventure with some vagrant blacks" (226). Ironically, Laura'stale is not based on experience but an act of her imagination,the kind of romantic adventure that her audience wanted to hear.By having the Literary Society accept as truth what is fiction,Richardson unmasks the hypocrisy of its double standards.Richardson criticizes the school system that teaches girls toconform to the values of society, a system that stresses theimportance of learning facts and historical dates and does not169encourage critical thinking. Laura decides to give A Doll's House a second chance and in a revelatory moment that is echoedin Inge's reading of The Getting of Wisdom, she gets a glimpseof what can be learned from Nora's experience. Richardsonsardonically ends her novel with a glance at some of the mosttalented girls' futures: "Within six months of leaving school,M.P. married and settled down in her native township andthereafter she was forced to adjust the rate of her progress tothe steps of halting little feet. Cupid went a-governessing, andspent the best years of her life in the obscurity of the bush"(271). Only the aspiring Laura, the end of The Getting of Wisdom gives hope to believe, will learn "tiber sich hinweg zu tanzen"as the Nietzschean quotation prefacing the last chapter seems toimply.The Getting of Wisdom is not Inge's first attempt atfinding a role model of womanhood in fiction. Like so manywomen, Inge grows up with stories which create images of thegood and the bad mother, the beautiful and the ugly daughterfostering rivalry among women. Heartland abounds in allusions tothe fairy tales of the brothers Grimm,12 such as "Schneewittchenund die sieben Zwerge" and "Aschenputtel," which thrive ontwisted mother-daughter relationships. Inge has not yet learnedto tell her own story. It is only on the very last page thatInge awakens to her creative powers. In an earlier phase of role12 Grimms' fairy tales, claims Gunew in her review ofHeartland, "revealed the family romance as Gothic nightmare longbefore Freud" (8).170modelling "she became fascinated by female characters who werea source of comfort to the men they loved" (33) which she findsin titles such as Kathleen Winsor's Forever Amber (1944) andMika Waltari's The Egyptian (1945). Carol Christ remarks:Women live in a world where women's stories rarely havebeen told from their own perspectives. The storiescelebrated in culture are told by men. ... Women have livedin the interstices between their own vaguely understoodexperience and the shapings given to experience by thestories of men. The dialectic between experience andshaping experience through storytelling has not been inwomen's hands. (4-5)Some of the other texts that Fremd alludes to are TheodorStorm's Der Schimmelreiter, Schikaneder's Die ZauberflOte, andCarlo Gozzi's Turandot. They are stories of initiation in whichat least one of the characters has to undergo a rite of passage.These texts--all written by men--are geographically andtemporally dislocated, in that they are transplanted into thecontemporary milieu of Fremd's text from eighteenth andnineteenth-century European culture. They serve Fremd as astorehouse of motifs, themes and images which she then assemblesin new ways in the re-writing process. The white horse ofStorm's Der Schimmelreiter haunts Heartland as a leitmotif.After Inge's confession of Karl's incestuous assaults, Lislrides to her death on the white mare. Lisl, like the protagonistof Der Schimmelreiter, is defeated by the people andcircumstances around her. She is a victim of her rigidupbringing and the events of the war that forced her to sell herbody to Karl whom she does not love.Along with Richardson's Heartland, Fremd uses another novel171as a model: A Difficult Love (1987) written by German-bornAustralian Manfred Jurgensen. Jurgensen's narrator talks abouthis love affair with the German-born Amalia, a story of fatalattraction. Amalia, mother of five children and twice married,is described as a nymphomaniac. Towards the end of the book,after Amalia had committed suicide, Jurgensen interrupts thenarrator's relation in order to present Amalia's story fromdifferent perspectives. Her sister gives a six-page-long accountof their childhood. Amalia's childhood closely resembles Inge's.The parallels are indeed too uncanny to be ignored. Fremd,however, tells Amalia's story from a woman's point of view andgrants the story of Amalia's/Inge's "Bildung" more space in herown novel.Unlike Amalia, Inge escapes from the life-denyingatmosphere of her home with David, a not so handsome prince, onhis motorbike--an ironic twist to the prototypical fairy taleending. Inge throws most of her clothes and her German booksaway and takes only The Getting of Wisdom and 1066 and All That,Sellar's and Yeatman's satire on textbook history. According tothe "Compulsory Preface" of the latter book, "[h]istory is notwhat you thought. It is what you can remember. All other historydefeats itself" (v). Fremd dedicates her book to her children"for whom knowing the past will free them from repeating it."From her furtive reading of her grandmother's diary, whichwitnesses the sufferings of German women during the wars, Ingereaps a sense of her place in history:172By the time she had cried herself dry, she felt a sense ofpride and history. She had been singled out to bedifferent. A child fathered by war and destruction. Perhapsit was her task in life to overcome that history, to beginagain, for herself and her family, to be a mender ofshards, the broken fragment of their lives. The thoughtenthralled her and gave her hope. (137)Although the reader is relieved to see that Inge is being savedfrom Karl, her escape can only be accomplished by accepting helpfrom a man and by deserting her sister Monika. Before leavingher room Inge catches her reflection in the mirror: "Her imagemade her uncomfortable. 'You don't love him,' it hissed. 'He'llmake you live his way, fill you with his foreignness. Takecare'" (158). Inge disregards this warning and leaves. Inge'sescape on the motorbike--lighting out for the territory--mirrorsLaura's exhilarating run down the central avenue away from heryounger sister Pin and the school in The Getting of Wisdom. Inorder to prepare for the run, Laura gets rid of her hat, glovesand books, the confining trappings of institutionalizedwomanhood and Bildung. Both novels demonstrate that the femalequest for identity is not a socially sanctioned process butoften anti-social and the result of compromise.For women and migrants alike the alternatives are eitherto subscribe to conformity or to be ostracized. Monika is theonly character who remains true to herself throughout the book,but she is left in the end with her brutal step-father and nohope for a better life in the future. She refuses to developInge's self-betraying skills of adjustment for the sake ofsocial survival:173Artful at adjusting, chameleon-like in her outwardexpression, she [Inge] absorbed into herself the shapes,colours and sounds of her surroundings. She mimicked themonotonous speech rhythms she heard, feeling instantly andwith dismay that faces grimaced when the rise and fall ofher voice became too foreign, or an emotional phrase,calling for commitment in the listener, crept into herlanguage. (59)When Inge is having her first period, she also has an allergicreaction, which the doctor diagnoses as an ailment "thatmigrants were especially prone to" (34). Monika draws theconnection that escapes Inge: "'If being grown-up makes youbleed and being a migrant makes your hands go purple, then Idon't want to be a woman or a migrant!'" (34). By repeatedlydrawing the analogy between the debilitating processes of femalesocialization in patriarchal society and those of assimilationinto a dominant culture, Fremd rejects a melting-pot ideology asa form of integration. To succumb to assimilation and thusbecome a culturally blank slate is compared to a woman tradingher body for social security or prestige. By contrastingMonika's and Inge's self-development processes and therebydemonstrating that there is no smooth and single way ofintegration into a new society, Fremd stresses the individualgains and losses in the process. At the same time, however, shemakes it clear that the problems of integration cannot beovercome by an individual effort such as Inge's desperateattempt to assimilate. Monika is a disconcerting figure with adisturbing voice. She is completely exiled within the family aswell as the school world and does not relate to anybody butInge. The rest of the family more or less ignores her. Her174occasional acid and precocious comments on the other characters'behavior give her something of Gunther Grass' Oskar Matzerathwho beats his tin drum when he wishes to protest against theworld of Bildung. According to Francois Jost, the traditionalBildunqsroman has only one central character (129). By elevatingthe marginal(ized) Monika into the position of a secondprotagonist, Fremd undermines the convention of the single focusin the Bildunqsroman. At school Monika refuses to speak. Herspace is the edge, the backyard of the house, "where she startedto build what she called an alternative home" (29). Unlike Ingeshe does not feel at ease with the Australian fauna and flora.Monika experiences a state of deterritorialization. She isfacing cultural and linguistic deprivation without having thepower or the wish to change.Inge, on the other hand, has turned into a cultural"chameleon" trying to become as indistinguishable as possiblefrom her Australian classmates. She is associated with thecolour red, the colour of life energy and sexuality. Shereceives a red dress and a marcasite heart as gifts from two ofher admirers. She is also closely associated with blood: hermenstrual blood in the bed sheets, the blood that oozes down herlegs after her defloration, and her nightmares about vampiressucking her dry of her life spirit. This colour coding linksInge to the Australian desert, Australia's heartland, whoseearth is red. After her mother's death she moves in the familyhierarchy from margin to centre. She now assumes Lisl's place at175the head of the table under the family crest. As Inge graduallytakes the place of the mother, the adults regress into childhoodunder the pressure of the alien environment.By leaving the Old World language and literature behindand by the sudden impulse to become a writer in the New World,Inge is taking a first step towards reterritorialization: Shecaught the silvery tail of a word being drawn out of hersubconscious: Write--I will--write. In time I will write it alldown and then I will know what is true" (158). A sequel to thenovel would show whether or not Inge will succeed. Both TheGetting of Wisdom and Heartland refuse closure. By not givingtheir novels a sense of an ending, Richardson and Fremd subvertthe form of the classic Bildungsroman which re-establishes somesort of traditional order in the end. Furthermore, Fremd'sparody of the fairy tale's happy ending is a critique of suchfiction.Fremd subscribes to a poetics of bricolage andnomadologyfl--by criss-crossing literary references from bothOld World and New World literature in nomadic fashion in heru I am adopting the term from Stephen Muecke's article "TheDiscourse Of Nomadology: Phylums In Flux" who applies the ideasof nomadic living from Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari's Mille Plateaux to the nomadism of Australian Aborigines. For thenomad," Muecke points out, "Australia is still not divided intoeight 'states' or territories, it is criss-crossed with tracks"(25). Furthermore, he explains that the Aborigines establishkinship in "rhizomic" relations: "Through skin-group [sic]categories virtually all blacks in Australia can establishsignificant and specific relations with one another. This, ifnothing else, can be a basis of solidarity - as opposed to thepower relations imposed on them by historians using thepatriarchal and hierarchical model of the 'family tree'" (30).176text. The nomad who is always a bricoleur--someone who,according to Levi-Strauss, uses the means at hand--does notappropriate territory but "is always coming and going" (Muecke).The concept of nomadology, taken literally, challenges Europeannotions of settlement, and nomadology as a discursive strategychallenges notions of textual coherence and canonicity. WhileCisneros and Mara resort to circularity and interweaving toundermine patriarchal discourse, intertextuality and reversal ofdiscourse serve Fremd in subverting hierarchical structures.Family and institutionalized education, the traditionalmainstays of western society, are shown to fail in Heartland.Unlike in The House on Mango Street and Of Customs and Excise,female bonding and the female community are not sources ofalternative Bildunq in Heartland. In Fremd's novel therelationships between women are just as life denying as thosebetween the sexes. In re-writing the Bildunqsroman Fremddemonstrates how inadequate the form and content of the malegenre are to describe the experience of a migrant girl's comingof age. Writing and "writing back to" are shown as the onlymeans to confirm identity.177Learning by Acting: Caterina Edwards' The Lion's Mouth (1982)In Caterina Edwards' The Lion's Mouth the juxtaposition of Veniceand Edmonton serves as the geographical trope that expresses thecultural difference between the Old World and the New. The narratorwhose younger self is called Bianca and who seems to be in her latetwenties at the moment of writing, lives in Edmonton, which shecalls her "outer city" (46). Bianca left Venice, where she wasborn, at the age of eight when her parents decided to emigrate toCanada. She calls Venice her "inner city." The narrator describesher younger self as being "split into two seemingly inimicalhalves, not only between the time before and after, but through allmy growing years: Italy in summer, Canada in winter" (76).1Language alienates her from both countries. Just like Inge inHeartland, Bianca is ostracized by her classmates because of heraccent: "Gradually the mastery of the words, the properunderstanding came. Mastery of pronunciation took longer. Th wasparticularly difficult.... 'Listen to her. DIS. Listen to her'"(78). Eventually, Bianca adopts English as her referential languageand uses the vernacular Italian only to express her inner life, heremotions and desires. This makes it difficult for her to talk aboutart with Marco in Italian:Still, when I tried to answer you, the words on my tongue were1 In Anatomy Of Criticism Northrop Frye calls romance themythos of summer and irony and satire the mythos of winter. Iwould like to argue that the narrator's younger self asrepresented in Italy is her romantic self and that the oldernarrator living in Canada is an ironist.178English. I paused, I stuttered, searched for the Italianequivalents. I was smooth enough with the phrases of familyand home. But theory, abstract thought, seemed necessarilyEnglish, for it was the language in which I read....My mouthwouldn't open wide enough to let the words properly roll. TheCanadian style, tight and reserved, had been coded into mybody and could not be unlearned. (85)As Bianca points out in the very last sentence of the book, she canspeak Italian but she cannot write it.Like Heartland, The Lion's Mouth is an "ethnic" text in EliMandel's sense. Whereas the self-reflexive quality of Heartland ispartly created by extensive borrowing from other texts, Edwardscreates a self-reflexive text by framing her narrator's story witha prologue and an epilogue, which are both situated in the presentin the narrator's house in Edmonton.2 The narrator interrupts thestory in order to comment on her present life, the writing processand her past life in Canada, which excludes Marco. Edwards is self-consciously playing with the paradoxes that underlie allautobiographical writing. Shirley Neuman points at the paradoxes ofveracity, historicity and alterity in autobiography. She arguesthat the autobiographer leaps imaginatively in the selection of thematerial thereby presenting a version of the self, not the totalself. In this selective presentation the autobiographer may be2 Patricia Waugh in Metafiction: The Theory and Practice of Self-Conscious Fiction refers in her definition of the "frame"to Erving Goffman's definition in his Frame Analysis. She claimsthat the "frame" is one of the main devices of metafictionalnarratives. Some of such most obvious devices are the storywithin the story, chinese-box structures, and characterscommenting on their own fictional lives. The method "of showingthe function of literary conventions, of revealing theirprovisional nature, is to show what happens when theymalfunction. Parody and inversion are two strategies whichoperate in this way as frame-breaks" (30-1).179looking "upon conventions for the presentation of the self or theinterpretation of such a presentation" (322)--that is framing theself. The Lion's Mouth is a fictional autobiography camouflaged asboth a fictional biography and a novel. And just as in the case ofBiondi, Pirincci, Cisneros, Mara and Fremd, Caterina Edwards' ownethnic background had an influence on the topic and the structureof this novel. Caterina Edwards was born in England to an Englishfather and an Italian mother, and was raised in Alberta. In heryouth she visited Venice frequently.3In the biographical chapters of The Lion's Mouth, Biancarecounts three days in her Italian cousin's present life in Veniceup to his nervous breakdown, which she learns about in her aunt'sletter in the prologue. In writing Marco's biography, Bianca doesnot problematize the impossibility of having access to Marco'sthoughts and feelings and of witnessing the events in his presentlife from the geographical distance. Still, in the prologue thenarrator insists that she wants "to be the one who not only knowsbut illuminates the truth" (10). The description of the eventsduring these three days is interspersed with flashbacks to the timethat Marco and Bianca spent together during the latter's summervisits. There is a great epistemological distance between Biancaand the older narrator. The autobiographical 'I' becomes ashe/Bianca in the retrospective Venetian chapters, a strategy whichserves as another frame-breaking effect. While the narrator has3 When I asked Caterina Edwards if she could have writtenThe Lion's Mouth in Italian, she answered in the negative,although, she said, her spoken Italian was fluent.180come to terms with the Canadian environment to an extent that "inthe deepest sense" (47) she feels at home in her house and the notyet "fully imagined" city of Edmonton, Marco's life and health havebeen deteriorating. He is unhappily married to Paola, his littleson Francesco suffers from an incurable heart disease, his ownhealth problems are worsening, and he unwittingly gets involved ina brigadist murder. The public assault has a traumatic effect onhis young niece, who happens to be present at the scene of theshooting. Venice has lost its charm and dignity and does no longerrepresent the "safe harbour"--an illusion Marco desperately clingsto. Venice has not only become the target of terrorist assaults butit is also on the verge of losing its aura by being disfigured bypostmodern architecture. Growth and deterioration are oppositepoles along which the narrative develops.In migrant fiction written by women, a female character'spsychological adjustment to a new country is often closelyassociated with her experience of living on the threshold ofwomanhood. At sixteen Bianca falls in love with the 24-year-oldMarco. For the younger self of the narrator Marco is a model and amentor. He lectures her on painting, music and politics. He alsoteaches her that in the Italian environment she "is not what shecould be" (114). Marco's photographs make her see herself as shehas never seen herself before: she feels beautiful. Marco draws herattention to the different ways of seeing and the fluid boundariesbetween art and reality. He also draws her attention to thefact, that her face, a "good, strong Venetian one" (114), which181seems "raw and Canadian" to her in its natural and unpolishedexpression, can easily be turned into a skilfully painted mask,"a beautiful creation," that nevertheless appears natural. Marcois Bianca's "Prince Charming" (179) who awakens her with a kissinto womanhood: "Then your lips met mine. The spell of childhoodwas broken. I was awakened" (179). By "teaching" her how tomanipulate her appearance for certain effects on the observer,he also shows her how to play the conventional part of being awoman. She becomes an object of vision. John Berger argues that"[a]ccording to usage and conventions ... the social presence ofa woman is different in kind from that of a man" (Berger, Ways of Seeing, 45). He concludes:One might simplify this by saying: men act and womenappear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves beinglooked at. This determines not only most relations betweenmen and women but also the relation of women to themselves.The surveyor of woman in herself is male: the surveyedfemale. Thus she turns herself into an object--and mostparticularly an object of vision: a sight. (47)The Lion's Mouth is very much a novel about how the gazedetermines social relationships.Like Fremd, Edwards uses the form of the Bildungsroman toexplore the "liminal" space of growing up between two culturesand two languages. With the story of Bianca and Marco, Edwardsre-writes aspects of the type of Bildungsroman which CharlotteGoodman calls "'the male-female double Bildungsroman" (Goodman30). Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights (1847) is one of the firstnovels representing this type. According to Goodman, the mainstructural difference between the prototypical Bildungsroman and182the male-female double Bildungsroman is that the former moves ina linear fashion, that is, it describes the hero's processthrough life. The latter ends in a circle. It describes theshared childhood experiences of a male and a female protagonistfollowed by their separation in adolescence. While the male,like the hero of the typical male Bildungsroman, goes on a quest"to seek his fortune . . the female is left behind" (30).Eventually the protagonists are reunited, however unhappily.Edwards inverts the male-female paradigm by ending the hero'scareer with a nervous breakdown in the old country, while theheroine manages to "exorcise her dream of Venice" (179) in thewriting process and looks forward to a new beginning in Canada.Just as Bildungsroman and gothic meet in Wuthering Heights and in a great number of female Bildungsromane, Edwards re-writes some aspects of the gothic novel in a self-reflexivemanner. The gothic offers itself as a model for re-writing inmigrant fiction, since both deal with characters in thresholdsituations. The setting of the gothic novel is often not theprotagonists' home country. Ann Radcliffe, for instance, choosesItaly as the place where she exposes her heroines to gothicterror, since in the English literary tradition Italyrepresented the exotic and unruly. Gothic heroines livephysically and emotionally in a state of displacement and exile.Another interesting feature of the gothic novel to be exploredin this context is that the male heroes, that is the heroines'husbands-to-be, take on feminine qualities of passivity and183endurance, rather than the conventional hero's capacity foraction.' The gothic is, among other things, a probing into thenature of masculine and feminine identity.' Furthermore, Gothicnovels are novels about perception. In the female tradition ofgothic fiction, particularly in Radcliffe's work, the deceptionof the heroine's senses is the true cause of what shemisinterprets as supernatural phenomena. Once the protagonistenters the gothic world, his/her identity begins to collapse.One gothic convention which expresses the fragmentation of theself is the creation of doubled identities so that therelationship between self and other is transformed into therelationship between opposing aspects of the self. Theseopposing aspects of the self are often depicted as the male andthe female energies at war within a character.The narrative focus on Marco becomes meaningful when oneregards Marco as Bianca's Italian self, her dark twin: "For youare within me, the emblem of my inner city" (46). Marco's morethan average height and his blue eyes run counter to the ethniccliche of a typical Italian. Like Fremd, Edwards is fond ofsubverting traditional ways of seeing by inverting paradigms and'Marco is described as someone whose tendency is to re-actrather than to act. Ironically, he is forced by the brigadiststo act as the messenger to the assassin: "Now is the time ofaction" (135) to which the man replies: "a time of terriblebeauty,"--a quotation from Yeats' "Easter 1916."' This is a feature it shares with the male-female doubleBildungsroman. Goodman argues that "the male-female doubleBildungsroman dramatizes the limitations imposed on both themale and the female protagonist in a patriarchal society whereandrogynous wholeness no longer is possible" (31).184manipulating cultural stereotypes. In chapters 5,9,13, and 17the narrator describes her various attempts to tell Marco'sstory, casting him in the role of a gothic hero. The variationsthat the plot of this story undergoes reflect her own emotionaldevelopment and changing attitude towards the Canadianenvironment. In her first attempt, Bianca finds herself tellinga story not about him but about a projection of herself, "'asensitive Italian girl'" (75) who emigrated to the prairies,which ends with her mental and physical decay. Her hero Gianni,a fellow immigrant, returns to Italy to start a career as anopera singer. This plot is obviously modelled on theprototypical male Bildungsroman. The male protagonist succeeds,whereas the heroine dies. What makes Gianni survive and succeedin this story is his ethnic memory. The narrator describes himas a "fellow 'sensitive soul,'" "but one who retained, more,promoted gentle memories, old customs and habits" (75). It isthe ethnic memory that makes the narrator succeed. She ends theprologue with the sentence: "It is time again to lift the pen.It is time to succeed" (11). By anticipating the positive resultof the process of writing, Edwards, through her narrator, pointsout that ethnic storytelling is a necessary fiction. Ethnictruth is in narration.In the second plot Gianni becomes more of a gothic hero.The heroine is an innocent Canadian traveller,--"a Joan Baez185look alike" (108)-6 the hero a degenerate European. He seducesher and leaves her "set on the path of her destruction" (108).The Marco of the third narrative attempt is less of a type. Thenarrator is interested in the past that shaped his present. Shetries to explore the influence that the bombings of Zara duringWorld War II, which Marco witnessed as a child, had on his lifeand his health. In this plot the "Canadian girl with a Venetianbackground" (144) now becomes more of a symbolic figure. Thenarrator says "I still wanted her destroyed and wanted thedestruction to spring from a genetic, a Venetian inadequacy inthe face of the harshness of the new land" (144). This isEuropean gothic inverted. It is not the Italian castles that arethe place of terror and suffering but the Canadian prairies. Allthree plots deal with the power relationship of a man and awoman which manifests itself in the claim over homeground. Themale protagonist succeeds, that is survives, because he is muchmore "at home" in the world depicted than the heroine is. Thenarrator herself felt "stripped of family, of friends, offamiliar walls and buildings, of proper landscape" (76) whenarriving in Canada.6 It is ironic that the Canadian traveller should look likethe American cult folk singer. When she contemplates her gradualadjustment to her Canadian environment, the narrator points outhow difficult it is to feel at home in a country that has notbecome culturally independent: "I finally wanted to come toterms with the country I had been living in. I wanted to makeher my country. But she was hidden, obscured. The history, theliterature I was taught was English or American. The TV, themovies, the model for life was strictly American.... 'You--Canadians, you are too timid. You don't have the competitiveedge."You need us Americans, you need...'" (146).186The narrator claims that in her final version of the storyshe is "below the masks": "As I look over those three earliernovels, I see that my changing needs, my shifting perceptionsand understanding, cast you in different roles, differentmasks.... This time I am below the masks" (46). Marco emerges asa complex character, scarred and disillusioned, and certainlynot as a one-dimensional gothic Montoni. He is therepresentative of a decaying world burdened by history, wars,terrorism, class struggle and industrial pollution. It becomesobvious from the narrator's conclusion in the epilogue just howmuch her attitude towards the the Old World and the New haschanged: "You are a Venetian. How can you not feel theexhaustion, the decay of the world? My kiss--hopeful andCanadian--could never awaken you from your sleep of negativism"(179). Edwards depicts the male protagonist as breaking downunder the burden of life. The female protagonist, on the otherhand, comes to terms not only with her Italian past and herCanadian present but also finishes her novel. Thereby sheinverts the conventional gender pattern of the male-femaledouble Bildungsroman. As I mentioned before, the position of theobserver is one of power. The narrator watches Marco closely andin her imagination participates voyeuristically in his everymove. Having been the object of Marco's gaze in the past, Marconow becomes the object of hers.Marco is depicted as a "liminal" person in a "liminal"city. Venice is a labyrinth, a city full of twilight and mirror187effects. "Frail barrier," the narrator points out, was theoriginal name of the city. The story takes place at Carnival--a"liminal" and transgressive time. On his way to the Bocca di leone, where, in a symbolic act, he denounces himself for hisbetrayal' and failure as husband, father, and citizen of Venice,Marco struggles forward through the masked carnival crowd.Crucial actions take place at "liminal" times of the day--thetwilight of dawn or fading dusk. One of the numerous definitionsof liminality which Turner offers is an apt description ofMarco's life: "Liminality may be the scene of disease, despair,death, suicide, the breakdown without compensatory replacementof normative, well defined social ties and bonds. It may beanomie, alienation, angst, the three fatal 'alpha' sisters ofmany modern myths ("Liminal to Liminoid, in Play, Flow, andRitual: An Essay in Comparative Symbology" 78). Marco's motherwrites in her letter to Bianca: "And I know only that my son isnot getting better. He's suspended" (10). "Suspended," with allits possible nuances of meaning, expresses this uncertain stateof temporary imbalance and passivity. Marco is also closelyassociated with "liminal" images and sites, such as windows,stairs, doorways, corners, the Venetian arcades and the canal.7 Marco blames himself for having betrayed himself and hiswife by having made love to the brigadist Elena, a childhoodsweetheart, who in turn "betrays" not only him by exposing himto blackmail but also Venice by making it the scene ofassassination. "No wonder," thinks Marco, "Dante reserved thelowest circle of hell for traitors. Canto XXXIII" (164).Betrayal of one sort or another is, as I will show in the nextchapter, a recurrent theme in migrant fiction.188Chapter I begins:He was drawn to the window like an addict to his source. Assoon as he stepped into Adolfo's office he felt the pull.He felt himself edging toward the glass, upholding his partof the discussion, pausing to finger his boss's collectionof antique carnival masks ... but still edging, edging....The view was his, laid out for his needful eye.Marco is unable to effectively isolate himself from hissurroundings, thereby taking on and reflecting the qualities ofeverything that is put in front of him. Moreover, what goes onin the outside world, makes him physically ill. The bombings ofZara had such a traumatic effect on him that at the age offourteen "instead of snipping away foreskin, they'd taken mostof his stomach" (23). Marco cynically refers to the surgery asa "reverse initiation rite." Here the centre-peripheryconnection is embodied in the relationship between a body and amalignancy that inhabits its centre. Marco believes that hecarries the genetic flaw that is responsible for the hole in hisson's heart:Only in abnormality was there individuality. Theabnormality of Francesco who differed in something sominute as a chromosome. His defective son. The seed of hisemptiness. ... He'd seen--oh yes--he'd seen inside. Blood,a strangely warm rain in the cold November air. The bodiessplit. Gashed. Hanging above him. Still fresh and hot. Heknew. He could see. ... The pain across his chest wasunbearable. Gulping air, Marco doubled over.... (24)Marco's yearning for the centre lets him not only despairof his own emptiness, but draws him into the city's abyss. Whenplaying in the palazzolazzo Morosoni as a boy, Marco issurprised by the sudden appearance of Count Morosoni, the ownerof the palace, and hides himself in the secret staircase:189Bones. He was smelling the bones of the city. Caught. Hedoubled over, contracting his body so as not to touch thewalls, so as not to cry out again. Caught. She had claimedher own. Swallowed him alive. He was caught in the mouth.Trapped in the rot. No way out. He could only go deeperinwards. Swallowed. No escape. (197)La bocca di leone, "terror of the city, receptacle ofdenunciation, tool of the hooded inquisitors, purveyor ofsavage, unquestionable justice" (172) symbolically representsthe malignancy in the centre.Both Fremd and Edwards deconstruct the idea of the centrein an ironic way. "Heartland" designates the Australiangeographical heartland and also the family as the nuclear cellof society. The Australian heartland, however, is the desert andfamily life within Heartland turns out to be life denying. Inthe context of her novel, Edwards seems to suggest that thoseliving on the periphery survive, while those who live in thecentre are destined to failure. The margin becomes a privilegedpoint of view. Only those at the margin, looking from theoutside into the centre, see with clarity and can restructuretraditional patterns of ideas and beliefs. Those writing fromthe margin have access to the carnival spirit. Carnival, asBakhtin describes it, is a festive celebration of the Other. Thecarnival spirit is opposed to all epistemological hierarchies.In Rabelais and His World, Bakhtin claims:All the symbols of the carnival idiom are filled with thispathos of change and renewal, with the sense of the gayrelativity of prevailing truths and authorities. We findhere a characteristic logic, the peculiar logic of the'inside out' (a l'envers), of the 'turnabout,' of acontinual shifting from top to bottom, from front to rear,of numerous parodies and travesties, humiliations,190profanations, comic crownings and uncrownings. A secondlife, a second world of folk culture is thus constructed;it is to a certain extent a parody of the extracarnivallife, a 'world inside out.' (11)By privileging the periphery, making it the centre, Edwards re-structures both margin and centre. It is the very peripherallittle Barbara who is being sent from the Old World centre toher aunt in Canada to recover from shock. The decentering devicein Bellini's painting The Miracle of the True Cross functions asa mise en abyme. When Marco and the brigadist meet in the artgallery and ponder the meaning of Bellini's painting, theirattention is drawn to the black slave at the edge of thepainting not the central figures. By making her cousin Marco--who is, so to speak, at the margins of the immediate family--thesubject of the narrative quest for her roots rather than herparents or grandparents, Edwards, through her narrator, breakswith a typical pattern of migrant writing. As befits Edwards'oppositional practice, the texts from which she quotes in TheLion's Mouth contain elements of opposition and rebellion:Dante's Divina Commedia, Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice,Yeats' "Easter 1916" and the old partisan song "0 partigiano,portami via" (176).Just as Edwards "writes back" to literary conventions in aself-reflexive way, she exploits the "double-voiced" nature ofsome words, that of "frame" and "edge, ,,8 in particular, andmakes the reader aware of their primary and secondary meanings.See, for example, the beginning of the first chapter ofthe book which I quote on page 181.191Furthermore, just as Marco subverts standard Italian byswitching over to the Venetian dialect when arguing with Paolawho looks down on dialect speakers, Edwards disrupts thedominant discourse by inserting Italian words into the Englishtext. The Italian words appear italicized in the text whichframes them, in effect. Thus Edwards playfully draws attentionto the "centrifugal forces" of language that undermine linearityand fixed meaning.Whereas Fremd foregrounds intertextuality, Edwards' majorcounter-discursive strategy is a form of hybridization. TheLion's Mouth is a "hybrid" novel. It re-writes aspects of theBildungsroman as well as the gothic novel and the thriller andcrosses, as shown above, the borderlines of genre. As inHeartland, writing is a technique of survival in The Lion's Mouth. The narrator's frequent border crossings between Canadaand Italy and her exposure to two cultures which appear to herdiametrically opposed in terms of their "ways of seeing" equipher with a creative imagination that is sensitive to theimportance of context and perspective. The writing process whichis an exercise in perspectivism and re-vision makes the narratorgrow emotionally and intellectually and eventually leads her toself-knowledge and a sense of home.192CHAPTER Five: Re-writing the Male Quest: Josef Vondra's Paul Zwillinq (1974) and Henry Kreisel's The Betrayal (1964)By Contrast Rather than in Comparison: Josef Vondra's Paul Zwillinq Borders"My research suggests that men and women may speak differentlanguages that they assume are the same."Carol GilliganIf we're so bright,why didn't we notice?The side-by-side translationswere the easy ones.Our tongues tasted luna chanting, chanting to the wordsit touched; our lips circledmoon sighing its longing.We knew: similar but different.(Pat Mora)If you have to wonder, if you keep looking for signs, ifyou wait-surrendering little bits of a reluctant self everyyear, clutching the souvenirs of an ever-retreating past--you'll never belong, anywhere. (Bharati Mukherjee,Darkness)Josef Vondra migrated from Austria to Australia as a boy withhis parents in 1951. His novel Paul Zwillinq "seeks to give animpression of the migrant's way of life" (vii) as Vondra claims.The first page of the novel juxtaposes a poem whose voice isthat of Vondra's protagonist Paul Zwilling, and a shortparagraph in which the author points out the significance ofpost -War migration for Australia's development as a nation.Vbndra creates the illusion of a double voice throughout thenovel by prefacing his narrative sections with historicalinformation about Austria during and after the second World War.193This information, which is preceded by a historical date in eachcase, resembles the announcements in a newsreel or a historicaldocumentary. The information given in the headings ranges fromincidents of global significance such as "8 May 1945. The warends in Europe" to incidents of local interest such as "5 May1945. Vienna's first tram goes into operation." The dates arechronological and span the time between Paul Zwilling's birthdayin June 1941 in Vienna and July 1950 when Paul Zwilling, hismother and step-father leave Bregenz for Hamburg on the firststage of their journey to Australia. There is no obviousconnection between the headings and the subsequent text. Thepast and the present do not meet on the textual level. Bywriting his novel from the third person limited point of view,Vondra adopts a mode of telling that differs from theestablished discourse by and about migrants. Most migrantliterature in the 1970s and earlier was written in the firstperson. Apart from these autobiographical and semi-autobiographical accounts, travel and documentary reports werethe most common forms of describing migrant life. By juxtaposingdocument and fiction in his novel, Vondra--by contrast ratherthan in comparison--demonstrates how irrelevant the Old Worlddocument is in the New World and suggests that the migrant'sconflict of identities can only be resolved in the form offiction.Paul Zwilling works as an advertising copy-writer in194Melbourne--Australia's cultural centre--,' which is also thehome of his mother and step-father. Zwilling's father lives inVienna. The book opens with Zwilling's trip from Melbourne toParkes where he intends to visit the migrant camp in which hislife in Australia began. His drive to Parkes can be seen as aquest. The quest is one of the major themes in Australianliterature. It has haunted the imagination of Australian writersin the form of the voyage in search of Australia as testified bycountless voyager poems, the quest for home in the Old World,and the journey into the centre of the country. Patrick White'sVoss (1957) is probably the most widely known novel dealing withthe voyage into the centre. In migrant literature the quest forhome in the Old World is the most common of the three patterns.The visit to the old migrant camp is Zwilling's secondquest, a quest more self-reflective than active. The first questtook place five years earlier when Zwilling returned to Viennafor a year to live with his father in the twofold attempt to"fill[ing] in the past ... the year in which he has tried tofill the cultural vacuum of his existence in Australia" (82) andto "understand the stranger from whose loins he had sprung" (1-2). The description of Australia as a cultural wasteland hasbecome a commonplace in contemporary Australian migrantliterature. Rosa Cappiello's Oh Lucky Country (1984) and Aniai Melbourne and Sydney have long debated which of them isAustralia's cultural capital. Melbourne has a claim made for thetitle on its behalf in that it is more closely connected withthe interior, Australia's Centre, than Sydney with the BlueMountains separating it from it.195Walwicz's prose poems2 provide extremes, but the image ofAustralia as a cultural desert pervades a great variety of worksfrom many different cultural backgrounds, such as AngelikaFremd's Heartland (1989), Manfred Jurgensen's A Difficult Love (1987),3 and Yasmine Gooneratne's A Change of Skies (1991).Zwilling's second quest is closely related to his unsuccessfulstay in Vienna which ended in a quarrel between him and hisfather.Joseph Campbell provides the classic definition of thehero's quest in The Hero With A Thousand Faces (1973). Hedescribes the hero's mythic journey as a threefold process ofseparation, initiation and return and gives Arnold van Gennep'sand Victor Turner's model of the rite of passage in ritual a2 The first paragraph in Walwicz's prose poem "Australia"goes: "You big ugly. You too empty. You desert with your nothingnothing nothing. You scorched suntanned. Old too quickly. Acresof suburbs watching the telly. You bore me. Freckle sillychildren. You nothing much. With your big sea. Beach beachbeach. I've seen enough already. You dumb dirty city with barstools. You're ugly. You silly shoppingtown. You copy" (90-1).3 Jurgensen's German-born narrator muses: "What kind of acountry was this? A place where people lived huddled togetheralong a coastline reminding them that their continent was anisland? England in antipodes?... What was I doing here? No onedared to venture into the interior, as if it contained thesecret of their fate. They did not want to know it. They did notwant to know themselves. Australians lived on the edge ofreality, on the surface of a land they knew was not their own.They did not want to discover it because that would meandetecting things about themselves they could not face. Everyman, woman and child in Australia, I felt, was carrying a hiddenguilt. I too was running away from something. This alone hadmade me an Australian the moment I set foot in my new country.I sensed a fear in the cities, a determination to forget and toignore. The seemingly confident skylines were a sign language ofescapees celebrating their precarious freedom" (12).196Jungian interpretation:A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into aregion of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are thereencountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comesback from this mysterious adventure with the power tobestow boons on his fellow man. (30)The hero leaves a world that is familiar to him for a realm thatis unfamiliar, unconscious, mysterious. Initiation, the secondstep, is, in modern terms, the "process of dissolving,transcending, or transmuting the infantile images of ourpersonal past" (101). Crucial to the phase of initiation, or, inTurner's words, the "liminal" phase, is the meeting with the"Queen Goddess" and the murder of or reconciliation with theFather. In this period of initiation the hero also has to battledragons and solve riddles. At the end of the quest "the hero isthe man of self-achieved submission" (16). Migrant authors havebeen re-writing this pattern of the quest from their ownperspectives. Campbell's hero is "arrogant" at the beginning and"humble" in the end. Most migrant characters in literature,however, begin their journeys in the new country full of self-negation and with a lack of pride. In most cases of the femalemigrant Bildungsroman self-awareness and, above all, self-affirmation, are the goals which the protagonist achieves at theend of a guest.' In migrant literature written by men, however,the journey does not always end in success and the achievements,4 This is true of Caterina Edwards' narrator in The Lion's Mouth, Sandra Cisneros' Esperanza in The House on Mango Street,Mala in Rachna Mara's Of Customs and Excise and the narrators ofMaxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior and Sky Lee'sDisappearing Moon Cafe to name only a few.197if there are any, are more dubious. Zwilling's urge to go on thequest in search of the old migrant camp is prompted by therecent breakup of his five-year marriage with Laura. The failureof this marriage makes him wonder if he, as a migrant, ispredestined to fail in life. He wants to return to his place oforigin in the new country in order to understand his conditionbetter. The pending divorce also links him with his father, whonot only divorced his mother but also four other women:Ah yes, the faceless whisperers had said in their soft,soft voices in the caverns of his brain: see, he is hisfather's son, he leaves his wife.... He leaves her andstarts on his father's path: six wives by the time hereached his sixtieth year. And the son not yet thirty-two.These whispers had haunted Zwilling in the insomniac hoursat the hotel. He had lain on his narrow bed ... thoughtabout genes, about the hereditary condition of man; morethan anything, he had thought about his year in Austriawith his father.... He thought about all these things ...he spent the whole morning typing a letter in painstakingGerman, a letter to his father in which he had tried toexplain why his marriage failed. (56)In the eyes of his father he is a failure. The first time thetwo have a serious talk, his father asks Zwilling why he had notcompleted university. He wants him to study for his doctorate inlaw and take over his practice. Australia, in his eyes, is notthe place to start a career and lead a successful life.Vondra's novel is a re-writing of the heroic quest from amigrant's point of view, or to be more specific that of aEuropean male migrant of the pre-Baby-Boom generation. In Paul Zwillinq the theme of the double, the Doppelqâncier, isintricately interwoven with that of the quest. First of all,Paul Zwilling's name speaks for itself. The Paul of the New198Testament received his name after his spiritual rebirth andZwilling means 'twin' in German: "I was born in June, Juneeleventh to be precise, which, according to the zodiac, makes mea Gemini" is the first stanza of the prefatory poem. The name isalso expressive of Zwilling's struggle of being torn betweenAustria and Australia, the past and the present, a "fatherland"and a "motherland." Stories that deal with the double in thetwentieth century seem to be written mainly by authors who aresuspended between languages and cultures, writers such as JosephConrad, Frederick Philip Grove, Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett andVladimir Nabokov. The double is a device also frequently to befound in Latin American expatriate and exile literature such asin works by Isabel Allende, Julio Cortazar, José Donoso andErnesto Sabato. Australian non-Anglo-Celtic writers also seem tofind in doubles and twins a way of expressing culturaldislocation. In Parallel Forces (1988) Indonesian-born DewiAnggraeni, for instance, creates a story about the fate of thetwin sisters Amyrta and Amyrra, who were born in Indonesia to aFrench mother and an Indonesian father and migrated to Australiawith their parents. Amyrra is the reincarnation of theIndonesian queen Ken Dedes and doomed to relive her fate. HongKong born Brian Castro plays with the double in Birds of Passage (1983) and Double-Wolf (1991). Birds of Passage is set both inthe mid-nineteenth century and the present and links theexperiences of the two characters Shan and Seamus, his mixed-race descendant, in an antiphonal narrative. Seamus feels "at199times haunted by this Doppelq.anger" (4) whose journal of histrip from China to Australia he translates, after having learnedChinese for that purpose, while living a life of social andemotional alienation in a racist Australia.Zwilling's double is his childhood friend and drinkingcompanion Willie Holzbein. Holzbein means 'wooden leg' in Germanand is an allusion to Willie's migrant condition which disableshim even to a larger extent than Zwilling. Willie, his motherand step-father, who changed his name from Ruschinek toHolzbein--roughly translated, ruschinek in Croatian meanssomebody who 'tears down'--met Zwilling and his parents on theboat to Australia. The story of a migrant changing the familypatronymic on entering the new country is a familiar one inmigrant narratives. Usually a name is chosen that is easier topronounce and does not betray ethnic origin. That the Ruschineksshould choose a name that is so obviously of German origin at atime when animosity towards Germans is very strong is ironic,and may be interpreted as an omen of their poor luck in theLucky Country. Willie is an unsuccessful television consultant.Unlike Zwilling,' Willie has neither been married nor has hebeen able to hold a steady job. The narrator describes Willie'swork and love life as follows:In the final stage he would resign, be fired, or simply notturn up for work one day, and that was the end of anotherphase of his life. So was he too with his women, hisThe narrator keeps referring to Paul Zwilling as Zwilling,whereas Willie is always called by his first name whichunderlines the symbolic meaning of the name 'Zwilling.'200relationships with friends: the restlessness would appearsooner or later and he would cast them off. Zwilling hadalways thought him a fugitive, a fugitive from therealities of life, and this was no state for a man ofthirty-three gifted with considerable intelligence. (61)Willie's parents are German. Like Zwilling, he grew up notknowing his father and had entertained the thought of one dayvisiting him in Germany. But the man died before the reunionbetween father and son could take place. And "from that day on,Willie had turned his back on Europe and the European way oflife. He wanted nothing more to do with Europe and the past lifeit represented and therefore set out to become totallyAustralian" (156), observes the narrator. Zwilling succeeded inforgetting his European past only at one point when he threw in"his lot with Laura's life-style" and lived for a "brief andecstatic present" (83).Paul Zwillinq is as much Willie's story as it isZwilling's. Willie is always on Zwilling's mind. And innarrative terms, he often acts as a diabolus ex machina.Whenever Zwilling's musings seem to reach a dead end or when hewants to be alone in his hotel room, it is Willie who crosseshis mind or knocks on the door. Whereas Zwilling suffers veryself-consciously from a feeling of displacement, Willie lacksZwilling's capacity for self-reflection. Zwilling uses Willie'slife vicariously to reflect on his own. In "Concepts of theDouble" Albert Guerard writes:Characters who seem occultly connected in the author'simagination (and such connection may take many forms) mayalso be referred to as doubles. A minor character mayreenact a major character's traumatic experience.... A201strong feeling of sympathetic identification may lead to asense of doubleness, an immobilizing recognition of theself one might have been. (3)Robert Rogers refers to latent doubles as "secret sharers." Thecharacters representing doubles in these works, Rogers argues,have a "more or less autonomous existence on the narrative level.. and yet are patently fragments of one mind at thepsychological level of meaning" (41). Rogers also speaks of"secret kinship" in this context. It is first of all thisrecognition of the self Zwilling "might have been" or that"secret kinship" that links him to Willie. The narratorobserves: "There was of course a similar pattern woven intotheir backgrounds, particularly in the fact that both Zwilling'smother and the mother of Willie had married displaced persons"(93). The relationship between Zwilling and Willie is that of adisabling symbiosis. The bond between the two men is describedin the following way: "he [Zwilling] loved this man, he knew, ashe would have loved the brother he never had. They were joinedtogether through invisible and visible bonds and would remain sountil one was gone from the known world" (144). Since Willie iswithout money most of the time, Zwilling provides him with thenecessary means to buy alcohol and sex, thereby feeding Willie'sself-destructive drives. The narrator observes:The more Zwilling gave, the more the other demanded. Andthe heavier the burden on the shoulders of Zwilling, themore he felt his own responsibility towards the man hecould see was being torn apart. The spectacle of Willie6 The examples he gives are Conrad's "The Secret Sharer" andHawthorne's "Alice Doane's Appeal."202Holzbein, without hope, drunk most of the time, a man whohad lost all dignity, somehow frightened Zwilling; itevoked feelings of disgust, of anger, of frustration. Mostof all, as he watched the gradual disintegration of theman, he knew that he himself had all the ingredients of aWillie; it could be he, Zwilling, who stood before theworld to be dismantled by forces beyond his control. Andthis image began to frighten him, shake him to the core.(62)Zwilling takes a voyeuristic part in Willie's spiritual andphysical deterioration. Willie, however, does not see Zwilling'spain and growing despair. In his eyes, Zwilling is a success atwork and with women. He admits that he envied Zwilling for his,to all appearances, happy marriage and bourgeois way of life--astability he has always lacked. At the time Zwilling decides togo on his "quest" to Parkes, he has reached the lowest point inhis life. Laura whom the reader has reason to believe, Zwillingstill loves, pushes for a divorce. His mother returns from herfirst trip to Austria in twenty years with news from Zwilling'sfather. Since she could not face her ex-husband personally--present and past once more do not meet--she gave him a call. Inresponse to her question why he had not answered his only son'sletters he replied: "After all my wife and I tried to do for himduring his stay here? We got him a job, we gave him a home, wetried to teach him a few things. And what did he do? He cast usoff as though we were nothing. He had to go back to Australia tolive with the convicts" (134). When Zwilling's mother angrilyassured him that her son had a good position in Australia, theolder Zwilling retorted: "Just luck, that's all it was. He couldjust as easily have ended up a no-hoper" (134). In reaction to203his father's verdict, which comes close enough to the truth, asthe narrator has the reader believe, and to his rude behaviourtowards his mother Zwilling decides to write him a final letter,"a letter with a difference," which concludes: "I see now howyou and I could never understand each other's way of life. Butthat is no reason why father and son should hurt, abuse anddisrespect each other.... The least you can do as my father iswrite and answer my letters" (135).The conventional phase of separation, the first phase ofthe quest, is for Zwilling not so much a departure from familiarground but a loss of the ground under his feet. Life is"splitting him apart" as his mother puts it. Zwilling himself isafraid of going mad: "And what about his own crazes, Zwillingthought, his own drives of mania? Was Zwilling clean of themadness of a migrant's past? Could he square up to it, shouldersback, his chest full out taking blow after blow withoutcrumbling?" (74). Zwilling has seen madness grow in othermigrants. There is the former Bulgarian lieutenant, forinstance, who settled down in Melbourne with his family cuttingand sewing ties for retail stores until the business eventuallyfailed. The last Zwilling heard of him was that he worked in acharity store and rode a bike eleven kilometers to and from workevery day, a harmonica strapped to his mouth. Stories of migrantmadness abound in this novel--a proliferation of doubles?Separation for Zwilling is an awareness of social disintegrationand loss of identity. The ogres which Zwilling has to overcome204on his quest are those of his mind, the outgrowths of adisabling migrant past.When Zwilling arrives in Parkes, this unfamiliar familiarplace on the geographical periphery, he meets his Queen Goddessin the form of the local high school history teacher.Ironically--a history teacher is expected to know better--RobinMason has never heard of the migrant camp. Neither do most ofthe people in Parkes remember it. This ignorance can beunderstood as criticism of Australian society which eitherdenies parts of its not so pleasant history or is simply notthat interested in the past with its "determination to forgetand to ignore," to use the words of Manfred Jurgensen's narratorin A Difficult Love. Eventually Zwilling finds out that the campwas torn down in the early 1950s. He goes to see the site in thecompany of Robin. Robin is a "typical" Australian middle-classyoung woman with a sheltered childhood that stands in contrastto Zwilling's and Willie's. She is the only daughter of a schoolteacher. Robin's life, however, differs from the averageAustralian young woman's in that she spent two years teaching inSalzburg. Her German is almost fluent. But even her trip toEurope seems to Zwilling to be part of her Australianness:It was the tale of an Australian girl visiting Europe; ...and yet...he understood the need, the terrible, hungry,obsessional need of Australians to go to Europe torediscover life. Simply saying that they went in search ofculture would be to oversimplify it; rather, it was a needfor them to seek an alternative life, to understand anotherlife-style other than the 'good life' in Australia. (23-24)Zwilling and Robin end up having an affair. To Zwilling it seems205as if fate brought them together: "a strange feeling overcome[sic] him as if he had seen her somewhere before, a long timeago in a distant land" (11). And he had "a most nerve-tinglingsensation that she really understood, understood the unreasonedreason which had made him drive all that distance just to gazeon the area where he had spent a few months during a formativeperiod of his life" (11). What makes the sexual experience withRobin so satisfying for Zwilling is the fact that she speaksGerman to him in their most intimate moments. The narratorobserves: "The English-speaking women he had embraced, they hadalways left a pang of hunger in his sexual ribs as though hisbelly had been three-quarters full and the rest was vacuum to befilled" (34). In other words, these women left Zwilling'semotional (and sexual) centre empty. Vondra here parodies onemajor element of the fiction of Patrick White who was obsessedwith the Australian emptiness. Zwilling asked Laura to learn afew words of German "words she could say to him when he neededthose echoes in his brain turned to reality, but she in herarrogance ... did not understand" (34). In White's Voss thesignificance of the hero's death in Australia's Centre ismediated by the understanding of his spiritual bride Laura--itseems to be more than coincidence that the two women arenamesakes. Revelation in Voss derives from the Centre.Zwilling's first sexual encounter with Robin reaches him at hiscore and triggers his sudden realization of what is wrong withWillie Holzbein, what causes his "terrible woman hate." Willie206has rejected the past:He [Zwilling] wondered if Willie ever listened to hischildhood's echoes, if he had ever had the need to hold awoman close and hear those words in the German language? Ofcourse he must have, Zwilling thought, of course he hadthese things within him, but Willie had rejected theheritage of his past. He had rejected the European side ofhimself and therefore suffered, for how else would hesatisfy these inner cravings? (35)Zwilling can trace the difference between his and Willie'sattitude towards the past to their school days when Zwillingwould be victimized by his fellow students whereas Willie wouldeventually be spared:But where Willie simply outgrew the bashings, in that hemoulded himself into the contours of the Australian way oflife and the others gradually accepted him into theircircle, Zwilling remained obstinate, refusing to change asquickly, refusing to give in. As Willie became more andmore assimilated, changing his attitudes, his wholepersonality even, Zwilling remained on the defensive formuch longer; he recalled quite vividly having to submit tothese juvenile bashings as late as his fifteenth year. (41)Whereas Willie never returns to Germany and is not interested inaccompanying Zwilling on his trip to the migrant camp, Zwillingcannot let go of the past. Understanding the past is for him thekey to understanding the present. Willie's denial of the pastcauses his final disintegration. In the last section of the bookWillie's step-father dies, his half sister moves to Sydney andhis mother returns to Germany all within a few days. After anight's carousing Willie loses his passport, certificates andreferences. When Zwilling tries to comfort him hinting at thepossibility that the missing documents may be found Williereplies: "'But you don't understand. Everything I have is in207that bag. Birth certificate, passport, references, everything.Without it I'm a non-person'" (170). Willie's consciousseverance from the past overtakes him in the form of the loss ofhis family and that of his documents. In the end he does noteven have any proper clothes left to wear and appears dressed upin Zwilling's clothes at a party. Willie's denial of the past isalso expressed in the loss of the family surname. UnlikeZwilling he does not carry his father's name. Ironically,however, it is Willie who speaks with a German accent. Zwillingon the other hand passes for an Australian. Only his name servesas a marker of ethnic difference. In court Laura's barrister hasdifficulty pronouncing his name: "'Now Mr Walling?' 'It'sZwilling.' A look of surprise on the face of the barrister. 'Ah,yes, so...Zwall-ing'" (75). Zwilling even prides himself ofbeing able to put on different English accents:But of course he was to all appearances Australian, spokeas one native-born - ah, here he caught himself. He noticedin his self-analysis that in hotels or other places wherehe thought his carefully chosen neutral English would notbe appreciated he fell into a slur, a sort of commonAustralian dialect. Sometimes he though [sic] of himself asa phony for using this dual dialect, in the sense thatneither part of it was true to himself, but then Zwillingfelt embarrassed by the cold stares he received when hehad made a wrong decision in choosing his speech. (4)Austrian-born, Zwilling is predestined to be sensitive to thedifference between dialects. Austria has been a victim ofcultural imperialism in as far as Austrian writers, for example,have often been subsumed under German Literature. The fact thatZwilling is Austrian and not German plays a significant role inthe novel. Whenever Zwilling uses the German language, the208Australians automatically assume that he is German. His fellowhigh school students called him "Nazi, fucking German sausage"(39) and Zwilling shouted back at them that he was Austrian andnot German. And when one of the two women whom Zwilling andWillie pick up tries to comfort Zwilling after Willie'semotional outbursts over the bombings he witnessed as a child:"It must have been awful for you.... Really awful for you Germanpeople" (68), Zwilling again needs to point out that he isAustrian and not German. One reason for the two men's differentattitude towards the past may well be that the rememberance ofthe past is less shameful for the Austrian. He is spared thepost-Nazi and pre-Waldheim generation's burden of a backgroundladen with national guilt.Ironically, part of the reason why Robin gets involved withZwilling is that she can relive with him a relationship with herformer lover in Salzburg. Zwilling's Austrianness makes hernostalgic for the love on which she turned her back. Robin'sinvolvement with Zwilling in fact triggers a temporaryreconciliation with her Austrian lover which results in herreturn to Salzburg. Since Robin represents the connection withthe "fatherland," Zwilling confides in her and tells her abouthis father. On his way back to the hotel from the camp siteZwilling knows that "he would be haunted by the spectral imageof his father" (30). He keeps asking himself why his father hasnot answered his letters and decides to send a "broadside" oftelegrams to him and each of his four ex-wives to make sure that209the message will reach its destiny one way or another: "Thethought gripped him in an iron clasp and he spent a sweat-soakednight floating between sleep and consciousness composing endlessstrings of words in both English and German. In a moment ofmadness he even contemplated rousing the girl on the motelswitchboard and having her fire the telegrams off..." (30).After having sent the five telegrams to Vienna stating (ratherthan asking): "'WARUM SCHREIBT VATER NICHT'" (31), Zwilling isready to get involved with Robin. As in the quest myth,Zwilling's relationship with his father and his sexualinvolvement with women are closely related. Zwilling marriedLaura right after his return from Austria. Just as hisinvolvement with Robin duplicates, so to speak, his involvementwith Laura, Robin and Laura are doubles in a certain sense. Justlike Robin, Laura grew up in the country and had a shelteredchildhood and like Robin she spent two years in Europe. Forher/them life has never had the quality of the "life-and-deathstruggle" it had for Zwilling and Willie. As with thetraditional hero, Zwilling's confrontation with the father takesthe form of a battle, as becomes obvious from the militant wordchoice such as "broadside of telegrams" and "fire them off."Ironically, however, this battle takes place long-distance andon the father's terms, namely his refusal to communicate. The"fatherland" does not speak. As Sneja Gunew has pointed out, ithas become a trope in migrant literature that inshifting language and culture the migrant is placed oncemore in the position of the child. This child is required210to renegotiate an entry into the symbolic--needs to go oncemore through a form of the mirror stage, in which aputative subject is reflected by the gaze of the new hostculture, and is quite other to any previous unifiedsubject. ("Framing Marginality: Distinguishing the TextualPolitics of the Marginal Voice" 145)According to Jacques Lacan, the Imaginary, the period before thechild enters into the Symbolic, corresponds to the pre-Oedipalphase, when the child believes itself to be part of the mother.The Oedipal crisis represents the entry into the Symbolic Order.This entry is linked to the acquisition of language. In theOedipal crisis the father, representing the order of languageand law, splits up the dyadic unity between mother and child andforbids the child further access to the mother's body. And fromnow on the imaginary unit with the mother must be repressed.Zwilling's "renegotiated" entry into the Symbolic takes place inthe absence of the father in the country which becomes his"motherland." However, as the third term, Australia comesbetween Zwilling and the country of his birth, "the land whichgave him nourishment as he lay curled in the womb" (2). ThusAustralia is located in the Symbolic, whereas Austria is locatedin what Julia Kristeva calls the semiotic.' Does German thenbecome the semiotic, erupting from the repressed unconscious inan unpredictable way? Zwilling does not conceive of Australia asKristeva claims: "Language as symbolic functionconstitutes itself at the cost of repressing instinctual driveand continuous relation to the mother. On the contrary, theunsettled and questionable subject of poetic language (for whomthe word is never uniquely sign) maintains itself at the cost ofreactivating this repressed instinctual, maternal element"(Desire in Language: A Semiotic Approach to Literature and Art 136).211his mother: the real mother--though repressed--is still Austria.Does the father consequently, in Antipodean fashion, changeplace with the mother and vice versa? Zwilling's mother tongue,after all, is now closely associated with the "fatherland" andthe father. Zwilling's mother dissociates herself from hermother tongue in that she experiences "a real pleasure" duringher disillusioning trip to Vienna when she has an opportunity tospeak English again. And it is the mother after all, who leavesthe country of birth and the father in order to start a new lifewith the step-father in Australia. Zwilling's renegotiated entryinto the Symbolic is parallelled by the step-father's disruptionof the unity between mother and son in the new country. Zoltanleft the two in Parkes to make money as a fruit picker in thesouth. On his step-father's return a few months later, Zwillingfelt "strangely out of place, unwanted, a stranger to his ownfamily" (16) since the step-father resumes his legal and naturalplace as the mother's protector, a role Zwilling had graduallybeen growing into. The character of Willie as Zwilling's secondself, intruder from the cultural background, is themanifestation of a self that had to go once more through amirror stage. For Willie, more overtly than for Zwilling, womenfunction as a substitute for the maternal body. The narratorexplains the fact that Willie cannot be without the company ofwomen in the following way:He could not, with a male, stamp up and down in nakedexhibitionism and yell about the crashing bombs, nor couldhe with a male obtain the intense, though fleeting,intimacy of sex. He could not suck a teat and with his212nuzzling release the whole series of childhood sufferings;he could not bury his head and body in soft, good-smellingflesh and feel as if the cushion of earth had swallowed himwhole. He could not do these things with a male andtherefore to him a woman was a perpetual necessity. (73)This passage expresses man's wish to return to mother earth, tothe security of the pre-Oedipal womb in retreat from anunresolved battle with the father. Just as past and present donot meet, neither do man and woman. The battle between fatherand son extends to that of migrant male and non-migrant female.Laura takes Zwilling to court to negotiate his maintenancepayment. The reader gets the impression that the case is settledin a very unjust way to her advantage and that the system takescare of those who belong. The man with the unpronouncablesurname who lectures the judge about Vienna's Roman name givento it because of the high quality of its wine apparently doesnot.The hero in the quest myth eventually returns to hiscommunity with some "elixir for the restoration of society"(Campbell 197). Zwilling returns to Melbourne with empty hands.He has lost his Queen Goddess, so it seems, to the rival inSalzburg. The hero of the quest changes in the process, gainingwisdom and overcoming his egoism. Zwilling is unchanged. Uponarriving in Melbourne, the first thing he does is call Williewho tells him that his (most recent) "girlfriend" left him.There is no letter from Zwilling's father. Zwilling does not getan opportunity for "atonement with the father," or to murder himfor that matter. The father remains inaccessible. There is,213however, a letter from Robin telling him that she did not marrythe man in Salzburg after all and decided to move to Melbourne.Her letter expresses some hope for a new beginning of theirrelationship. Zwilling, however, does not share Robin's hope forthe future since for him it will always be marred by the past:Anger rose in his throat and it had the taste of bile. Shewould come back and they would take up their relationshipas if nothing had happened, nothing at all, and it wouldend rosily...and sometimes at night when they were entwinedin the act of love and they said words to each other inboth languages, perhaps then there would be a grain ofdoubt, a bitter grain of cynicism in his thought about thewords. (172)The migrant seems indeed predestined to remain torn between thepresent and the past, between here and there. Unlike theHungarians and the Chinese in the novel, Zwilling and Willie donot have an ethnic community. They have only their mateship tofall back upon. Toward the end of the novel, the gap between thesexes widens. Women become a commodity for the two men. The bookends with Zwilling and Willie waking up in the same bed next tothe two women they picked up at a party the night before.Swapping partners Willie asks Zwilling why he is not joining inwhereupon Zwilling answers that he does not feel like it.Willie's eyes meet Zwilling's and the narrator observes:There was such cool understanding in those eyes, Zwillingknew, understanding of life and death and their way oflife, that it almost shattered him. He wanted to reach outand touch Willie by the shoulder for he was conscious asnever before of their role, an inseparable dual role,Siamese twins they were. 'We're Siamese twins,' he said toWillie and the other stopped his rhythm a moment andunderstood. (182)Unlike the Grail knights, Zwilling can neither redeem his214own emotional nor the cultural wasteland which Australiarepresents in his eyes. His doom is repetition. The spacebetween the cultures, between the generations, and between thesexes appears as an abyss, not as a space of possibilities.Proust's involuntary memory rather than the creative force ofcreolization and synthesis motivates the protagonist and withhim the narrative process. Just as the Australian landscapereminds Zwilling "by contrast rather than in comparison" (1) ofAustria, it is the contrast and not the similarity thatdetermines this migrant's perception.215By Comparison: Henry Kreisel's The Betrayal (1964)Henry Kreisel was born in Vienna in 1922. He fled to Englandwith his family in 1938 after the annexation of Austria by theGerman Reich, was arrested in 1940, after Britain declared waron Germany, and deported to Canada as an "enemy alien." He washeld in internment camps in Quebec and New Brunswick for almosta year and a half. Like many Jews of his generation, Kreisel isnot only a migrant but also an exile. Webster's Dictionary andthe O.E.D. define exile as forced separation from one's nativecountry, expulsion from home, expatriation and banishment. PaulTabori identifies an exile as:a person compelled to leave or remain outside his countryof origin on account of well-founded fear of persecutionfor reasons of race, religion, nationality, or politicalopinion; a person who considers his exile temporary (eventhough it may last a lifetime), hoping to return to hisfatherland when circumstances permit-but unable orunwilling to do so as long as the factors that made him anexile persist. (27)Henry Kreisel, however, never considered his "exile" astemporary but always as permanent. Unlike the German andAustrian Exilschriftsteller, that is authors who went into exilebetween 1933 and 1945,1 Kreisel was not an established writerwhen he left his home country. The fact that Kreisel began hisliterary career as an internee distinguishes him from most exilewriters. Unlike most of the authors I have dealt with so far,1 I am thinking here of Bertolt Brecht, Herman Broch, AlfredDOblin, Lion Feuchtwanger, Bella Fromm, Oskar Maria Graf,Heinrich and Thomas Mann, Ernst Toiler, Franz Werfel and CarlZuckmayer, to name only a few.216Kreisel was no longer a child when he arrived in the newcountry, a fact that gives his experience a different shape. Histexts have, however, much more in common with migrant writingthan with the texts written by the Exilschriftsteller mentionedabove.In his seminal essay "Language and Identity: A PersonalEssay" Kreisel explains that dissociating himself from hischildhood environment also entailed abandoning his mothertongue: "It was in a large, overcrowded army barracks in thelittle town of Pontefract, in Yorkshire, that I made thedeliberate decision to abandon German and embrace English as thelanguage in which, as a writer, I wanted to express myself"(119). As different as the two men's experiences are, Kreisel'stransformation from Heinrich to Henry is strangely reminiscentof seven-year-old Ricardo Rodriguez' resolution to becomeRichard after the traumatic experience of his parents' switchingfrom the language of home to the language of the Gringos whenthey became aware of his presence. In both cases the response tothe emotional betrayal was reciprocated by a "betrayal" of themother tongue. In the introduction to the "Diary of anInternment" Kreisel declares:I had known the language for less than two years, a factquite apparent in curious idiomatic usages here and there,but I felt it absolutely essential that I embrace English,since I knew that I would never return to Austria andwanted to free myself from the linguistic and psychologicaldependence on German. (21)His decision not to return to Austria and to abandon his mothertongue, not only implied an understanding of the necessity to217acquire a new mode of expression but also to internalize "thetraditions, the attitudes, the frame of mind of the people whospeak the language" ("Problems of Writing in Canada" 132).Kreisel's is an imagination which Daphne Marlatt calls "theimmigrant imagination" as opposed to "the emigrant imagination."The former "embrace[s] the new place it enters" and "strugglesto pierce the difference, the foreignness, the mystery of thenew place" whereas Marlatt identifies the latter with "the old-world nostalgia of the emigre" (Marlatt 219).The themes of emotional exile and alienation figureprominently in Kreisel's work. He wrote a doctoral dissertationon "The Problems of Exile and Alienation in Modern Literature"in which he discussed works by Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, D.H.Lawrence, and Virginia Woolf.2 The plot of both his novelsdevelops between the opposite poles of the Old World and theNew: Vienna and Toronto in The Rich Man (1948), Vienna andEdmonton in The Betrayal. In The Rich Man Kreisel shatters themyth of the hero setting out for a New World and thensuccessfully returning to the Old. The Old World fails the New,and the New World fails the Old. The gap cannot be bridged.2 Kreisel comments on his choice of authors: "Conrad wasclearly an exile figure, and I'd read Conrad quite a lot. D.H.Lawrence was a sort of double figure of both exile andalienation. Joyce was in one way the classic exile, and finallyVirginia Woolf, who might seem a strange choice to you becauseshe clearly was a member of the establishment and in no way anexile. Yet there is in her work, I discovered, a kind of inneralienation psychologically. I used her really for this innerkind of alienation" ("Certain Wordly Experiences: An Interviewwith Henry Kreisel" by Felix Cherniavsky 17).218Although The Betrayal does not deal with the experience ofgrowing up between two cultures as most of the texts I amdiscussing do, the novel exists, in Eli Mandel's words, "at aninterface of two cultures, a form concerned to define itself,its voice, in the dialectic of self and other and theduplicities of self-creation, transformation, and identities"(Mandel 274).The Betrayal is the story of two Austrian Jewish exileswho find refuge in Canada and a Canadian Jew who gets involvedin their conflict. Joseph Held escaped with his wife anddaughter from the persecution of the Nazis from Vienna toCanada. The family settled in Toronto, and after his wife'sdeath, Held and his daughter Katherine moved to Edmonton. Inorder to save his wife and daughter, Held had acquiesced to handover to the Nazis a group of Jews, among them Theodore Stapplerand his mother, who had entrusted their lives to him. The novelis set in 1952, thirteen years after this tragic event, the yearof the Korean War (23). Theodore Stappler had moved to Canadathree years earlier. He came to Edmonton from Toronto, where hecoincidentally learned about Held's whereabouts. Stappler is theonly surviving member of the group and had been trying to trackdown Held whose deed he cannot excuse. Stappler, who had becomeincreasingly distrustful of Held during the tragic train ridefrom Vienna to Saarbriicken followed the man and eavesdroppedupon his dialogue with a Nazi officer to find out that the groupwas to be arrested. Since, paralyzed with fear, Stappler was219incapable of warning the others, he believes himself to bepartly responsible for their deaths. Guilt made both men fleefrom themselves and from society.Held and Stappler are represented as doubles in a certainsense. They are "secret sharers" in that they both escaped froma past replete with corruption and pain, a "hell" whichCanadians, in Stappler's opinion, have been spared. Their twoencounters, the first in Held's home and the second in theVictoria Hotel, end in a "stalemate" as if each man could seehis own guilt reflected in the other. During their firstconfrontation Held learned about Stappler's failure to warn theothers and turned this discovery against him in self-defense.Stappler comments on this first encounter in his conversationwith Mark Lerner: "'I felt that I had come to a dead end. In away we had reached a stalemate, Held and I. In a curious way wehad found each other out. He found my weakness - by accidentperhaps. But he found it. And I found his'" (124-25). Duringtheir second encounter, witnessed by Mark Lerner and Held'sdaughter, Held expresses their dilemma: "'We both live with ourquestions.... Each alone. I alone. You alone. I bore it, allalone. For all these years. I shared it with nobody. Not mywife, not my daughter. I took it on myself. I alone'" (181).Both men are not only crippled emotionally by being Holocaustvictims and exiles from their home country but alsoprofessionally by being immigrants in Canada. Held, who was asuccessful lawyer in Vienna, sells real estate in Edmonton, and220Stappler, a former medical student, peddles encyclopaedias inToronto. In the end, Held and Stappler, symbolic figures of theEuropean past, both die tragically in the New World.As in Paul Zwilling, Vienna and the New World city arejuxtaposed. Whereas in Vondra's novel the two worlds never meetin the narrative present, Kreisel tests the New World byconfronting it with the conflicts of the Old World. Kreiselhighlights the difference between the Old World and the New inan elaborate net of parallel scenes and descriptions. For JosephHeld, Canada has been a place of anonymity and social isolation,but nevertheless a haven where he raised a daughter who hasgrown up Canadian protected from the knowledge of the horror ofthe past. As Held points out to Stappler he refrained fromchanging his name either as a precaution not to be tracked downby a survivor of the group or to claim a new identity in the NewWorld. Held is relieved that his identity is confirmed in theact of the past catching up with the present. The only thingthat keeps him alive, however, is to hide his part in the"betrayal" from his daughter.Theodore Stappler came to Canada on a quest of vengeancewhich gradually turns into a quest for self-knowledge. JosephCampbell's statement: "A hero ventures forth from the world ofcommon day into a region of supernatural wonder" (30) becomesironic when applied to Stappler's quest. The Europe of the late1930s and early 1940s was definitely not a "world of commonday." After the tragic events in Saarbriicken, Stappler had221briefly returned to Vienna and then escaped to Venice where hespent two years before illegally crossing the border to France.He was arrested in Lyon, marched off to the coast together withother so-called "enemy aliens," and in the bomb fire of Dunkirkmanaged to escape onto a British warship. He was first sent toan internment camp on the Isle of Man and then to camps inQuebec and New Brunswick from where he returned to England uponjoining the Pioneer Corps. As common as a refugee's odyssey likeStappler's may have been at that time, it certainly couldfictionally be represented as a heroic quest in itself. But TheBetrayal has a different focus. Vienna, Stappler's place ofbirth, is not depicted as the city of the blue Danube wherepeople waltz in the streets, but as a wasteland city and aDantesque inferno) Advised by a friend to hide since the dangerof being arrested had become too great, Stappler, in a state ofpanic, sought temporary refuge in the zoo. Here the Three Beastsof the Dark Wood of Error of Dante's opening Canto of theInferno greet him: "A leopard, a lion, and a wolf. I came therejust before feeding time. The lion roared with hunger. He had anenormous head. The wolf drooled. The leopard looked at me as ifhe wanted to block my way" (66).4 Stappler is still haunted by3 The Betrayal, which is a highly intertextual narrative,abounds in allusions to Eliot's "The Waste Land" and Dante's TheDivine Comedy. The juxtaposition of text and intertext invitesthe comparison of past and present. The intertexts are not usedas counterpoints to the main text, such as the quest myth is,but as a set of images to which the main text reacts.4 See Thomas E. Tausky (331).222Vienna's "cobbled streets, little winding streets that lead[him] to a dark wood" (65)5. Canada, in contrast, is for manyEuropeans, as Stappler points out, "an unsophisticated country,incapable of producing subtle works. A country of mountains andvast spaces and Indians and the mounted police" (34). Asked byLerner if he believed this to be true he avoids committinghimself to a straightforward answer: "'In a way, yes,'... It isan innocent country" (34). Campbell's description of the spaceinto which the hero proceeds on his quest as "a region ofsupernatural wonder" applies well to Canada as it is seenthrough these European eyes, namely as a place where man canexperience the sublime in Nature. It is significant in thiscontext that Edmonton and not Toronto or Vancouver is the placewhere the three men come together to pass judgement on the past.Stappler had always imagined his final confrontation with Heldas happening somewhere in the desert: "'....Only sand and sky.And nothing else. And there we would meet - the man and I...'"(48). Stappler's desert echoes Kreisel's description of theprairie as the place of the "least common denominator of nature,the skeleton requirements simply, of land and sky" (107).6 The5 Kreisel remembers Vienna as "a city of light, but thelight is always extinguished and darkness engulfs the city. Itis a city of great music and dance, but the music becomescacophonous and the dancers turn into grimacing and threateningfigures. It is a city of elegant streets and smart shops, butsuddenly the streets are full of frenzied, self-intoxicatedcrowds that turn murderous" ("Vienna Remembered" 57).6 Kreisel quotes W. 0. Mitchell's opening sentence from WhoHas Seen the Wind (1947) to bolster his argument that "alldiscussion of the literature produced in the Canadian west must223novel takes place in the dead of winter. Edmonton is coveredwith snow, and the temperature is well below zero. The freezingcold and its life-threatening potential, the fact that naturecan turn against man, is very present in the novel. WhenStappler arrives at the station in Edmonton, he tells Lerner, heheard a voice on the radio saying "'Edmonton, the Gateway to theNorth,'" and he thought that he had come "to the end of theworld" and that he would "go out of the station and there wouldbe a great mass of ice and people walking about with frozenfaces" (55). The cold mirrors the characters' paralysis. Withinthe temporal and spatial distance of the events that are stillhaunting both men, the emotions, however, have spent themselves.The narrator comments on the deflating effect which the firstencounter with his antagonist has on Stappler:For the pitiable man, sitting there on the chesterfield,shrunk into himself, he could feel no hatred, but nocompassion, either. The image of the man who had walkedalong the station platform in that faraway city to betraythe people who had trusted their lives to him seemed theimage of another man entirely, and it was increasinglydifficult for Theodore Stappler to relate the two. (114-5)The monster of the quest myth cannot be slain with the hero'sconventional weapons. In the novel Edmonton is not described asthe cultural wasteland, that Lerner's mother, from herTorontonian perspective, believes it to be. Edmonton's mostessential qualities, according to Stappler/Kreisel, are itsyouth, its innocence and its potential for growth. In Lerner'sof necessity begin with the impact of the landscape upon themind" ("The Prairie: A State of Mind" 107).224eyes, Edmonton so strongly identifies itself with the futurethat he finds it difficult to establish a link with the past inthis city:It is hard, for instance, to walk the streets of thisgrowing unself-conscious western city, where I have nowbeen living for two years teaching the turbulent history ofEurope to young Western Canadians, and to realize thatelsewhere the past is not merely history but something thattouches sensitive nerves, evokes powerful responses. (2)Thus Edmonton stands in sharp contrast to the decaying Old Worldcities.' As Stappler moves from one heterotopian space toanother on his first day in Edmonton, from the station to thepawnshop, to the library where an old man stares at him andannounces that "'.. . It's all in the stars...'" (59) andeventually to the Victoria Hotel next to the Chinese restaurantin which he would sleep "protected by" the green and red neondragon, and the sign in the window "Teacups Read Here. MadameSonora" the city appears in a "supernatural" light. The question"And what brings you here?" with which Stappler is confrontedwhenever he makes human contact, assumes an ominous quality.Edmonton is the first city where--apart from Held--Stappler doesnot know anybody. In contrast to Vienna, where he was forced tohide from the SS officers, in Edmonton Stappler felt he had to"establish his identity again, make his presence known" (59).Stappler meets his "Queen Goddess" in Edmonton in personof Joseph Held's daughter Katherine. Feelings of affection7 The juxtaposition of burgeoning Edmonton and the decayingOld World city is reminiscent of Caterina Edwards' The Lion's Mouth.225replace his initial plan of using her as a pawn. Katherine, whohas been kept in the dark about the past, is caught in themiddle between her love for her father and for Stappler.Katherine does not have the seductive and potentiallydestructive powers of the "temptress" of the quest myth. She isneither one of the "bitch-goddesses in American literature" norone of the "'mature' Venus-figures in European fiction" (Atwood206-207) but a "Diana" or "Maiden figure" which, in Atwood'sview, is a stock figure in Canadian writing (188). In Lerner'seyes she seems "so innocent and he [Stappler] obviously soexperienced, so obviously the man of the world. For him she wasclearly not the first" (41). Katherine embodies the innocentyoung Canadian who is not a match for the sophisticated,worldwise European Dandy. In the end Canadian innocence issaved: Katherine marries a young Canadian architect, moves toVancouver and has three children. When Stappler realizes he hasreached a point on his quest where he cannot "resolve theriddle" by himself, since his feelings for Katherine interferewith his wish to settle the accounts of the past, he makes MarkLerner, assistant professor of history, who happens to beKatherine's teacher, his "secret sharer."Mark Lerner is one of the numerous "observer-heroes" intwentieth-century fiction.8 Joseph Conrad first developed thistype of narrative in which a narrator tells a tale about a8 See Lawrence Buell, "Observer-Hero Narrative," Texas Studies in Literature and Language 21.1 (1979): 93-111.226seemingly more interesting character in Lord Jim, Heart of Darkness and Under Western Eyes.9 Unlike Marlow, Lerner does nothave a European mind, although, ironically, he says in the"Postscript" that after seven years of research he published hisbook on intellectual cross currents in post-revolutionaryFrance. Whereas the majority of these observer-heroes, such asThomas Mann's Serenus Zeitblom, Nabokov's V. and Conrad's Marlowcome to terms with their own past by telling the tale andreaching a certain degree of self-realization, Mark Lernerremains a relatively flat character. He is identified as anintellectual middle-class Canadian. His own past neither needsanalyzing nor does it harbour any painful memories. Like Robinand Laura in Paul Zwilling, he is represented as a New Worldperson without European depth, a depth he and the other twocharacters lack since their lives have not been tried byhistory. Unlike Marlow, Lerner does not need to dig up the"real" past, in contrast to his academic research on the past,since Stappler gradually reveals it to him. Lerner's Jewishbackground--his grandparents were emigrants from Warsaw--involuntarily makes him to a more intimate degree a secretsharer in the Holocaust aftermath. Lerner admits:'Yet if my grandfather had not come here, then I, too,would have been caught up in the European holocaust and I,too, might have fled desperately from country to country,as Theodore Stappler had done. And so, even as I resentedhis being here with me, disturbing the peace of myexistence, causing old ghosts to walk here, I had also to9 The parallels between Under Western Eyes (1910/11) and TheBetrayal have been worked out by Thomas E. Tausky.227accept him as if he were my more unfortunate brother. Partof me rejected him, but part embraced him.' (46-7)Mark Lerner and Theodore Stappler are represented as doubles.'The two men are repeatedly referred to as "brothers," and thereare numerous hints of an obscure bond and a fateful connectionbetween them. First of all there is the racial bond: Lerner isJewish and Stappler is half-Jewish. It is Lerner's recognitionof what "might have been" (Guerard 3) if his grandparents hadnot emigrated, of what Guerard refers to as a minor character'sreenactment of a "major character's traumatic experience," (3)or of what Rogers calls "secret kinship" (Rogers 41) that linkshim to Stappler. They are secret sharers since Lerner's refusalto judge at a crucial point and Stappler's passivity at the"crucial moment" in Saarbracken are comparable in that theycontributed to the decision over life and death. Therelationship between Stappler and Lerner as confessor andwitness is a power relationship similar to that of othernarrators and their heroes. A certain submissiveness to the heroor psychological dependence on him usually manifests itself inthe narrator. When Stappler tells Lerner that he had chosen himto be his witness, Lerner says that he was annoyed but that itseemed that he "had no choice in the matter" (51). Stappler goeson to explain the reason for his choice: Lerner is "an honestman" (47), "an impartial man" (50), and "a man of conscience. Of" Michael Greenstein observes: "The Doppelgdnger motiflinking Lerner and Stappler implicates the Canadian in theHolocaust by shrinking the phenomenological distance" (288).228conviction. Of principles" (108). In his judgement of Lerner'scharacter Stappler equates impartiality and moral uprightnesswith being Canadian. Part and parcel of this Canadianness isalso a certain puritan rationalism. "'You Canadians,'" Stapplertells him, "'You like to have clear answers to everything. Yesor no'" (50). Lerner also proves to be a Canadian inStappler's/Kreisel's eyes in his reluctance to get involved, histendency to distance himself from social concerns. Lerneradmits:I cannot, in all conscience, deny that part of me does notlike to become too involved with others. Brian Maxwell oncesuggested that I like the study of history because itinvolves me in the acts and sufferings of humanity but atthe same time allows me to keep involvements at arm'slength. (46)Unlike other observer-heroes, Lerner does not play any part inStappler's death, who, in typical Canadian manner, finds hisdeath in Nature--the ultimate monster.11 It is debatable,however, if Lerner could not have prevented Held's suicide if hehad committed himself to action. It was the moment of Held'sdeparture from the hotel after the second confrontation withStappler when Lerner decided that he "would set all this down,so that the act of writing would in itself be a kind of relief"(184). A relief for whom, the reader may ask. All that is leftto do for Lerner is get rid of the medicine bottle, the evidenceof Held's suicide, in order to protect Katherine from the truth.The motive of this action is also questionable. Lerner is more11 See the second chapter of Survival. Strangely enough,Atwood does not even mention The Betrayal.229interested in what happened there and then than in what happenshere and now. As a Canadian, Lerner finds his answer to "Whereis here?" in collecting Canadian paintings. In the "Postscript,"which sheds an ironic light on what Lerner has learned from hisinvolvement with European reality, Lerner smugly explains:I have gone on collecting paintings and the walls of theapartment are glowing and alive with the works of Canadianpainters, some famous, some hardly known, but all of themacquired because I responded to them immediately,spontaneously. Last year, when I was in Toronto, I boughta Lawren Harris--one of those silent peaks, all white,rising out of a blue sea, all still, serene and yetcuriously tense, as if at any time the white mass wouldshatter and break itself. In a way which I find hard toexpress, this painting seems to go together with my EmilyCarr, and I have hung them together, side by side, in mybedroom, on the wall facing my bed, so that I look at themwhen I wake in the morning and just before I turn out mylight to go to sleep. (205)Lerner lives his life vicariously. Stappler leaves Katherine tohim as a kind of legacy. To Lerner's observation: "'You areleaving Ophelia,'" Stappler replies: "'I leave her to you.Horatio will be kind to her...'" (160). But after a year'scourtship, shortly before they were to be married, Katherinebroke the relationship since she felt that the ghosts of thepast would always stand between them. Lerner may be anotherHoratio with his scholarly attitude, lack of passion andimagination, but he certainly fails Stappler on his quest asanother Virgil.Before Stappler meets Lerner on the afternoon of his finalconfrontation with Held, he experiences what he believes to bea hallucination. He sees his father sitting in the Chineserestaurant in the booth facing him and stops himself from going230over and addressing him. Stappler's father, a famous surgeon,"always spoke of his great responsibilities and of how conscioushe was of them" (149). Stappler tells Lerner that his father wasa very distant man and that he had never been very close to him.But he was dreaming that one day he was going to be a famousdoctor like his father and would work out a "Stappler Methode"and "would entertain guests from remote countries like Canada.They would come to sit at the feet of the master!" (149-150).Stappler's father had an affair with a young actress, and aftershe left him for a younger man drowned himself in the Danube. Hewas not Jewish, and if he had not killed himself, his wife andson might have been spared the horrors of the Holocaust. If oneaccepts the Lacanian concept of the symbolic order as a workinghypothesis, whereby the subject is given a position in acultural community through the name of the father, it is obviousthat the name of the father failed to secure Stappler a place inthe symbolic order of that particular community. Ironically,"Stappler" is a Jewish surname--in Yiddish stappeln means to'stalk.' Thus the son was twice betrayed by the father. It seemsthat with his wish to destroy Held, which means 'hero' inGerman, Stappler was also trying to murder the Father, as thequest myth would have it. Stappler speaks English not with aGerman accent but "like an Englishman" (60). This is his ownbetrayal of the paternal culture. After Held's death Stapplerreturns to the Old World and finds Vienna unchanged. He latertells Lerner: "'When I got there, it seemed like a city of the231dead to me. Like a sepulchre. The great Hapsburg palaces lookedlike tombs, monuments for a dead capital. The city was stilloccupied, still divided into zones...'" (213-14). He spentmonths doing nothing but sitting in cafes. Then one day his oldteacher Zeitelberger, "a man of great compassion and deephumanity" (214) crossed his path. Upon recognizing Stappler hecried: "'Stappler!... 'Du lebst noch! Du lebst noch!' ... Heembraced me there, right there in the street, as if I were hisson, you know, and he had just found me" (214). This spiritualguide and substitute father advised him to teach and healpeople. Stappler followed the advice and went through his"Purgatory" of earning a medical degree and becoming a doctor.His redemption had to take place in the Old World but hetells Lerner that he could not stay in Europe: "'I had tocome back to this country'". Stappler as "a new man" is going tostart "a new life" (215) in the far North. The journey was oneof descent and return. The descent into the Old World wasradically transforming. Equipped with Old-World knowledge--although as far as his medical degree goes he has to do hisexaminations over again in Canada--Stappler is ready for a lifeof humanitarian action in the New World. His quest is nowdirected towards the experience of "the real." When Stapplerstops over in Edmonton on his way north after eight years ofabsence, he sees the city as a promised land: "'It's magnificentto fly into this city at night. Suddenly, you know, out of animmense darkness there comes a great circle of light. God, how232marvellous!'" (211). But Stappler "had enough of cities" (215).Stappler does not choose to emigrate to Israel. The North is hisplace of healing and fulfillment.12 Unlike many Canadiannarratives written by Jewish Canadians and Americans, TheBetrayal does not envisage Canada as a "stopping-place"(Gerson), like for instance Eva Hoffman's Lost in Translation,but rather as a destination. A destination, however, does notautomatically equal home. Stappler is still in emotional exile.It is only in this heterotopian space of the North that Stapplerfinds meaning in life. The North stands in opposition to theurban experience. Like the hero in the quest myth, Stapplerreturns to his community with some "elixir for the restorationof society" (Campbell 197). Lerner quotes from one of Stappler'sletters: "'I must run,' he writes in one letter. 'I have to lookafter a fourteen-months old Eskimo baby.' Two days later hecontinues the letter. 'I stayed for ten hours to help the child,and now I am fairly sure that the child will live. I do what ispossible'" (216). Unlike Paul Zwilling, Theodore Stappler canredeem his emotional wasteland. Like Dostoyevski's Raskolnikov,he experiences the North as a place for healing. The dead heartof the Australian desert and the empty arctic waste of the far12 The flight to the North in pursuit of utopian dreams isa theme that pervades post-War Canadian literature, such asHarold Horwood's White Eskimo: A Novel of Labrador (1973),Claude Jasmin's Ethel et le terroriste (1964), and YvesTheriault's Tayaout, fils d'Acraquk (1969). In his perception ofthe North, Kreisel was influenced by the artists of the Group ofSeven who saw the North as the place of loneliness andreplenishment.233North do not have the same implications. The North takes onutopian qualities: "Time has been abolished, has been swallowedup in space" (217). Whereas Edmonton functioned only as a"stopping-place" for Stappler, the true North represents the endof his quest. Stappler learns to speak in yet another tongue:"Eskimo." He no longer feels like an exile. He finds "greatpeace" not only in the landscape but also in his interactionwith the local people who become his new community. Towards theend of the novel Lerner appears much more a stranger to theplace he calls home, Canada, than Stappler. He remains thedetached observer standing back from the country, whereasStappler--like Kreisel--exchanged not only one country foranother but also a language and a "frame of mind."But just like Paul Zwilling, The Betrayal does not redeemthe space between cultures. Neither of the two texts engages inthe "knitting [of] disparate and specific images from bothplaces" (Marlatt 223), the cultural syncretism that pervades theworks of Angelika Fremd, Caterina Edwards, Sandra Cisneros,Rachna Mara and Gloria Anzaldida.13 The absence of bricolage andhybridization or creolization in the two novels can partly beexplained by the fact that Vondra's and Kreisel's novels werewritten two decades before these women's texts. Syncretism,13 There is a curious utopian glimpse of hybridization inThe Betrayal in the form of one of Stappler's patients: "Or hetells me of a small, fat man, whose father was a Portuguesewhaler and whose mother was an Eskimo woman. 'The traits of bothpeoples go beautifully together, and here produced a man ofgreat vitality. And great good humour, too'" (216-7).234bricolaqe and hybridization are modes of thinking andrepresentation that have become foregrounded in the texts, musicand painting of the 1980s and 1990s. At the same time, however,it seems easier for female migrant writers to accept a thirdterm that blurs boundaries and questions binary thinking, acultural "maybe" between the "yes or no" (The Betrayal 50).235CONCLUSIONIMMIGRANTSwrap their babies in the American flag,feed them mashed hot dogs and apple pie,name them Bill and Daisy,buy them blonde dolls that blink blueeyes or a football and tiny cleatsbefore the baby can even walk,speak to them in thick English,hallo, babee, hallo,whisper in Spanish or Polishwhen the babies sleep, whisperin a dark parent bed, that darkparent fear, "Will they likeour boy, our girl, our fine americanboy, our fine american girl?"(Pat Mora)In comparative studies there is never a totally"homogeneous" field. Thus it is always the observer'sviewpoint that gives a certain unity to the corpus studied,and it is the analyst who decides which elements constitutefactors of homogeneity.(Mattei Dogan and Dominique Pelassy 151)The preceding analysis of ten texts written by migrants hasshown that not all of them employ counter-discursive strategiesto the same degree. Gender, the racial/ethnic and culturalbackground of the migrant writers and the (multi)culturalpolitics of their adopted countries give different shape to the"space between."Racial/Ethnic and Cultural BackgroundI have included texts from both racial minority writers and236white/European immigrants in my study. There are differencesbetween the texts written by Commonwealth women writers ofEuropean descent, such as Angelika Fremd and Caterina Edwards,and the texts written by women of colour, such as SandraCisneros and Rachna Mara. First of all, they approachintertextuality differently. The House on Mango Street and OfCustoms and Excise enter into a dialogue with only a few othertexts from their own literary tradition or those by otherwriters of colour. This dialogue sometimes becomes overtlypolitical when the writer opposes the ideology expounded by aparticular text. Thus, Sandra Cisneros, for example, "writesback" to male concepts of private and public space. TheEuropean-descended writer's reliance on a less focussed and moreimplicit intertextuality seems to spring from the fact that inspite of his/her marginal position in the new society, he/she isalso implicated with the colonizer. The awareness of theambiguity of power relationships and authority manifests itselfin a manipulation of literary traditions in his/her text.At the same time, the migrant woman of colour is moreinterested in the interplay of the two languages in which shelives: Mara and Cisneros employ oppositional strategies to alarger extent than Fremd and Edwards at the level of language.The mother tongue confirms itself in their texts through codeswitching and syntactic fusion. Mara and Cisneros are also moreconcerned with the exploration of individual and communalidentity. The acknowledgment of the community as a support237system, however, goes hand in hand with the exploration ofsexism and restrictive traditions imposed on women by theirrespective ethnic communities.In contrast, Richard Rodriguez discounts the experience ofrace and ethnicity and claims that class and thus access toeducation is a much more decisive factor in forming identity ina new society. Neither Eva Hoffman nor Henry Kreisel representsJewishness as a factor in the assimilation process. It is thebackward glance to the atrocities of the Holocaust, the pastintruding into the present, which shapes the lives of the oldergeneration in the New World in Lost in Translation andparticularly in The Betrayal. It would be a fascinating, thoughof course, highly challenging task to compare the Jewishexperience in Australia, Canada and the United States to see ifJewish writers in the New World write more as Jews or asAustralians, Canadians and Americans. Carole Gerson, forinstance, claims that "[u]nlike their Canadian counterparts,Australian Jews tend to write more as Australians than as Jews"(Gerson 103).1 The past and present immigration policies of1 The stronger identification of migrants in Australia withthe culture of their host country can be explained by the factthat Australia's nationalism and sense of cultural identity ismuch stronger than Canada's and that Australia is not such asubstantially plural society as Canada. Australia's strongernational identity plays an important part in absorbing culturalminority groups into mainstream society by providing moreclearly defined norms of societal behaviour than Canada is ableto. R.W. Bibby in his book Mosaic Madness: The Poverty andPotential of Life in Canada (1990) claims that Canadians intrying to accomodate every culture have ended up with no gluethat holds the nation together.238countries play an important part in the bias of these double ortriple allegiances (to the writer's native country). A study,however, that could make a clear statement about the influenceof cultural background on discursive practices would have to"compare" texts written by authors of the same culturalbackground in various adopted countries. In order to achievevalid results one would have to eliminate differences of class,age, and gender between the writers and the publication dates oftheir texts.Cultural background shapes the text by way of the literarytraditions which it re-writes. Franco Biondi, for example,reterritorializes a genre, namely the novella, which had itsmodern origin in Italy, and a story, namely that of Romeo andJuliet, which Shakespeare adopted from Italian novellas.Angelika Fremd disperses elements of German works of literatureand Caterina Edwards quotes Dante and an Italian partisan songin her text. Culture also influences the choice of the settingof the text and of certain themes. Cisneros' stories, forexample, take place in a Latino barrio and some of Mara'sstories in India. The Betrayal and Lost in Translation deal withthe aftermath of the Holocaust. Cultural background becomes acultural burden in the texts written by German and Austrian-bornwriters such as Angel ika Fremd and Josef Vondra. Theirprotagonists encounter the stereotype that German equals Naziand the ensuing hostility of some members in their newcommunities. The writer's cultural background sometimes also239determines his/her political position within the new country.Out of solidarity with other foreign minorities in Germany,Franco Biondi avoids giving his protagonist a specific ethnicidentity--but only as an Italian writer with a relatively welldeveloped literary and political support system can he afford todo so. The fact that Akif Pirincci is a Turk puts him in adifferent position. As a member of the "silent" and mostalienated ethnic minority in Germany, he writes back to conceptsof "Gastarbeiterliteratur" developed by other ethnic minoritiesin Germany. An unexpected conclusion of my study has been thatthe writer's gender is perhaps an even greater influence ondiscursive strategies than racial/ethnic or cultural background.GenderMarjorie Garber points out that Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubarin their study of male and female transvestism in modernistliterature have found that while cross-dressing is described asempowering in the works of Gertrude Stein, Djuna Barnes andVirginia Woolf, it is viewed as "unsettling and degrading" (9)by male modernists like T.S. Eliot, James Joyce and D.H.Lawrence. Garber warns against falling into these old pitfallsof dividing along gender lines instead of "sexual orientation orany other cultural determinant" (10). Taking these warnings intoconsideration, I have shown, however, that there are differencesalong gender lines in terms of preference for certain genres or240discursive strategies in the texts I have chosen. Where malewriters--and this is true of both mainstream and minoritywriters--have turned away from the Bildungsroman as a seriousand valid form to explore the socialization of a young man,there has been a proliferation of the female Bildungsroman inthe late twentieth century. The decline of the classicBildungsroman went hand in hand with the rise of the anti-heroin fiction. While male writers have resorted to parodying theclassic form of the Bildungsroman or transforming it into apicaresque novel, female writers have re-written the classicform by creating female heroes who are survivors of externalbattles with patriarchal institutional forces and internal oneswith a split inner self.Despite the post-structuralist refutation of logocentriccategories, truth, authenticity and wholeness remain validconcepts for many female/feminist writers. The female migrantBildungsroman is often at the same time a Klanstlerroman. GraceAnn Hovet points out that the "voice metaphor" in femaleinitiation stories contrasts with the "visual metaphor, with itsemphasis on quest and sight" in male initiation stories (20).Angelika Fremd, Caterina Edwards and Sandra Cisneros stress theimportance of their protagonists' ability to tell their ownstories (in the Other language). Hovet concludes that the "voicemodel necessitates relationships and community in a way that thevision/quest model does not" (21). The relationship between theprotagonists and the community is indeed pictured differently in241male and female migrant fiction. Even though she raises her owndaughter according to different principles, Mala in Of Customs and Excise is eventually reunited with her mother and validatesher story by telling it. The narrator of The Lion's Mouth findsher own identity by relating her cousin Marco's story,emancipates herself from male-defined images of herself and willhelp her young Italian niece to overcome the traumaticexperience of having witnessed a murder. Sandra Cisneros'protagonist Esperanza finds support in the female community and,as a writer, will one day become a model for other women. InAngelika Fremd's novel, which has a less community orientedending, Inge succeeds in freeing herself from a life-denyingfamily and hopes to find healing in "write[ing] it all down."The texts written by male migrants end on a less hopeful note.Franco Biondi's text leaves it open as to whether hisprotagonist Mamo will die or be taken to jail. Theodore Stappleris buried by an avalanche and Mark Lerner resigns himself to theidea of spending the rest of his life alone after Katherine Heldbreaks their engagement. Paul Zwilling and Willi Holzbein willnot find the happiness they seek in relationships with womenbecause of their migrant past and Akif survives his suicideattempt bruised but not much wiser.Women live in a "liminal" space as a consequence of theirexistence on the margins of patriarchal society. Like Caliban,Miranda has learned her language from Prospero. The art ofadaptability, camouflage and oppositional practice is242characteristic of feminine discourse.2 Since her tool is acolonized language, "becoming minor" in Deleuze and Guattari'ssense is easier to achieve for the female writer. Talking aboutthe biological base of logocentrism in the specialization ofleft-brain rational functions and the concomitant suppression ofright-brain relational sense, Rosemary Radford Ruether claimsthat "[t]his biological tendency has been exaggerated bysocialization into dominant and subordinate social roles.Dominant social roles exaggerate linear, dichotomized thinkingand prevent the development of culture that would correct thisbias by integrating the relational side" (Ruether 148). Thefemale migrant writers whose works I have discussed feel more athome in the "borderlands." Mestizaje, mixing of languages,transgression of genre and hybridization are discursivestrategies which are more extensively employed in the textswritten by women than in those written by men.The female short story cycle is another "belated" genrewhich, like the Bildunqsroman, offers itself as a form toexpress the tension between personal and communal identity.Forrest Ingram in his study of early and mid-twentieth-centuryshort story cycles incorporates only male authors in his study.32 See, for example, Alicia Ostriker, "The Thieves ofLanguage: Women Poets and Revisionist Mythmaking" and LorraineWeir, "Toward a Feminist Hermeneutics: Jay Macpherson'sWelcoming Disaster."3 Ingram discusses short story cycles by James Joyce, AlbertCamus, John Steinbeck, Franz Kafka, William Faulkner andSherwood Anderson.243The exclusion of female authors from his discussion is a signnot so much of androcentric bias as of the actual absence ofshort story cycles written by women from the literary scene atthat time. In the late twentieth century, however, the shortstory cycle has been adopted particularly by women writers inpost-colonial societies. The male migrant writers whom I discussin my thesis, on the other hand, re-write the male archetypalquest, the Novelle and the picaresque novel. Both the Novelle and the picaresque novel used to be (and still are) genresfavoured by male writers whereas there are quite a few earlyexamples of the female Bildunqsroman. Male migrant writers showa tendency to follow in the footsteps of their malepredecessors, while female migrant writers are more experimentalin their choice of genre.Eva Hoffman's autobiography Lost in Translation differsfrom the other texts written by the migrant women whom I discussin that it resorts to patriarchal discourse. Hoffman does notreflect on the androcentric tradition of the genre. On thecontrary, adopting Benjamin Franklin, Henry Adams, Alfred Kazinand Norman Podhoretz as her role models, she subscribes to thepatriarchal separation between public and private life and thedevaluation of the latter. Sidonie Smith points out:If she [the woman autobiographer] inscribes a 'masculine'story of cultural significance she approaches the center of'autobiography' from her position of cultural marginality;but she simultaneously becomes implicated in a complexposture of transvestism, becoming a 'man' and therebypromoting the ideology of the 'same.' In telling her lifeas a 'man,' she collaborates in the marginalization ofwoman and her story. (Smith 3)244Along with Hoffman's adoption of the male model of self-representation goes her adoption of the American story ofsuccessful assimilation into the melting pot. Hoffman who haslived in both countries, Canada and the United States, was neverable to find a community in Canada. American immigrationpolitics and, above all, the American ideology of assimilationmade it much easier for her, so she claims in Lost inTranslation, to find a place in that society.(Multi)cultural PoliticsI have found that the social attitudes which the newcomer meetsand the language policies of the host country have an impact onthe migrant's discourse. Whereas Canada and Australia haveadopted multiculturalism as their official state policy, Germanyand the United States have not. The Australian brand ofmulticulturalism, in particular, was legitimized in 1989 by theNational Agenda for a Multicultural Australia which guarantees"the right of all Australians to equality of treatment withincarefully defined limits," "the removal of barriers of race,ethnicity, culture..." and the government's commitment to"utilise effectively the skills and talents of all Australians,regardless of background."4 The historical development towards4 See Lois Foster and Anne Seitz, "The Politicization ofLanguage Issues in 'Multicultural' Societies: Some Australianand Canadian Comparisons." Canadian Ethnic Studies 21.3 (1989),59.245a multicultural society in Canada has been different from thatin Australia because, first of all, Canada has two foundingnations and two official languages. In 1988 the House of Commonsproclaimed the Canadian Multiculturalism Act "for thepreservation and enhancement of multiculturalism in Canada."'The Canadian Multicultural Council and the Office ofMulticultural Affairs in Australia are, among other things,responsible for the allocation of funds for cultural andeducational programmes, multicultural literature and artsprojects, and grants for multicultural writers and artists.In Germany, multiculturalism has been foregrounded in thediscussion of the Auslanderpolitik since the late 1980s as aconcept to counter new nationalist and racist movements.' Incontrast to the Australian and Canadian multiculturalism acts,the Deutsches Auslanderrecht (1990) does not guarantee equalityof treatment to foreigners living in the Federal Republic.'Issues of integration are left to the initiative of theindividual Bundeslander. Frankfurt am Main, which founded the' The Trudeau government had already entrenched themulticultural nature of Canada in the Charter of Rights andFreedoms, and the expression "the multicultural heritage ofCanadians" was enshrined in the Constitution in 1982.' See^'Multikulturelle Gesellschaft'^in Brockhaus Enzyklopadie in 24 Banden, Vol 15 (Mannheim: F.A. Brockhaus,1991) 173-76.7 Approximately forty-five percent of the six million"foreigners" living in the Federal Republic, however, have beenliving there for more than fifteen years and sixty percent forover ten years (Gebauer). Part of the problem is that Germanydoes not permit dual citizenship.246Amt far multikulturelle Angelegenheiten in 1989, Stuttgart andBerlin have been in the political vanguard of procuring accessto political participation for foreigners living in the FederalRepublic.8 A text written by an Italian migrant who lives inGermany is shaped by the political debate about theAuslandergesetze and the reality of the foreigner's inequalityin the country. It thus reflects a different reality than textswritten by Italians in Australia, Canada and the United States.Countries sometimes adopt metaphors to express theideologies which form their (multi)cultural politics. Althoughthe melting-pot metaphor of the United States and that of theCanadian mosaic9 have never appropriately reflected thehistorical reality, there are still obvious national biasestoward universalism and pluralism respectively which go back tothe history of the immigration policies of the two countries.Beginning with the nativist movement of the 1850s, the UnitedStates asked for a willingness to abandon ethnic culture andtradition as a proof of citizenship. Howard Palmer in hiscomparison of immigration and ethnicity in Canada and the UnitedStates and their alleged bias toward cultural pluralism anduniversalism respectively reminds the reader that there is "sometruth to this distinction," but that it "oversimplifies both the8 See Brockhaus Enzyklopadie.9 The term 'mosaic' is not an offspring of the multiculturaldebate of the last two decades but was, in fact, often used inthe early twentieth century such as in John Murray Gibbon'sbook, The Canadian Mosaic: The Making of a Northern Nation(1938).247American and the Canadian experiences" (Palmer 487). In theUnited States the metaphor of the melting pot fell intodisfavour in the 1960s when, in the wake of the civil rights andBlack Power movements, European-descended migrants, too, becamemore conscious of their ethnic roots. Palmer concludes:That ethnicity has remained a more significant aspect ofCanadian life than of American is due less to the factthat Canadians have not demanded as much conformity asAmericans, than to two other factors: circumstances workedto maintain a regionally concentrated French-Canadianculture; and during the twentieth century, immigrants havecontinued to come to Canada in substantial numbers inproportion to the total population. (527)He mentions, however, two factors that might, after all, beresponsible for differences in the ideology of assimilationbetween the United States and Canada. Canadians, according toPalmer, "were less able to define a norm of assimilation" (523)and "the question of reconciling ethnicity with individualism isa greater issue, however, in the United States than in Canadasince individualism is a much more deeply rooted part of theAmerican ethos" (521). The current debate in the United Statesbetween the "ethnicity school" and the "class, gender, raceapproach" (Wald) shows that the development of the new ethnicityin the United States and of multiculturalism in Canada and theirconcomitant discourses have gone separate ways. RichardRodriguez' and Eva Hoffman's autobiographies attest to thefailure of reconciling the experience of being an Americancitizen with a belief in the empowering force of ethnicity andthe emancipatory act of "becoming minor."248Intertextuality, Parody and Re-writing GenreMikhail Bakhtin regards intertextuality, or dialogism as hecalls it in Problems of Dostoevskv's Poetics and later in TheDialogic Imagination, as the interplay between authors and worksof literature. Bakhtin believed in the involvement of "twospeaking subjects" (Dialogic 76) in dialogism, whereas JuliaKristeva, who appropriated some of Bakhtin's ideas and developedthem from a (post)structuralist perspective, moves away from thenotion of an autonomous subject and gives the text a muchbroader, semiotically grounded interpretation on which she basesher definition of intertextuality:Nous appellerons INTERTEXTUALIT cette inter-actiontextuelle qui se produit & l'interieur d'un seul texte.Pour le sujet connaissant, l'intertextulite est une notionqui sera l'indice de la facon dont un texte lit l'histoireet s'insere en elle." ("Narration et Transformation" 443)In Desire in Language she argues that intertextuality is thesite of plurality and subversion. Whereas some critics ofpostmodern literature suggest that intertextuality is apostmodern phenomenon, Bakhtin points out that the dialoguebetween Medieval and Renaissance authors with earlier texts(from other cultures) was a common phenomenon (Dialogic 68).Only if intertextuality becomes a self-begetting principle ofthe text can it be identified as a postmodern strategy. Theforegrounding of the text's intertextuality as its centralstructural principle became a particular hallmark of Americanmetafictional (or surfictional) writing which flourished in the249late 1960s and 1970s.n Linda Hutcheon prefers the term parodyto intertextuality because the latter term is often understood,particularly in Anglo-American post-structuralist criticism, asdehistoricized recycling of past forms. In A Poetics of Postmodernism: History, Theory, Fiction she states:What I mean by 'parody' ... is not the ridiculing imitationof the standard theories and definitions that are rooted ineighteenth-century theories of wit. The collective weightof parodic practice suggests a redefinition of parody asrepetition with critical distance that allows ironicsignalling of difference at the very heart of similarity.(26)Hutcheon sees "an equally self-conscious dimension of history"("Historiographic Metafiction: Parody and the Intertextuality ofHistory" 3) at work, in addition to self-reflexivity andintertextuality, in what she calls historiographic metafiction.She argues that "postmodernist parody is a value-problematizing,denaturalizing form of acknowledging the history (and throughirony, the politics) of representations" ("The Politics ofPostmodern Parody" 225). In some respects, my interpretation ofre-writing comes close to Hutcheon's definition of postmodernistparody. Migrant re-writings also problematize the history and,in particular, the politics of representation. What makesAngelika Fremd's re-writing of The Getting of Wisdom or Francon Writers such as John Barth, Donald Barthelme, RaymondFederman, William Gass and others practiced a style of writingthat is cut off from agency. Furthermore, although postmodernistcritics claim that metafictional texts subvert traditionalbelief systems and ways of seeing, it is important to keep ArunMukherjee's observation in mind that "the metafictions ofpostmodernism stop having that effect because of our increasingfamiliarity with their stylistic manoeuvres" ("Whose Post-Colonialism and Whose Postmodernism" 4).250Biondi's of Romeo und Julia auf dem Dorfe different from aparody of Shakespeare's Hamlet in Tom Stoppard's Rosenkrantz andGuildenstern are Dead or that of parts of Homer's Odyssey inChrista Wolf's Cassandra, is the fact that it is situated in apost-colonial context.11 The oppositional thrust of migrant re-writing is directed against the metropolis, the centre of powerand the discourses that emanate from it.M.M. Bakhtin's notion of human agency in the process ofintertextuality and Kristeva's broadening of the concept of textare essential to my interpretation of re-writing. Re -writing isan intentional, political dialogue with specific texts in thebroad sense of cultural formation. I have found that the re-writing of genre and not that of a particular literary text isthe most prevalent form of writing back in migrant literature.Whenever the migrant writer enters into a dialogue with aspecific work of literature, he/she engages in a re-writing ofthat work's particular genre at the same time. In this respectthe texts I have discussed differ from, for example, Jean Rhys'sThe Wide Sargasso Sea which cannot be said to be a re-writing ofthe novel, or from Rosenkrantz and Guildenstern are Dead whichis a tragicomedy but not a re-writing of tragedy.11 Most post-colonial critics share the basic assumptionthat post-colonial literatures are the literatures which havebeen affected by the legacy of the European imperial dominationand have developed certain strategies to unmask Europeanauthority. Since this legacy takes on different shapes in so-called settler/invader countries and invaded countries, it isessential for the discussion of a particular text to determinethe writer's position within the neo/post-colonial distributionof power.251Pavel N. Medvedev, a member of the Bakhtin group, claimsthat genre is a specific way of conceptualizing reality: "Onemight say that human consciousness possesses a series of innergenres for seeing and conceptualizing reality. A givenconsciousness is richer or poorer in genres, depending on itsideological environment" (Medvedev 134). In his essay "TheProblem of Speech Genres," Bakhtin does not restrict the termgenre to literary phenomena. Literary genres are only one typeof the more complex manifestations of "highly developed andorganized cultural communication" (62) which he calls "secondaryspeech genres." The migrant writer's shift from one language toanother and the psychological adjustment to another culturemakes him/her sensitive to different ways of conceptualizingreality. This situation permits the writer, in Deleuze andGuattari's words, "to forge the means for another consciousnessand another sensibility" (17). Once the migrant writer achieveslinguistic fluency as well as a certain cultural ambi-dexterity,he/she becomes not only a "juggler of cultures" (Anzaldila 79)but also a juggler of genres. Bakhtin claims: "genres must befully mastered in order to be manipulated freely" (80). Themigrant writers in my study do not foreground intertextuality asthe self-begetting principle of the text. Self-reflexiveness inmigrant literature lies in the self-conscious treatment of Selfand Other, of personal and textual history.252WORKS CITEDAntin, Mary.^The Promised Land. Boston: Houghton Mifflin,1912.Anzaldda, Gloria. 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