Jean Rhys’s Tropographies: Unmappable Identity and the Tropical Landscape in Wide Sargasso Sea and Selected Short Fiction
AbstractThis essay seeks to trouble the traditional understanding of Jean Rhys’s ‘homelessness’ through a re-examination of the way in which the uncertain identities of her fiction are tied to their geographical settings. This works towards a reading of Rhys’s narratives as ‘literature of the tropics,’ describing not only the landscape within which and from which so many of them operate, but a literature of the unrecognised, the unmapped. In this essay I seek to complicate traditional readings of Rhys’s work that reassert her liminality and sense of unbelonging to propose that it is, paradoxically, the affinity of her work with the unassimilable tropics that produces this ‘outsider status.’
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