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Interdisciplinary MeasuresLiterature and the Future of Postcolonial Studies$
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Graham Huggan

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9781846311093

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.5949/UPO9781846313332

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Philomela's Retold Story: Silence, Music and the Postcolonial Text

Philomela's Retold Story: Silence, Music and the Postcolonial Text

(p.155) Chapter 9 Philomela's Retold Story: Silence, Music and the Postcolonial Text
Interdisciplinary Measures
Liverpool University Press

This chapter studies one of the best-known Attic legends, the retold story of Philomela, and how it has been used as a paradigm for the retelling of colonial encounters in the works of several contemporary postcolonial writers. The Philomela legend allowed these writers to transform imaginatively their past by giving them an alternative framework with which to express their otherwise censored history. Doubly important is the conversion in the legend of silence into song since this represents alternative, non-verbal codes that subvert or replace narratives of colonial encounter and, ironically, also shows how silence and music can become instruments of colonial domination. This chapter also focuses on postcolonial texts in which silence is converted into music in a regenerative process that transmutes history into an alternative pattern that allows it to be seen in terms other than those of repeated dispossession or defeat.

Keywords:   Philomela, Attic legends, colonial encounters, colonial domination, contemporary postcolonial writers, postcolonial texts, silence, music

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