The Only Liberation Is Paternal Dominion: Discourse of the Other in Illywhacker and the Unusual Life of Tristan Smith

  •  Shahram R. Sistani    


Peter Carey is the prominent novelist of contemporary Australia. His novels delve into the country’s search for cultural subjectivity and nationalism. He uses his own style for interrogating dominant ideology which challenges people’s attempts for acquiring identity. This paper is aimed to give a psycho-social analysis of the concept of the other in Illywhacker (1985) and The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994). In the novels all the characters whether man or women are depicted as controlled by a phallocentric ideology. These characters in their quest for subjectivity create the other. To discuss the reasons I found Lacanian views about ideology very efficient. For the reason that Lacan assumed that unconscious is discourse of the other. In these novels characters’ attempts for achieving subjectivity are frustrated due to the ideology which is prevailed in the society. Open-endedness of these novels challenges the fictionality of history and the reality depicted therein. It seems that there is a similarity between Carey’s notions of imperialism and Lacan’s interpretation of the real. Carey always mixes fantasy with the real for bringing to the light some recesses of desire. This usage of fantasy brings him close to the writing of Jorge Louis Borges. The aim of this article is not to see if these fantasies are realistic or subverted but whether they can disclose something about desire and freedom. For Lacan, repression is the beginning of unconscious desire-a desire which manifests itself through the language of characters. In Illywhacker as long as Herbert tells stories and lies his business and life is secure. These fantasies of him are manifestations of the presence of the Other. Hence these novels can be considered as discourse of the Other and demonstration of desire.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.