Language, Writing and Identity
Fron Ashcroft, Bill,Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures.
New York: Routledge, 1989.
the unease with the 'gulf' between imported language and local world became in time a radical questioning of the relationship between language and the world, an investigation into the means of knowing rather into what is, or can be, known.

early stages--concerted call for 'native' literature and 'native' critical tools

"inauthenticity" of the World/Word 140-41

Dennis Lee and Robert Kroetsch

see the problem as more than a simple mismatch between language and landscape, which might solve itself in time through progressive familiarity iwth the land and adaptation of the language into it. To them it was a situation in which the perceived 'inauthenticity' of the spoken New World/Word became the site of investigation and expression. . .[Kroetsch 43]

At one time I considered it to be the task of the Canadian writer to give names to his experience, to be the namer. I now suspect, that, on the contrary, it is his task to un-name. . . the Canadian writer's particular predicament is that he works with a language witin a literature, that appears to be his own. . . But there is in the Canadian word a concealed other experience, sometimes British, sometimes American. The problem appeared to reside in a radical 'inauthenticity' in the word, and the key to the relation between land and language lay first of all, ..., in silence, and then, in K's terms, in 'unhiding the hidden', in 'unnaming.'

silence 142-43

The 'first necessity for the colonial writer,' Dennis Lee notes, . . ., is for the 'imagination' to 'come home.' But this is not possible for the colonial, because the 'word of home are silent':

. . .

But perhaps--and here was the breakthrough--perhaps our job was not to fake a space of our own and write it up, but rather to find words for our space-lessness. . . Instead of pushing against the grain of an external, uncharged language, perhaps we should finally come to writing with that grain.

Lee's 'solution' at least partly answer the problem of hte transplanted/transported post-colonial territories whilst avoiding the untenable nationalist position.

re-writing the canonical texts

Findley's Not Wanted on the Voyage

In Findley's radical interrogation of the story of the flood, the great myth of salvation becomes a saga of destruction in the name of minority righteousness and the extension of petty power. Dr. Noah Noyes' dedication to the God he has created in his own image results in the annihilation of other life forms in the world--the fairies, the unicorns, the dragons, and the demons--and the marginalization and radical suppression of others--women and animals. To put it another way, once western thinking has been codified in and sanctioned by the book of Genesis, 'Othering' in its most radical form has been achieved. Genesis thus becomes, in F's account, not the beginnning, but the end, and the story of the Ark a stroy not of redemption, but of marginalization and destruction.

Mrs. Noyes "The only principle that matter are yours"


by naturalizing the ash as 'snow', 'a miracle' within his own system, Noah both denatures the outside challenge and actually capitalizes on it by having it bolster his own powers of ascribing meaning. Hierarchies and 'systems' of the kind Noah/Yaweh represents depend for their functioning on rigid categorizations, specifically on binary codifications of the kind embodied in Doctor Noyes (no/yes) own name. . .

the novel contests the view of Noah and his cohorts . . . by suggesting the possibility of an infinite network of negotiation. (the world of Mottyl, Mrs. Noyes, the Unicorn, and Crowe)