A Poetic Journey: 'The Emperor's Babe' in Search of Identity in Virtual Places of Ancient Londinium
Seminar paper from the year 2010 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2, University of Innsbruck (Anglistik), course: British and/or Postcolonial Literature: The Urban and the Rural in (Black) British Literature, language: English, abstract: Bernardine Evaristo's novel The Emperor's Babe is about the Sudanese girl Zuleika, who gets married at the age of eleven to a much older man in the Londinium of 211 AD. Zuleika gives us an insight in her everyday life and introduces the partly authentic, partly virtual Londinium with all its fascinating and unique inhabitants like her best friends Alba and Venus. The question of identity is a recurrent theme in the novel and always seems to hang like a shadow over Zuleika. Though she is born in Londinium, she is black and her parents tell her about Sudan, and she feels that she does not really belong to either of the countries. She also feels imprisoned in her marriage, and one day she starts writing poems, which help her to create some kind of 'virtual place' of her own. There does not seem to be a place she really feels home, at most when she is together with her two best friends. With their long conversations they also create some personal place of their own, where they all can retire a bit from the outside world. Apart from that, there is also Zuleika's affair with Septimius Severus, the Emperor, which gives her a feeling of safety and affiliation, but in the long run leads her into perdition. This paper is trying to point out the social spaces and places in Zuleika's world, and to describe her and her surroundings in the fictitious London/Londinium of ancient times.
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