1964 aisha e la formazione transculturale
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“1964”: Aisha e la formazione ‘transculturale’. “1964” è il racconto che aprirebbe cronologicamente la raccolta. E’ autobiografico .

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1964 aisha e la formazione transculturale
“1964”: Aisha e la formazione ‘transculturale’

  • “1964” è il racconto che aprirebbe cronologicamente la raccolta. E’ autobiografico .

  • E’ un buon esempio di scrittura ‘trans-culturale’, poichè sottolinea l’importanza del viaggio (in questo caso da Est ad Ovest) come esperienza di trasformazione

  • Critica culturale verso ambo le parti (“Est” – “Ovest”) e apertura al cambiamento.

  • Un ‘bildungsroman’ in miniatura e al contrario: anziché terminare con l’inserimento nella società, sembra proporre proprio l’opposto – l’allontanamento da un’istituzione e da un mondo sentiti come estranei al sé ed anche dannosi per lo sviluppo culturale e personale

  • Autoconsapevolezza, ricerca della libertà all’interno dei limiti e delle circostanze di cui si dispone, scelta rischiosa ma ponderata.

  • Autobiografismo e “doppia apertura” (geografica e culturale): i genitori di Aisha sono intellettuali egiziani in viaggio verso l’Inghilterra per formazione post-accademica (si emancipano due volte).

  • Questa doppia apertura permette di ampliare le possibilità di ‘transculturazione: il viaggio da Est ad Ovest come occasione ditrasformazione e ‘doppia emancipazione’: dalla soffocante realtà egiziana (sia politica che familiare) e dall’egemonia dell’Impero coi suoi pregiudizi.

  • Critica all’Egitto postrivoluzionario

  • “We had come to England by boat. My father had come first. My mother had had trouble getting her exit visa. It was the new Socialist Era in Egypt and there had been a clampdown on foreign travel. Strings were pulled but a benign bureaucracy moves slowly and it was two months before we were allowed to board the Stratheden and make for England”

La culturale): i genitori di Aisha sono Stratheden come moderna slaveship

Itwas full ofdisappointedreturningwould-be [sedicenti] Australiansettlers and hopefulIndianwould-beimmigrants and beneathmymother’s surfacefriendlinesstherewas a palpable air ofsuperiority. WewereEgyptianacademics come to England on a sabbaticalto do Post-DoctoralResearch. I wasn’t post-doctoral, butitstillwasn’t quite the thingto play with the Indianteenagers [...]”

  • Doppia apertura ma doppia morale

    “I wassummonedintomyparents’ room, where the letterlay on the desk. Itwasaddressedto me and hadbeenopened. Itneveroccurredto me toquestionthat. [...]

    Myparentswere grave. Theyweredisapproving. Theyweresaddened. [...] ‘Youknowyou’re nottobe in touchwithhim?’ ‘Yes.’ Therewere no rows, just silent, saddisapproval. You’ve letus down. I neveransweredhisletter and heneverwroteagain – or ifhedid I everknewofit”

L altro da s e l altro come porta verso un apertura
L’Altro da sé, e l’Altro come porta verso un’apertura culturale): i genitori di Aisha sono

  • Christopher: l’altro, l’alieno per antonomasia: indiano, cristiano, immigrante.

  • “ In the same way as AhdafSoueif uses the Other's language to free herself of monologic discourse, so does she here hint at the possibility (more fully realized in her later fiction) of using the figure of the Other as a mediator against all forms of enclosure and containment, a means to gain access to a plural world.”

    (HechmiTrabelsi, TransculturalWriting: AhdafSoueif's Aishaas a Case Study, Université de Tunis, 2003)

Potential adventure within the set boundaries
‘Potential adventure’ – ‘within the set boundaries’

  • “I was not troubled by the loss of Christopher. Just by the loss of a potential adventure. Anything that happened to me in those days represented a ‘potential adventure’. Every visit to the launderette was brim-full with the possibility of someone ‘interesting’ noticing me. When I slipped and sprained an ankle, the projected visits to the physiotherapist seemed an avenue into adventure. But the old man massaging my foot and leering toothlessly up at me (‘what a pity you don’t slip more often’) was more an ogre than a prince and after one visit my ankle was left to heal on its own. The likelyhood of my actually arriving at an adventure was lessened by the eight-thirty p.m. curfew imposed by my parents (‘Even in England it’s not nice to be out later than that, dear’). But no path of rebellion was open to me so I waited for something to happen obligingly within the set boundaries”

La aliena a londra aisha
La ‘Aliena’, a Londra, è Aisha. boundaries’

“‘Friends.’ The Vicarsuddenlyspoke. ‘In our city todaywefindincreasingnumbersof people who come tousfrom far places: fromalienraces, alienbeliefs. [...] Shouldanyperson in thiscongregationwishto join withus in the love ofJesus Christ, letthemraisetheirhandsnowwhile the eyesofeveryone are closed in prayer and I willseekthem out later and guide theminto the love ofOur Lord [...]

I feltexcessivelyconsciousofmyalienappereance, and particularlymyalienhair, as I waitedtobesought and guidedinto the love ofJesus Christ”

“I was a misfit [disadattata]: I had the mannersoffledgling [alle prime armi] Westernisedbourgeoisintellectual and the soul (though no onesuspectedityetbut me) of a Rocker.”

  • Sguardo orientalista e desiderio di sottrarsi boundaries’

  • “‘ You can beexcusedfromAssembly on groundsofbeingMohammeddan,’ whispered the teacherwhohadbrought me there. No fear. I wanted nothing more thantomerge, toblend in silentlyand belongto the crowd [...] ‘It’s all right,’ I said. ‘I don’t mind.’

    Myattempts at fading into the masseswereunsuccessful. During the first break I wastakento Susan, the ThirdForm leader

    ‘Whereyoufrom?’ Shewas light and pale withfreckles and redhair.


    ‘That’s wheretheyhavethosePharaos and crocodiles and things,’sheexplainedto the others. ‘D’you go toschool on a camel?’


L in betweenness e la difficolt di sottrarsi di farsi sfondo
L’in-betweenness e la difficoltà di sottrarsi, di farsi sfondo

  • “School was a disaster. The white girls lived in a world of glamour and boyfriends to which I had no entrée. The black girls lived in a ghetto world of whispers and regarded me with suspicious dislike. I was too middle of the road for them [...]

    As for brilliance, I could not have chosen an unluckier subject to excel in: English. The class would have forgiven me outstanding performance in science or sports, but English? And Mrs Braithwaite [...] ‘The Egyptian gets it every time. It takes someone from Africa, a foreigner, to teach you about your native language. You should be ashamed.’”

Il 1964 tra pubblico e privato
Il 1964 tra pubblico e privato sfondo

  • Il 1964 è l’anno della rivoluzione di Aisha, che nel suo piccolo, e ‘within the set boundaries’, agisce nel privato quello che le ex-colonie dell’Impero Britannico stavano facendo nel pubblico. L’importanza della musica rock.

  • “So, here I was. Itwasearly ’64. The Beatles yelled ‘I wannaholdyourhand’ and shooktheir long, shinyblackhair and theirhips; the Mods and Rockerszoomedthrough the streets in theirfancygear; and I stood in the snow on the thirty-seven bus stop, on the outside, looking in”.

  • La musica come tentativo di attraversare confini

    “Musicwasmagicto me and everydayas I walked home from the bus stop I wouldpeerthrough the net curtains at the juke box gleamingagainst the wall in the corner café. Itwas a dark, different world in there [...]

    Oneday I pushed open the door. [...]

    I was happy. When the songswereover I walked out and went home. I nevertoldanyoneaboutmyadventure.”

Disvelamenti e illuminazioni
Disvelamenti e illuminazioni sfondo

  • St. Valentine’s Ball.

  • “It was eight ‘o clock as we walked into the hall. [...] All the girls were there. They were in party clothes and stood grouped together at one end of the hall. At the other end, huddled in tight, nonchalant groups in dark suits, were the boys from Wandsworth Comprehensive, our sister school.

    [...] They were all standing there, tapping their feet and hoping that the boys from Wandsworth would ask them to dance. And the boys were nervous, pretending they didn’t know what they were there for... [...] I knew now there was no hidden world, no secret society from which I was barred. There was just - nothing”

“Aisha! What’s the matter? Are you ill?’ she asked. sfondo

‘No,’ I said.

‘Well, what’s the matter? Why aren’t you at school?’

‘I’m not going to school any more.’


‘But why won’t you go to school?’

‘I don’t want to.’

‘But why?’

‘It’s just not worth it.’

‘But you liked it so much-’

‘I hated it.’

‘What on earth will your father say?’


Una pausa culturale: sfondotra ‘Est’ e ‘Ovest’, Aisha sceglie di prendersi cura della sua condizione di in-betweeness. E’ il primo passo verso il soggetto ‘transculturale’, attivamente ‘postcoloniale’, che sa abitare nel ‘fra’ senza perdersi; è semplicemente se stessa, con forza e determinazione.

[...] Everymorningmyparentswentto the University and mysister and brothertoschool. I woulddraw up myfather’s largearmchair in frontof the television, carry up some toast and butter, and watch the races. Or I wouldswitch on myPhonotrix and dream. Or read. The whole house wasmyterritoryfromnine in the morningtofive in the afternoon and I livedmy private life and wasimperviousto the cold, disapproving atmosphere thatpervaded the evenings. After a coupleofweekstheygave up.

Oneday I discovered a secret cache ofbookshidden in myparents’ bedroom. Fanny Hill, The Perfumed GardenofSheikhNefzawi and the Kama Sutra. Myrebellionhadpaid off in grand style. I spentmyfifteenthyear in a lotusdream,sunk in anarmchair, throbbingto the beat of the Stones, reading erotica. And I passedmyexam.”

Sandpiper mandy
Sandpiper sfondo – “Mandy”

Spiazzamento, ibridità narrativa, plurivocalità.

Doppia narrazione, doppio punto di vista degli eventi – lettere di Asya alla madre (dialogicità, relazionalità del sé nella rilessività, interrogazione sul mondo) vs. diario di Mandy (relazionalità differente, senza un referente umano diretto. Autoreferenzialità, distacco, riflessività).

Asya, doppio significato, ‘antitetico’ - ‘the CruelOne’, ‘shewhois full ofsorrow’ (parole di Mandy)

Mandy, forse da ‘mundane’, in opposizione ad Asya (spirituale, riservata, etc.). Descrizioni orientaliste?

Displacement sfondo

  • “ this trip has put off my accomodation problem for a bit – but I think Gerald and I are beyond working things out (did you know all along?) and I’m going to try and find a place of my own as soon as I get back to London – although there’s something quite bracing about having all my possessions in the car and being ‘of no fixed address’” (Asya)

  • “It really is strange how poems work. On an Amsterdam boat-train I remember Central Park and I start a poem A month later, I add in something from today and – wow! It’s there.” (Mandy)

  • Asya – Asia, nome del continente asiatico per una donna africana in Europa (significato dato da una donna Americana, Mandy). Transculturazione.

Doppio sguardo orientalista da asya a mandy e viceversa sempre nel giudizio nella visione duale
Doppio sguardo ‘orientalista’: da Asya a Mandy, e viceversa. Sempre nel ‘giudizio’, nella visione duale.

“Saif has got himself a lean-looking one too. Female, of course. And American. Yes. I’m afraid the days of the Lady Caroline of the tiger shooting, coolie-whipping father are over...

She was dressed up like a Linchfield ad. A Country Casual outfit that he’d wanted me to buy back in 1975 .... She looked terribly lost inside all that. It didn’t suit her at all. Anyone could see he had only just bought it for her. Her name is Mandy. She’s the small-boned wiry NY type. Arty-looking with frizzed-out brown hair....”

“He’s terribly chic and he is in he is in a bearded phase. He looks like a gentleman sea-captain [...] and they, in their Bond Street outfit, looked like posh relatives come to give a poor student a treat [...]

... Like a mother I thought, she is not good enough for him, which she isn’t. She isn’t pretty enough and she doesn’t have that unawavering serenity which he needs ... I think she’s edgy and restless and won’t be happy with him and won’t make him happy. I also fear there must be some gold-digging element there because she’s so obviously on the make and he looks prosperous.””

Mandy su asya chattel cattle
Mandy su Asya: chattel / cattle viceversa. Sempre nel ‘giudizio’, nella visione duale

  • “Shemetus at the station and shewas so friendly I couldhavethrown up. Easterninscrutableness, I guess. [...] I thinkshe’s olderthan me but I couldnotguess at her precise age: I never can withEastern people”

  • “Allthis shopping suits me fine. He’s alwaysbought me somethingtoo. Like the outfit I waswearingthismorning. I was right to wear itbecauseit’s called a ‘Lady’s TravellingOutfit’, and that’s what I wasdoing – travelling [...] Hedoesn’t mind spendinghismoney on me. Hedoesitlikeitwas the mostnaturalthing in the world. Maybethat’s Easterntoo: women beingchattels and allthat. (Does the word ‘chattel’ haveanythingto do withcattle? Maybebecause the possessionsofnomadicpeopleswouldprobablybelivestock.)

  • Sguardi a confronto viceversa. Sempre nel ‘giudizio’, nella visione duale

  • “...seeinghimwithhertodaywasreallysomething: hewaslike some kidshowing off. Showing off tohismom. And playingher up ... And sheall serene and beautiful – takingit all. It’s sickifyouask me.” (Mandy)

  • “’So,’ shesays out loud ‘she can say “ass”. Well big deal Anyone can say ‘ass’. I can sayit.(“Asya)








    Lo sguardo di Mandy sul mondo non si posa su esseri viventi o cose, ma, è il riflesso dell’inconsistenza del mondo e il segno della inevitabile autoreferenzialità umana. Distacco, saggezza o anaffettività? Dipende...dai punti di vista.

Incomprensione culturale viceversa. Sempre nel ‘giudizio’, nella visione duale, quasi uno ‘scontro’ di civiltà, mediato dall’apertura del femminile verso il femminile (“I don’t blameher”), dalla ‘sopportazione’ e dall’amore verso Saif.

  • Forse Asya e Mandy evocano due dei molteplici aspetti di una sola persona, magari l’autrice, o comunque un soggetto consapevole?

  • Forse mostrare pregi e difetti di entrambe le visioni serve a disindentificarsi dall’una e dall’altra? o per suggerire una maggiore comprensione e tolleranza della differenza culturale ed individuale al di là di facili identificazioni di genere?

Ulteriori intrecci narrativi
Ulteriori intrecci narrativi viceversa. Sempre nel ‘giudizio’, nella visione duale

  • “Mandy” si intreccia con “Satan”, la storia che segue nella raccolta.

  • Qui, un’Asya più matura deve mediare la propria autonomia di donna e la propria maturità con le radici familiari allargate.

  • Volontà di uscire dal pregiudizio, dall’identità fissa ed immutabile di donna musulmana sposata. Desiderio di crescere ed essere una persona più completa, senza meschinità

Incomprensioni familiari e culturali
Incomprensioni familiari e culturali viceversa. Sempre nel ‘giudizio’, nella visione duale

  • Tante Adila è la suocera di Asya, madre di Saif. E’ in visita ‘di riparazione’ – vuole salvare il matrimonio di Asya e Saif. Crede che Saif abbia lasciato Asya per un’altra.

    “’I don’t understand anything. Are you both joking or what? ... So my son is crazy, he’s got an harmoured head [...] I know that but I also know he coud never do without you. Yes, I know there’s a woman: some low creature has pulled him for two or three weeks [...] I’m furious with him’”

  • Asya: “ ‘I mean that I love him very very much but that over the last few years we’ve grown apart and I don’t think we love each other in the way married people should. One loves people in different ways’” (a Mira)

  • Tante viceversa. Sempre nel ‘giudizio’, nella visione dualeAdila non accetta la realtà, nemmeno la vede. Distoglie o sguardo per fronteggiare un mondo che non sa comprendere.

  • “WhyisAsyadefendinghim? Likethis, she, Adila, findsherselfattackingSaif more and more; asthough the mattergnawed at hismother’s heart more than at hiswife’s. Shelooks at Asyawhotriestomanage a small smile. Shehaschanged. In the fiveyearssincethey last met, shehaschanged [...] The blackhairkeeping more ofitswavethanithadneverbeenallowed in Cairo, the skinpaler, the face newlydefined, asthoughithadbeensculptured out ofitsoldchildishroundness. Butaboveallthe detachment, the holding back, tobeseen in the eyes and in every stance ofthatslim body. Oh, child, child, whateverhashappenedtoyou? AdilaHanimturnsaway.”

  • Lo straniamento dalla propria cultura viceversa. Sempre nel ‘giudizio’, nella visione duale intesa come monolite, come insieme i tradizioni rigide o non-questionabili da prendere per intero, è incarnato nel corpo di Asya, che porta i segni della maturazione, di una nuova, negoziata appartenenza ‘in-between’, tra la sua famiglia e le abitudini più liberali della comunità anglosassone di cui fa parte.

  • Asya è una persona libera, che si muove fra culture senza mai appartenere del tutto all’una o all’altra, ma declinandole secondo la propria sensibilità. .

  • Ancora la stereotipizzazione dei ruoli di genere e familiari: Mira, Hussein, la madre di Mira.

  • E’ possibile l’amore fra due persone e il rispetto per se stessi in una chiusura culturale che può paralizzare la spontaneità? Asya, e Soueif, sembrano chiedere questo

  • Quanto vale la pena sopportare e quanto bisogna imparare a lasciar andare, anche soffrendo, per dare spazio alla vita?

Satan un gattino
Satan – un gattino familiari: Mira, Hussein, la madre di Mira.

  • Satan è il gattino che Clara, la nuova fiamma di Saif, ha portato in casa. Spettatore silenzioso del piccolo dramma familiare.

  • “’Hi’, she says. ‘Look. It’s wrong to leave that kitten there. Tante doesn’t like him and Hussein is treating him badly.’ [...] ‘He threw him across the room just now and practilly broke his back. I don’t think you should leave him there.’ [...] The tears spill from her eyes and Asya turns away. She’ll take the kitten. She’ll go back and pick him up and take him away. It isn’t right to leave Satan with these people. It simply isn’t right.”

  • Perché Satan dà il nome al racconto? Perché l’unico essere a non parlare né testimoniare gli eventi diventa il fulcro della storia?

  • Sembra evocare il silenzio degli inermi, la violenza che si consuma gratuitamente su chi non può reagire. A partire dalla quale si può e si deve scrivere e andare verso il futuro.

  • Satan è un cucciolo, ancora: simbolo di una nuova vita? Di una creatura che deve crescere?