The Function of Titles in Some Postcolonial Literary Texts in English


  • Annalisa Pes



The article analyses the function of titles in a selection of colonial and postcolonial novels in English. By availing herself of the theoretical premises of Jerrold Levinson, John Fisher and S.J. Wilsmore, the author argues that the hermeneutical purpose of titling has in postcolonial literature both an aesthetic impact and a political connotation. In this light, the title becomes a vector of specific postcolonial issues inherent in the text, and denounced by it, by means of which the writer takes a specific position in relation to imperialist ideologies and dominant modes of representation. In such a context, the aesthetic value of the postcolonial text is in the political message it transmits, and the title indeed contributes to strengthen or to focalize the meaning and resonance of this message.

Some significant titles of works produced in different geographical contexts and historical periods (Heart of Darkness, A Passage to India, Things Fall Apart, My Place, Where We Once Belonged, Foe, The Lonely Londoners, The Emigrants, Brick Lane, N-W) are examined as representative of a typically postcolonial coincidence of poetic value/political message and they are considered in the light of different levinsonian categories like “undermining titles”, “reinforcing titles”, “focusing titles”, “allusive titles”.






Articles (general section) - British and Postcolonial literatures in English