In the book H.C. for Life, That Is to Say . . . , Jacques Derrida implores us to “imagine a reading at the bottom of the elemental sea” (29). Following on from Derrida, this essay shows how such a reading might be possible through an analysis of Brian Castro’s novel Shanghai Dancing. To a large extent, the current critical literature on Castro’s novel highlights how it resists traditional reading methods and practices but fails to think through how this impacts the way the critic should write about the novel. To do this, I argue that Castro’s tropes and metaphors for writing—dancing, doppelgängers, phantom brothers, ghosts, the sea, typhoons, and flowers—are also metaphors and tropes for reading, which in turn demand a figurative response from the critic. The novel demands to be read as if from the bottom of the sea, which emphasizes Harold Bloom’s idea that “every good reader properly desires to drown” (Anxiety of Influence, 29).
"Reading Brian Castro's Shanghai Dancing at the Bottom of the Sea,"
Antipodes: Vol. 34:
1, Article 9.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.wayne.edu/antipodes/vol34/iss1/9