The colonial act is measured and enunciated by homesickness. The colony verily creates itself with homesickness, a looking toward whatever ‘home’ is imaged as. That this toward is also and at the same time a glance over the shoulder, backwards, encapsulates the contradictory nature of the colonising moment, a striking out for and inhabiting of new territory at the same time as every attempt is made, within that space, to replicate the home. And so, the colony arises out of its homesickness, its inability to forget or to leave behind. This imprint or trace of old imposed on new and new imposed on old, bespeaks a double écriture, a writing with a shadow; homesickness’s shadow falls across the Commonwealth, its pluralism and its discourse. But the Commonwealth can no longer consider itself an unruptured collection (Wilson 1988, 108) and the post-colonial moment that writers who fall within that designation inhabit now cannot help but be self-conscious about its double écriture. This is especially true for those descendants of colonists, themselves post-colonial but never quite as ‘othered’ as the original inhabitants and their descendants. Edward Said’s reminder that colonialism and imperialism are ‘the major social and economic outside facts of ... existence’ (Said 1983, 177), too often ignored by novelists and critics alike, bespeaks a necessary re-écriture, a writing of the Other (Lacan 1977) (Said 1989) into the post-colonial text.
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