The term 'English book' presented by Bhabha refers to a book written and originated from the west that is found in a colonial context. 'The English book'', to Bhabha, sets up a juxtaposition between the 'Englishness' of the book and the 'non-english' setting in which the book is found. A parallel and binary structure is then drawn between the civilized, pure world of England and the uncivilized, dark, unruly world of India, Africa and the Caribbean. According to Bhabha, after the discovery of the English book in a colonial setting, the prior archaic meaning of the English book is not intrinsic, its meaning is in fact its Englishness. In the colonial context, the English identity is not defined by Big Ben, instead it is defined by the non identity with the colonial setting.
The trope of the 'English book' is found, as Bhabha writes, in another piece of literature we focused on this semester, The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The scene in the novel when the main character Marlow stumbles across a book about seamanship (pg. 42-43). This is a perfect example of what Bhabha refers to as the 'English book'. The inner contents of the book are not what matters, but rather the physical state of the book matters most. The book allegorically represents civilization and gives Marlow a sense of belonging, an escape, a home and a distraction. The gap between the colonizer and the colonized is seen through the annotations that disrupt the authority the text has, ultimately this 'English book' represents white success for Marlow. # #