Postcolonial Recycling of the Oriental Vampire: Habiby’s Saraya, The Ghoul’s Daughter and Mukherjee’s Jasmine

Document Type: Original Article

Author

Ain Shams University, Egypt

Abstract

Postcolonial texts seek to rewrite the mythical narratives of vampires to problematize the power relations between the colonizer and the colonized. The vampire tradition is inscribed and recycled according to the collective Oriental heritage to articulate the untold stories of the muffled Eastern subject. Drawing on the mythical narratives of the ghoul (ogre) in classical Arabic culture and old Arabic folktales and of Lord Shiva in the Hindu myth, this paper compares the rewritings of the vampire topoi of otherness, unspeakableness, foreignness, and border existences in both Emile Habiby's Saraya, The Ghoul's Daughter (1991) and Bharati Mukherjee's Jasmine (1989). The metamorphosis of Saraya into a laughing muse and Jasmine into a potent goddess can be taken to represent the liminal state of Dracula between life and death on the one hand and the convergence of cultures on the other hand. Where these two works differ principally is in the geographic location of this site of cultural interaction. Whereas Habiby (1922 – 1996), the Palestinian writer, traces the predicament of Arabs in Israel and the Palestinian diaspora, Mukherjee (1940-), the Indian American writer, writes of the potential synthesis of Indian and American culture in the context of globalization.

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