Postcolonial writers like Salman Rushdie often write back to the “empire” by appropriating myth and allegory. In The Ground beneath Her Feet, Rushdie rewrites the mythological story of Orpheus and Eurydice, using katabasis (the trope of the descent into Hell) to comment both on the situation of the postcolonial writer from a personal perspective and to attempt a redefinition of postcolonial migrant identity-formation. Hell has a symbolic function, pointing both to the external context of globalization and migration (which results in the characters’ disorientation) and to an interior space which can be interpreted either as a source of unrepressed energies and creativity (in a Romantic vein) or as the space of the abject (in the manner of Julia Kristeva). The article sets out to investigate the complex ways in which the Orphic myth and katabasis are employed to shed light on the psychology of the creative artist and on the reconfiguration of identity that becomes the task of the postcolonial migrant subject. The journey into the underworld functions simultaneously as an allegory of artistic creation and identity reconstruction.
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