The Construction of the Other in Postcolonial Discourse: C. P. Cavafy’s “Waiting for the Barbarians” as an Example

Shadi Neimneh


This paper argues the construction of the other in literary discourses by analyzing C. P. Cavafy’s poem "Waiting for the Barbarians." Using textual analysis and postcolonial rhetoric, it shows that the other is a convenient myth created and maintained to justify the privileged existence of the self. Since one of the essential functions of postcolonial literature is to offer a counter discourse that undermines colonial and imperial master narratives, Cavafy’s poem, I argue, is itself a discursive means of resistance that exposes the falsity of the exclusive, binary foundations of western imperialism and, in the process, the mechanism through which colonialist ideologies function. Hence, the response to the negative construction/representation of the other in literature, which is itself a discourse, is another deconstructive discourse.


Postcolonialism; Literature; Cavafy; Construction; Discourse; Otherness; Poetry; "Waiting for the Barbarians"

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