Oral History and the Writing of the Other in Ondaatje's In the Skin of a Lion

Eluned Summers-Bremner, Department of Women's Studies, University of Auckland, Australia

Post Colonial Literature in English: Canada

This abstract from the CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture appears with the kind permission of Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek. Copyright remains of course with the author and CLCWeb

Eluned Summers-Bremner pursues in her paper "Reading Ondaatje's Poetry" a psychoanalytic reading of Ondaatje's poetry based on Lacan's thought, highlighting occasions where nature and culture meet. Focusing on the volumes Secular Love and The Man with Seven Toes, Summers-Bremner explores how nature's troubled regions are navigated through the structural estrangement of looking for a name. In Lacanian terms, a proper name signals the contradiction of one's belonging to a biological or other kind of family, whence one's name often arises, and being a user or respondent of language, which produces meaning through its infringement or exceeding of its users' intentions, language being prototypically Other or alienating in this sense. Ondaatje's poetry engages nature continually, in a dynamically architectonic fashion, as a world at once embodied and infused with cultural and linguistic losses, a field of structural liminality whose correlatives are memory, love, and desire. The poetry's engagement of nature in the guise of a reading -- as of a letter, code, or name -- puts loss, as does psychoanalysis, in its proper context as the enabler which drives reading and writing subjectivity as a colloquy with these other terms.

Full text of this article.

Postcolonial Web India OV Canada Michael Ondaatje

Last modified: 12 August 2004