The Island

Antingone Answering Back to Antigone: The Island as an Atypical Countertext College

The concept of ‘answering back’ is a loose one which describes texts responding to other texts. It is connected to the idea of “the empire...writ[ing] back to a centre” (Ashcroft et al, p6) which is typically associated with a post-colonial text replying to a text that symbolises the colonising society. Often this text is an established member of “the literary canon, [a member of] the body of British texts which...still acts as a touchstone of taste and value” (Ashcroft et al, p7) such as Jane Eyre which Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea answers back to. This reply is traditionally hostile and critical, it undermines the established tropes of the work because they represent “canonical assumptions about literary activity” (Ashcroft et al, p7) from a canon that in turn represents the colonial domination that this responding text wishes to resist. Such responding texts, can be referred to as “countertexts” (Raji, p149) since they counter the original and attempt to destructure it. The Island clearly answers back to Sophocles’ Antigone, what is not clear is why the play is atypical as a countertext. Furthermore, whether this atypicality is exclusive to The Island or exists in other responses to the original Antigone. Therefore, this...

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