mercredigirl: Picture of ginger, captioned: 'Old ginger is the hottest (a Chinese idiom)? Nah, I'm pretty bitchy too!' (Ginger!)
[personal profile] mercredigirl
Great Expectations is a novel which has been historically acclaimed as a portrait of the Victorian society of Eng-land, and of the social mobility that was taking place during this time of upheaval. Named for the autocratic monarch of the country at that time, this period was marked by a gradual liberalisation of the native warlords (who began taking on a more political than military role) and of the gender-segregated and caste-based society. The author of the novel, Dickens Charles (Man or Male-person, a common Eng-land name), was one of the most representative writers of Eng-land.

My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip1, my infant tongue could make of both names nothing longer or more explicit than Pip. So, I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip.

I give Pirrip as my father's family name, on the authority of his tombstone and my sister - Mrs. Joe2 Gargery, who married the blacksmith. As I never saw my father or my mother, and never saw any likeness of either of them (for their days were long before the days of photographs), my first fancies regarding what they were like, were unreasonably derived from their tombstones3. The shape of the letters on my father's, gave me an odd idea that he was a square, stout, dark man, with curly black hair. From the character and turn of the inscription, "Also Georgiana4 Wife of the Above," I drew a childish conclusion that my mother was freckled and sickly. To five little stone lozenges, each about a foot and a half long, which were arranged in a neat row beside their grave, and were sacred to the memory of five little brothers of mine - who gave up trying to get a living, exceedingly early in that universal struggle - I am indebted for a belief I religiously entertained that they had all been born on their backs with their hands in their trousers-pockets, and had never taken them out in this state of existence.

Ours was the marsh country, down by the river, within, as the river wound, twenty miles of the sea. My first most vivid and broad impression of the identity of things, seems to me to have been gained on a memorable raw afternoon towards evening. At such a time I found out for certain, that this bleak place overgrown with nettles5 was the churchyard6; and that Philip Pirrip, late of this parish7, and also Georgiana wife of the above, were dead and buried; and that Alexander8, Bartholomew9, Abraham10, Tobias11, and Roger12, infant children of the aforesaid, were also dead and buried; and that the dark flat wilderness beyond the churchyard, intersected with dykes13 and mounds and gates, with scattered cattle feeding on it, was the marshes; and that the low leaden line beyond, was the river; and that the distant savage lair from which the wind was rushing, was the sea; and that the small bundle of shivers growing afraid of it all and beginning to cry, was Pip.


1 Horse-lover. The Anglo-Saxon peoples originated as nomadic horse-tribes. A Christian name is the given name of the person, typically bestowed upon a child in a religious initation ritual called christening. A family name is a second name common to all members of a patriarchal family unit. These peoples put the given name preceding the family name.
2 An abbreviation of the common name He-will-add (Joseph). Mrs is a prefix that indicates his aunt was the wife of Gargery Joe. Women in this time legally renounced their own names and properties upon their marriages.
3 These people traditionally bury their dead and erect over the graves small squarish stones carved with the names of the deceased.
4 A female form of the common name Farmer (George).
5 A weed which stings the hands, common to the inhospitable terrain of Eng-land.
6 A burial-yard attached to a church (religious building; these people are typically monotheists whose central tenet of faith is the incarnation, execution and resurrection of their god).
7 The region supervised by a single member of their priesthood.
8 Defender-of-men.
9 Son-of-the-furrowed.
10 Father-of-a-multitude. In their tribal mythology, this was a nomad who made a contract with their patron god to be the ancestor of many descendants as long as they kept their agreement.
11 God-is-good.
12 Famous-spear. By this time, however, the Anglo-Saxon peoples were no longer organised in a warrior-oriented caste system. Armies still existed, and could be summoned by the native warlords (called peers of the realm).
13 A flood-gate, frequently found in the landscape which the narrator describes.
jazzypom: (Default)
[personal profile] jazzypom
Disclaimer: This meta focuses on my thoughts of situations presented as someone who is an heir to (in the metaphorical sense, not the literal sense) of the post colonial legacy left behind by those of independence and various works (intellectual and otherwise) from the mid 1960s onward. Despite the sources quoted, this is pretty much my own reading of events, and I am aware that this is but a sliver of which is out there. I'm also only speaking of what I've known and studied (West Indian and segments of African history from 16th century to the mid 1990s), and I haven't wrestled with these issues in a long time. Damn you, again, fandom.

On underdeveloped societies, and the importance of nation language )

Thank you so much for inviting me here to post my meta. I am glad that it is of value
dhobikikutti: earthen diya (Default)
[personal profile] dhobikikutti
[personal profile] ephemere posted an essay titled No Country for Strangers that has some thoughts about colonialism and languages which I found very relevent to this community:
Background: I'm a Filipino living in the Philippines; I have lived here almost all my life, the exception being approximately two years of my early childhood that I spent in the U.S. We speak Filipino at home, but I write and do research and have academic discussions in English. I was taught to read and write in both English and Filipino, I consider myself more fluent in English than I am in my native tongue, and in my education both here and in the U.S. English-language literature has dominated my reading. For a long time I was content with this skew and was mostly unaware of its ramifications; I didn't think there was anything wrong with it, and my satisfaction in how many "world classics" of literature I'd read subsumed the slight shame I felt at not having read many works of Philippine literature, or not being able to read written Filipino without a great deal of concentration. Right now I'm still struggling with this disconnect between who I am and what I read. I'm grappling with the reality of how so much of my thinking -- even in economics, which is what I've been trained in -- has been shaped according to the perspectives of Western intellectuals whose views simply cannot be applied wholesale to the situation my country is in. And I'm coming to terms, slowly, with the amorphous nature of our national identity, the difficulties that stand in the way of its formation, and what this means to me as a majority sourcelander, an economist, and a reader. This isn't me speaking for all Filipinos. This is me speaking out of the conjunction of all these facets of my experience.

First things first: specific points, based on the aforementioned perspective. Charles Tan talks about the "small but growing awareness of the literature of other cultures" as a "liberty that occurred only because of humanity's continued struggle for 'enlightenment'". I find this exceedingly ironic when taken in light of the past history of the Philippines and of the present state of education in the country. I was very aware of the literary classics of other cultures when I was growing up, and I don't doubt this applies to many members of my generation who had access to the same educational resources I did. Most of my books as a child were simplified versions of books by authors such as Dumas, Stevenson, Alcott, Carroll, and others. In high school we were required to make ourselves familiar with Shakespeare, Hugo, Poe, Marlowe, Steinbeck, etc; our school's reading room was dominated by British, French, and American writers. We were supposed to know the figures of speech and the literary conventions used by these writers -- so where does "small but growing" come from? We, of the upper and middle classes, who had the means to access "superior" educational materials, were immersed in this from childhood. This is not an expression of unalloyed liberty to progress further toward 'enlightenment'. It is part of an educational system that was to a large extent instituted during the American occupation, whose so-called benevolent rule has not been fully extricated from either the public consciousness or our political decisions up to this very day. It is an outgrowth of a dominance that may have been thought to have eased when we were 'granted' our independence, but has in fact never disappeared, only become more subtle in its influence on our psyches.

I don't wish these influences, which shaped my knowledge of and love for literature, were completely gone from me. They've taught me many things; because of them I can engage with some people with the advantage of being informed by the literature of their country. But I want to recognize them for what they are; I want to be conscious of their effects, and capable of rejecting these effects. Yet the truth remains that these influences are often taken for granted by many Filipinos; we consider it perfectly natural that we know so much about U.S. pop culture, it's a default that we can pretend to talk like Americans or think like Americans -- act and live like them, and yes, write like them.

So please don't talk about this awareness of other cultures' literature as if it were new to us. It's not. The very fact that knowledge of American/British literature is considered a default among the educated class here is glaring proof of that.

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