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Brian Friel's Subjectification and Hybridity: A Focus on Translations

  • Journal of Modern English Drama
  • Abbr : JMBARD
  • 2010, 23(2), pp.109-138
  • Publisher : 한국현대영미드라마학회
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature > Contemporary English Drama

Jeong Youn Gil 1

1동국대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Today Irish writers in literature, philosophy, and history, as well as other discourses, are in the process of rewriting Ireland. Friel is concerned particularly with the images and myths that have shaped the national consciousness. In demythologizing some of these images and myths, they hope to alter the cultural foundations that sustain many of the traditional prejudices that inhibit cultural and political harmony. This essay explores how Brian Friel rejects traditional and normative concept of language and national identity and how he reconfigures through his works postcolonial alternative forms of language and national identities. Hinging upon Homi Bhabha’s theory of “hybridity, ambivalence, in-between and the third space,” this study puts a great emphasis on the possibility of multiple perspectives by which we look at and interpret the problem of identity and language in understanding postcolonial Ireland. I focus on how Friel turns his postcolonial milieu into alternative forms so that his works could provide an alternative perspective which shows the process of postcolonial subjectification and renarrates his nation/history/identity. There is the appropriation of language/culture of the colonial Ireland in the 1830s in Translations. The play dramatizes some of the key issues pertaining to Anglo-Irish colonial relations and depicts Bailybeg in Donegal country around 1830. Translations became the crucible in which various elements of his outlook on language, fiction, and history fused. What Friel captures in Translations is a critical passage in Ireland’s history when the last remnants of a living Gaelic culture are about to become Anglicized. Colonial mapping typically involves the demarcation of such cultural territories as self and other, center and margin and the concomitant superimposition of imperial values on the colonized. Friel’s concerns are the act of translation and communication. It is based on the linguistic theory of George Steiner. These concerns have been transformed into a political device to hide and to reveal the colonial intentions as well as the post-colonial implications. Brian Friel like Hugh in this play makes English his own language in order to create a very special Irish English. As a conclusion, Translations demonstrates a keen awareness of the relations between language, politics, and history. Friel describes the extinction of the Gaelic by the colonial England, and shows the emergence of the new language, Irish English. He says there is a possibility that a new identity can be constructed through the formation of the new language.

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