The Other Niece of Utopia: Fantasy

  • Chantal Zabus

Abstract

Judging by the recurrent prominence of Caliban in such titles as Gotlieb’s O Master Caliban!, Rachel Ingalls’s Mrs. Caliban, Russell Hoban’s Libretto about Caliban and Miranda, and Tad Williams’s Caliban’s Hour, one might be lured into thinking that these texts are Caliban-rather than Prospero-centered. Yet, upon closer scrutiny, it appears that even if these texts do voice a counter-discourse within the bounds of postmodernism, these voices are recuperated or ultimately controlled by Prospero-like forces. In other words, postmodern Prospero has conjured up these new Calibans in a perverted hauntology or the latter have perniciously turned into Prosperos. As a result, Calibans dream is a utopian fantasy engineered or deferred by a manipulative Prospero. Likewise, the authors’ pairing off of Caliban and Miranda, in an attempt to dismantle The Tempest’s original Miranda-Prospero and Caliban-Sycorax half-families, is ultimately killed off by Prospero’s master-narrative. In that respect, the fantasy novella Mrs. Caliban (1982), by American-born Rachel Ingalls, foregrounds Caliban and his “woman” but provides powerful reminders that Caliban is the product of Prospero’s sadistic science. Also, in its dialogue with American monster-movies and its re-inscription of the core love story within the North-South power structure, Mrs. Caliban quenches whatever feminist utopia it originally proffered.

Keywords

Burning Amid Beach Posit Dition 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 3.
    The phrase is from Teresa de Lauretis, Alice Doesn’t (Bloomington & Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1984), p. 58.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 4.
    Rachel Ingalls, Mrs. Caliban and Other Stories (1982) (London & Boston: Faber & Faber, 1993), p. 13. Hereafter page numbers are indicated in the text.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Tzvetan Todorov, The Fantastic (Cleveland, Ohio/London: The Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1973), p. 25; and Jackson, p. 32. Incidentally, the Uncanny is the English translation of Freud’s 1919 essay Das Unheimliche. Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    Andrew Tudor, Monsters and Mad Scientists. A Cultural History of the Horror Movie (Oxford: Blackwell, 1989), pp. 115–116.Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    In Brian Ash, ed., The Visual Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (New York: Harmony Books, 1977), p. 91. Illustration by van Dongen. The Amphibian Man (1928) is by the Russian Alexander Belyaev. Eric Frank Russell is better known for Sinister Barrier (1967); Men, Martians and Machines (1985); With a Strange Device (1989); Deep Space (1989); and Great Explosion (1996).Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    M. Bragg, “The Hulk’s Gal,” Punch 282:7368 (February 3, 1982), 201. The Vaughans also argue that Larry is a monster and “simultaneously a fetus; both are figments of the heroine’s starved libido” (Vaughan & Vaughan, p. 3).Google Scholar
  7. 14.
    Reuben Brower, “The Tempest,” in Leonard Fellows Dean, ed., Shakespeare: Modern Essays in Criticism (London: Oxford University Press, 1957), p. 466.Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    David Cowart, “Fantasy and Reality in Mrs. Caliban,” Critique, 30:2 (Winter 1989), 77–83, 83. See alsoGoogle Scholar
  9. Lee Upton, “Mourning Monsters: Deception and Transformation in Rachel Ingalls’ Fiction,” Critique: Studies in Contemporary Fiction 33:1 (Fall 1991), 53–61. Cowart’s reference is toGoogle Scholar
  10. Anne Sexton, Transformations (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1971), p. 94. For an analysis, see Caroline King Barnard Hall, Anne Sexton (Boston: Twayne, 1989), pp. 106–108.Google Scholar
  11. 20.
    William C. McCall, “A Note on Mrs. Caliban” in Notes on Contemporary Literature 18 (May 1988), 6.Google Scholar
  12. 21.
    Theo D’Haen, “The Tempest, Now and Twenty Years After,” in Constellation Caliban: Figurations of a Character, eds. Nadia Lie & Theo D’Haen (Amsterdam & Atlanta: Rodopi, 1997), p. 324.Google Scholar
  13. 22.
    Russell Hoban, “Some Episodes in the History of Miranda and Caliban: An Entertainment in Two Acts with Music by Helen Roe,” in The Moment under the Moment (1992) (London: Picador in collaboration with Jonathan Cape, 1993), p. 83. Hereafter page numbers are indicated in the text. The text can be compared to Robert Coover’s “Pricksongs and Descants”(1971), which, incidentally, also makes use of The Tempest. Coover uses the “descant,” i.e., “a form of music in which there is a cantus firmus, a basic line, and variations that the other voices play against.” In Richard Andersen, Robert Coover (Boston: Twayne, 1981), p. 83.Google Scholar
  14. 24.
    Tad Williams, Calibans Hour (London: Legend Books, 1994), p. 7. Hereafter page numbers are indicated in the text.Google Scholar
  15. 25.
    Katherine Collen King, “Go to Hell, Sycorax,” English Language Notes 27:4 (June 1990), 1–3, 1. See Stephen Orgel, ed. The Oxford Shakespeare: The Tempest, p. 19, note 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chantal Zabus 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chantal Zabus

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations