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“Anti-imperial Translation”: Silko, Freud, and the Voicing of Disavowed Histories

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Published in Moore, David L. Leslie Marmon Silko. London: Bloomsbury. 2016
Abstract In a 1992 interview with Linda Niemann, Silko describes how she overcame a writing block by setting aside her manuscript of Almanac of the Dead in order to read Sigmund Freud. She begins by likening the writing process to psychoanalysis: “It's like do-it-yourself psychoanalysis. It's sort of dangerous to be a novelist. I really learned it with this one – you're working with language and all kinds of things can can escape with the words of a narrative.” Silko then moves abruptly from the issue of the generative power of language to evoke the figure of Freud: “ ... About two-thirds of the way through, I just finally had to stop and read Freud, and I read all eighteen volumes, one right after the other” (Arnold, ed. 2000, p. 109). In this essay, I explore the role of Freudian theories of language in Almanac of the Dead in connection with Silko's heteroglossic narrative style and, in particular, the role of the narrative voice as a means of translating an indigenous epistemology into the conventions of English-language literature. Central to my concerns is Freud's late work, especially Moses and Monotheism (1939), in which he develops the theory first proposed in Totem and Taboo (1913) that personal and social dysfunction originate in guilt inherited from a foundational historical act of violence. Freud argues that the transformation of this inherited historical guilt informs cultural ritual and figurative language, most intensely in the development of religious practices but also in patterns of social violence and compulsive neurotic behaviors. This essay asks how the cluster of issues explored by Freud has been used by Silko in Almanac of the Dead.
Keywords Leslie Marmon SilkoNative American LiteratureNarratologyFree indirect styleRecursive imagerySigmund FreudLanguageIndigenous epistemology
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ISBN: 9781472523662
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Book chapter (Author postprint) (164 Kb) - document accessible for UNIGE members only Limited access to UNIGE (until 2018-03-02)
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MADSEN, Deborah Lea. “Anti-imperial Translation”: Silko, Freud, and the Voicing of Disavowed Histories. In: Moore, David L. (Ed.). Leslie Marmon Silko. London : Bloomsbury, 2016. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:87485

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Deposited on : 2016-09-19

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