Didactiques
Volume 2, Numéro 1, Pages 210-226

Orientalist Discourse In William Somerset Maugham’s Writings About The British Imperial Power In The Far East

Authors : Siber Mouloud .

Abstract

This paper seeks to examine William Somerset Maugham’s writings about the Far East as a sample of Britain’s Orientalist discourse. These writings express Britain’s imperial quest in the Malay Archipelago through two Orientalist methods. First, the writer associates knowledge about the natives with the imperial power. As a result of Maugham’s experience of the Malay Archipelago, his writings participate in what Edward Said calls in Orientalism the dialectic of power and knowledge, which considers knowledge of the natives as a prerequisite for the imperial domination. Second, he consolidates the English imperial power in Malaya through the articulation of this power within his texts and the ideological accompaniment to it. This is a second dimension of the Orientalist discourse which aspires to dominate the Orient by the Western imperial power. These two aspects of the Orientalist discourse as they are developed in Maugham’s fiction make his writings about the Far East part and parcel of the culture of imperialism.

Keywords

Imperial power, Orientalism, discourse, knowledge and power, Maugham, the Malay Archipelago