‘Isn’t there a poem about this, Mr de Mille?’ : On Quotation, Camp and Colonial Distancing

There is something queer about quotation, and something creepy too. To quote is to deconstruct the alleged distinction between speech spoken by me ('my' speech) and speech spoken by someone else ('your' speech; or 'his', 'hers', 'theirs' or 'ours'). What becomes of the issues of ownership, that is, of possession and control (of the 'proper', encapsulated as it is in the notion of property), when an act of quotation occurs? Similarly, quotation questions the 'distinction' between using a word or phrase and mentioning it: it makes use of a segment of discourse by mentioning it; mentioning is the definition of the use to which quotation is put.

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Published 1 November 2008 in Volume 23 No. 4. Subjects: Australian Bicentenary (1988), Australian identity, Parody, Postcolonialism, Quotations, Sexuality & sexual identity.

Cite as: Chambers, Ross. ‘‘Isn’t there a poem about this, Mr de Mille?’ : On Quotation, Camp and Colonial Distancing.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 23, no. 4, 2008. https://doi.org/10.20314/als.c436fcece5.