Friday 20th of May 2022


Postcolonial Writing and the Language of Female Upward Mobility in This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga
Federica Zullo, Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo pdf_icon_30x30
AbstractThis essay considers Zimbabwean author Tsitsi Dangarembga’s third novel, This Mournable Body (2018), focusing on its peculiar linguistic and stylistic features, along with the protagonist’s search for upward mobility in contemporary Zimbabwean society. Drawing from Homi Bhabha’s concept of “beyond space”, I elaborate on the way the female protagonist’s identity is formed against the singularities of class and gender as primary and organizational categories. Tambu’s troubled and painful experiences, both in the urban and in the rural environments, mirror the difficult negotiation that affects the woman’s process of identity formation and her politics of location in a country where the discourse of independence has been replaced by neocolonial processes within the new nation, regarding, for example, questions of race, gender, and economic inequalities. To explore the language in which these issues are expressed, I share Elleke Boehmer’s assumptions on postcolonial poetics, which considers postcolonial writing to be as concerned as other kinds of literary writing with questions of aesthetics - form, structure, perception, and reception – so that postcolonial criticism entails a close attention to linguistics and stylistics. Tsitsi Dangarembga displays some of the strategies adopted by postcolonial writers at the lexical, syntactic, discoursal and rhetorical levels. For example, we highlight the use of native words in Shona, grammatical deviations, unusual collocations, and code-switching. The novel is also a “you-narrative”, and we observe how the second person, which places Tambudzai as the direct addressee of the story, her story, conveys peculiar postcolonial themes in a more direct and effective way. From the analysis of Dangarembga’s work, it emerges what Gilmour and Steinitz call “bilingual creativity”, reproducing the everyday multilingualism that constitutes the lived experience of individuals and communities in contemporary societies.

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