Autobiography and Independence: Self and Identity in North by Debra Kelly

By Debra Kelly

In Autobiography and Independence, Debra Kelly examines 4 entire Francophone North African writers—Mouland Feroan, Assia Djebar, Albert Memmi, and Abdelk?bir Khatibi—to remove darkness from the advanced dating of a writer's paintings to cultural and nationwide histories. The legacies of colonialism and the problems of nationalism run all through all 4 writers' works, but of their notable individuality, the 4 exhibit the ways that such heritages are refracted via a writer's own historical past. This e-book should be of curiosity to scholars of Francophone literature, colonialism, and African background and tradition. (10/10/2006)

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Additional resources for Autobiography and Independence: Self and Identity in North African Writing in French (Liverpool University Press - Contemporary French & Francophone Cultures)

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From the outset, therefore, the neologism has socio-political implications, reinforced by the fiercely republican sentiments held by all the Reclus brothers. But increasingly, since the revival of the term in the November 1962 issue of L’Esprit devoted to ‘Le français dans le monde’ (‘French in the world’), its descriptive, etymological sense has been superseded, not to say hi-jacked, by a political one. 89 More generally there is a political issue concerning the use of language in former colonised territories.

76 She also argues that there is in women’s autobiographical practice a resistance against the ‘individualistic concept of the autobiographical’ that challenges traditional definitions of autobiography, and that a feature of women’s Auto & Ind pages rev again 36 1/2/05 4:27 PM Page 36 Autobiography and Independence autobiography is collective identity and interdependent identification. Of particular interest for this study is the analogy that Friedman makes between Gusdorf’s description of a culture in which autobiography is impossible and what she calls the ‘marginalised cultures of women’, a type of culture without the elements Gusdorf considers to be the necessary preconditions for autobiography, a culture in which the individual does not oppose himself to all others; [in which] he does not feel himself to exist outside of others, and still less against others, but very much with others in an interdependent existence that asserts its rhythms everywhere in the community […in which] lives are so thoroughly entangled that each of them has its center everywhere and its circumference nowhere.

If its origins stretch back to the medieval maqamah (session), he argues, Auto & Ind pages rev again 22 1/2/05 4:27 PM Page 22 Autobiography and Independence why did it take nine centuries for a form with major modifications to appear? 39 Hafez’s own approach is to position the debate in the domains of the sociology of literature and of poststructuralist theory, positing the ‘concept of genesis with its sociocultural dimensions versus the old concept of origin, genealogy or mimesis’. 41 It is therefore essential to understand that the writers under discussion here, although born in North African countries, were all educated within the French school system and are therefore able to take as general literary and cultural reference points the French writers read during their childhood and adolescence, and indeed there are specific references in their work to a number of French writers, as will be seen.

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