oa Alternation - Island Encounters: Intercultural Communication in the Western Literary Tradition

Volume 9, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1023-1757



According to postcolonial theory, the stereotype of intercultural communication between Western and 'Other' cultures since the voyages of discovery bas been a colonial encounter. Although some postcolonial critics (for example Brantlinger 1988: 173; Smith 1985:317t) distinguish between later nineteenth-century contact and earlier exchanges, the tendency is to generalise. Robinson Crusoe's interaction with Friday and Prospero's with Caliban, which surely predate the period of high imperialism, are widely regarded as archetypes of the colonial relationship (Mannoni 1956:passim; Fanon 1986:36,107; Baker 1985:389; Cartelli 1987: 101). These characters' encounter is not of course a meeting of equals but the preface to a master-servant relationship. The scenario is an island and the protagonists strangers, one of whom is indigenous and the other a visitor from a distant land. The visitor takes command because he possesses magic or an apparently 'natural' superiority and, although he rules the island and his 'subject' for a time, his real aim is to return 'home' whence he came.

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