I translated this Bengali short story into English as much for the sake of
its villain, Senanayak, as for its title character, Draupadi (or Dopdi).
Because in Senanayak I find the closest approximation to the First-
World scholar in search of the Third World, I shall speak of him first.
On the level of the plot, Senanayak is the army officer who captures
and degrades Draupadi. I will not go so far as to suggest that, in practice,
the instruments of First-World life and investigation are complicit with
such captures and such a degradation.' The approximation I notice
relates to the author's careful presentation of Senanayak as a pluralist
aesthete. In theory, Senanayak can identify with the enemy. But pluralist
aesthetes of the First World are, willy-nilly, participants in the production
of an exploitative society. Hence in practice, Senanayak must destroy
the enemy, the menacing other. He follows the necessities and contingencies
of what he sees as his historical moment. There is a convenient
colloquial name for that as well: pragmatism. Thus his emotions at
Dopdi's capture are mixed: sorrow (theory) and joy (practice). Correspondingly,
we grieve for our Third-World sisters; we grieve and rejoice
that they must lose themselves and become as much like us as possible in
order to be "free"; we congratulate ourselves on our specialists' knowledge
of them. Indeed, like ours, Senanayak's project is interpretive: he
1. For elaborations upon such a suggestion, see Jean-Fran~oisL yotard, La Condition
post-moderne: Rappod sur b sauoir (Paris, 1979).
O 1981 by The Univenity of Chicago. 0093-189618110802-0009$01.00. All rights reserved.
382 Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak "Draupadi"
looks to decipher Draupadi's song. For both sides of the rift within
himself, he finds analogies in Western literature: Hochhuth's The Deputy,
David Morrell's First... [continues]
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