Intertextualizing Polyphemus: Politics and Ideology in Walcott's Odyssey
In this paper I provide a detailed analysis of Derek Walcott's appropriation of Homer's Odyssey 9, with particular emphasis on his use of time, space, and character. I argue that his treatment of these essentially performative elements lends the Cyclops episode a decidedly political flavor, as it helps him to expose and renounce ideological oppression. His Cyclops is not, as in the Homeric antecedent, a fictionalized, and to some extent irrelevant, barbarian, but the all-too-real enforcer of a totalitarian government, while his one-eyedness is a symbol of moral and aesthetic degradation. Resistance and liberation comes from Odysseus who emerges as the courageous and action-oriented embodiment of traits that lie dormant in the character of the Philosopher, a passive subject of Cyclops' rule. Walcott's rendering of the Homeric episode thus dramatizes postcolonial and broadly political concerns, thereby becoming a classic of our times.
"Intertextualizing Polyphemus: Politics and Ideology in Walcott's Odyssey,"
Comparative Drama: Vol. 40
, Article 1.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/compdr/vol40/iss1/1