Other Spaces of the Empire: A Colonial Hotel in J.G. Farrell’s Troubles

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Focusing on the hotel imagery and, more precisely, the hotel Majestic featured in J.G. Farrell’s 1970 novel Troubles, this article provides a spatial contextualization of the historical downfall of the British Empire. In an attempt to establish the concept of the “colonial hotel”, this particular type of hotel is theorized as a fictional means of questioning the sustainability of the imperial project of colonialism. The theoretical framework for considerations of the Majestic in Troubles as a representative of the “colonial hotel” concept is based on Foucault’s heterotopology, as well as on the concepts of liminality and dislocation taken from postcolonial studies. Reading Troubles as an allegory of the Troubles in Ireland and, more broadly, a symptom of the disintegration of the British Empire, the article shows that the hotel, modelled after the historical concept of the Anglo-Irish big house, provides a proper setting where the deconstruction of the binary oppositions of colonial discourse can be played out. While the Majestic represents a mirror-image of the imperial centre, or rather a dislocated centre, its destruction is brought about by its tendency towards constancy and perpetuation of the illusion of grandeur. Similarly, the British Empire refuses to acknowledge the socio-political and historical changes of the early twentieth century and denies the existence of interstitial spaces between its firmly defined structures, whereby it inevitably meets its end.

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