This essay measures the extent to which gift-giving fails in an economy of reciprocity. Reading James Joyce’s story “A Mother” in terms of Derrida’s notion of the gift as “absolute loss,” I consider the implications of an economy of loss for Joyce’s notion of sacrifice. Thus, I argue that the absence of an economy of sacrifice integrating “absolute loss” engenders the zero-sum game at the heart of Dubliners. I depart from other readings of the short story in the context of an economy based on the ideal of balanced reciprocity, since these versions deny the pure gratuity of gift in its connotations of sacrifice and loss. While such theories form a good starting point for analyzing the “moral economy” of Dubliners, they tend to overlook the fact that the only means to counteract the paralysis resulting from reciprocity is through the suspension of the economy of exchange.
This article focuses on the rising hostility against immigrants / refugees and growing demand for hospitality, in both regional and transnational senses, in Caryl Phillips’s novel A Distant Shore, set in a local place in North England. I think that the author, in examining the parallel conditions of being a stranger in a village and an outsider to the nation, shows that the demands of hospitality are similarly urgent whether sought by nationals or foreigners though these are calibrated differently in terms of scales of belonging. My broader argument is that hospitality is an ethical practice of everyday life that requires continual renegotiation. Inspired by Levinasian ethics, I turn to Derrida’s and Rosello’s meditations on hospitality, which emphasise the metaphorical nature of the host-guest relationship and the tension it inscribes between the finiteness of politics and the infinity of ethics. By exploring the complex relationship between politics and ethics as this is made manifest in the literary representations of ordinary British citizens’ everyday practices, I suggest that this novel not only deals with the UK’s domestic tensions of multiculturalism and ethnic conflict, but also critically reflects on its bewildered (but hardly new) attitude toward the ongoing transnational integration of the new Europe in the postwar period.
In today’s global world, the urban/ rural opposition is increasingly becoming a more relevant marker of the acculturation of foreigners whose adoption of national values is reflected by the spaces they inhabit. As they bring with them traditions related to the healing and balancing forces of the earth, immigrants prompt a reconsideration of the urban/ rural dichotomy in the metropolitan spaces they come to inhabit. Rural landscape in American culture has a long tradition of acting as a source of an alternative symbolic imaginary, responsible for boosting people’s feelings of patriotic commitment that are crucial to national integration. Diasporic American fiction has increasingly combined this tradition with symbolic magic and natural elements brought over from the “other” cultural backgrounds their authors come from. This paper aims to study the socio-political negotiations in a few instances of cultural translation within the urban/ rural dialectic in Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni’s novels The Mistress of Spices and Queen of Dreams. I will suggest that Divakaruni’s female protagonists work their initial experience of dislocation into a discourse of nature and the earth free from boundaries, based on a rejection of urban alienation and the discovery of the reconciliatory potential of America’s nature.
The paper offers a comparative perspective on transmigrant cultural identities as illustrated in the works of two contemporary South Asian American and Romanian American authors, Jhumpa Lahiri and Aura Imbăruș. The comparison involves Gogol, a South Asian American character, and Aura, the author of the memoir Out of the Transylvania Night. Although Gogol is a fictional character and Aura is an actual transmigrant, their comparative assessment relies on the assumption that both narratives are inspired by the authors’ background of relocation. Despite their different cultural origins, both authors share thematic aspects related to the dynamics of cultural identity in the context of migration. This paper aims to provide a starting point for an enlarged framework of comparative analysis, in order to foreground intersections between different experiences of cultural negotiation in the context of displacement. Born and raised in America, Gogol is challenged by his cultural multiplicity and strives to suppress elements of his Indian identity. After years of rebelling against his parents’ norms, Gogol shifts to the Bengali model, when his father dies. Once he accepts the relevance of his cultural roots, Gogol is able to plunge into a dimension situated beyond his Bengali and American selves. His transcendent strategy is illustrated by his decision to plunge into a third space of redefinition, suggested by the Russian literature which is appreciated by Gogol’s father. Aura Imbăruș offers the example of a first generation Romanian transmigrant who undergoes voluntary relocation to the United States. Fascinated by the American world, Aura is eager to take over norms of material success and consumerism, overlooking the relevance of her cultural roots. When she undergoes a personal family crisis, Aura eventually reassesses the value of her Romanian background, aiming to reconcile her source culture with her Americanised self. In a manner similar to Gogol’s, Aura manages to integrate American norms of success, while forging enduring bonds with the Romanian American community in California.
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The present study focuses on the tales of Hungarian-Roma writer Magda Szécsi, which were studied using the content analysis method. This study constitutes part of a larger research project that aims to provide methodological guidance for the integration of Roma pupils in schools that use Hungarian as the language of instruction. The types of function of primary socialization and the types of intra- and extra-familial interaction are illustrated via examples in the study. The motifs of happiness, anxiety, anger and misery in the tales of Magda Szécsi’s two books, Madarak aranyhegedűn (Birds on the Golden Violin ) and Az aranyhalas lószem tükre (Mirror of the Horse Eye with the Gold Fish ), are analysed in light of the aforementioned aspects. I applied the research method of qualitative content analysis and explained the forms of happiness and unhappiness in the books. There are many examples in the tales under discussion of the conditions of happiness and the reasons for misery in Roma culture. The three components determining the characters’ happiness or unhappiness are faith in God, idolatry and Gypsy law.
Antonio R. Raigón Rodríguez and Ángela Mª Larrea Espinar
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