When Caliban Writes Back: Alameddine’s Appropriation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest
The purpose of this paper is to investigate how Arab-American novelist Rabih Alameddine appropriates Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) in his recent novel The Angel of History (2016) in order to comment on the Bard’s representation of Caliban’s mother, Sycorax, and to show how Arabs and Muslims are misrepresented in US popular culture in the post-9/11 era. More specifically, in Alameddine’s novel, the protagonist, Jacob, is referred to at one point in the novel as Caliban due to his dark skin colour when compared to his white American friends. In addition, just as Prospero accuses Caliban of being the devil’s son, in Alameddine’s novel, Jacob is a bastard who enjoys a unique relationship with Satan, who, in many ways, acts as Jacob’s father / guardian. Moreover, both Caliban and Jacob learn a new language that enables each of them to tell his stories and histories. Alameddine’s protagonist employs English language to narrate his mother’s story, a story that Shakespeare’s play suppresses. Furthermore, Jacob writes two surrealist stories that expose American and European imperialist projects in the Middle East and highlight capitalist and consumerist trends in the US and Europe to commodify and commercially exploit ethnic and racial differences.
Keywords - Alameddine, Arab American, Shakespeare, Adaptations, Appropriations