Subverting Literary Allusions in Eliot and Özdamar

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In his paper, "Subverting Literary Allusions in Eliot and Özdamar," Walter Rankin explores the opposing ways allusion can be used in the works of major and minority authors. While Eliot is a canonized author whose The Waste Land is characterized by allusions to Eastern and Western works supplemented with his own comprehensive endnotes, Özdamar is a Turkish-German author whose A Cleaning Woman's Career subjects Western literary and historical figures -- including Medea, Hamlet and Ophelia, Nathan the Wise, Julius Ceasar, an Hitler and Eva Braun -- to the interpretive powers of a Turkish cleaning woman working as a guest worker (Fremdarbeiterin) in Germany. In contrast to Eliot's literary and anthropological amalgam, Özdamar's text centers exclusively on characters so well-established and recognizable that their emergence is awarded no further explanation even as they are brought together through the ramblings of her beleaguered narrator. By employing this literary device, Özdamar and other minority authors can assume a position of discursive power on their own and in relation to canonical texts, bringing their works a heightened level of legitimacy and authority.


©2006 Purdue University

Text is freely available online.

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CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture

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Rankin, Walter. "Subverting Literary Allusions in Eliot and Özdamar." CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture 8.3 (2006).



Peer Reviewed