Embodying an Other Relation to Language: A Geocritical Topopoetic Reading of Brian Friel’s Translations
My paper studies the entangled relationship between language and an embodied sense of place in the Irish dramatist Brian Friel’s play Translations (1980), which is set against the backdrop of British colonial linguistic hegemony. Within a postcolonial framework, my paper studies how Friel uses language as a decolonizing trope. I deploy literary scholar Sten Pultz Moslund’s topopoetic approach which brings forth humanplace relations by reconnecting language with a sensory relation to the world in order to study how language not only performs another (nonrepresentational) dimension of itself but also challenges the ‘suprasensory ego-logic of modernity’ (Moslund). By approaching spatiality as an embodied human-place relation, a topopoetic reading locates how the materiality of place presents itself in language to resist territorial ideologues and posits instead, an agency of space and embodied relation with the phenomenal world in language. Language’s “senseeffect” (Deleuze) embodies a relationality between the word and material world, thereby contesting the imperialistic use of language as a representational semantic tool for meaning-based signification. Translations in its colonial resistance offers a topopoetic reading since Friel inheres in the play a felt sense of platial locatedness and geographical affect which impacts (in affirmative and/or negating capacities) not only the locals and the transformed natives of Baile Beag but the colonizers as well. Hence, through the tropes of language, place, and embodiment, I study how the text’s aesthetic dimension (poeticaisthetic) offers an alternative decolonial strategy in relating to the word and the physical material world.
KEYWORDS: language, embodiment, geocritical, topopoetic, decolonial.