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Translation and the Problem of Realism in Philippine Literature in English

J. Neil Garcia


To the degree that Philippine literature in English is translational it cannot berealistic: realism is a signifying practice that presupposes a monocultural ground,upon which the “consensus” of representational fidelity can happen. And yet, muchof the criticism of this literature, as produced by Filipinos themselves, has generallyfailed to take note of this crucial precondition, enacting a ruinous category mistakethat, among other things, unwittingly confounds contemporary departures fromthe referential towards the “avant-garde” and/or antimimetic modes, as these areespoused by young Filipino poets and fictionists alike. Finally, this paper arguesthat the various literary practices encoded in Philippine anglophone writing stillneed to be postcolonially specified, their translated or syncretic qualities criticallyrecognized and acknowledged, and that this kind of interpretive labor needs to bemade not only by locally engaged critics but also by Filipino writers who purport tochampion more theoretically informed and self-reflexive “performances” or texts.


anglophone; poetry; Filipino ; mimetic ;category mistake; avant-garde

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13185/1883