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Book Reviews Richard Serrano. Against the Postcolonial: "Francophone " Writers at the Ends of French Empire. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005. Pp. 181. $60.00 cloth. The latest in the welcome new series on Francophone Studies from Lexington, this book proposes to read five francophone writers as challenges to the reductive and imperialist proclivities of postcolonial theory. Shunning me notion of any single paradigm that could address all French writing from outside the hexagon, Serrano advocates instead historically and linguistically informed readings that preserve the specificity of each writer's political and cultural moment. In the first and best of these chapters, Serrano considers me fascinating debate over Malian Yambo Ouologuem's novel Le Devoir de violence and me accusations of plagiarism that followed its publication in 1968. He deftly exposes the either/or politics that characterized the shift from the novel's initial critical reception as "the first authentic African novel ever written" (11-12) to the later outrage over borrowings from Graham Greene, André Schwarz-Bart, and Guy de Maupassant , arguing that it is this very inauthenticity, this incorporation of a non-African canon, that confirms the novel's 'authenticity' as a postmodern West African text. In his second chapter, Serrano argues mat die works of Malagasy poet Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo reveal a sustained if unpostcolonial engagement with the French poetic tradition, an engagement that was for me most part overshadowed by Rabearivelo's public image as a hero to Malagasy nationalism. Similarly, in the following chapter Serrano unpacks me facile postcolonial readings to which North African poet Jean Amrouche (1906-1962) and his work have been subjected in recent years, exposing bom inaccurate claims of authenticity and Amrouche's own ambivalence about die often glorified state of cultural hybridity. The book's fourth chapter takes up mis critique through a discussion of métissage as an overly vaunted product of postcolonial theory, positing as a counter-example the understudied métisse Cambodian writer Makhali-Phal, whose poetry and fiction from the 1930s to the 1960s suggest both a dialogue with French colonial writing on Cambodia and a precociously fatalistic view of métissage. Serrano's aim in the final chapter is to rescue Guyanan poet Léon-Gontron Damas from the overdeterminism of not only current postcolonial critics but also his contemporary Leopold Sédar Senghor, who insisted on reading him as black, Bohemian, and authentically African, thus sidestepping his mixed-race Guyanan origins, his European education , and, most significantly in Serrano's view, his place in the range of collaborative activity in World War II Paris. Critiques of postcolonial meory are not in short supply, but Serrano's approach is a useful one in that it brings Ulis discussion into me field of Francophone Studies to point out how an anglophone import may fail to leave room for the specific narratives of colonialism experienced by many francophone writers. While the book's close textual readings are not always jn clear support of this argument, on the whole Serrano offers carefully researched, thoughtful analyses and a valuable antidote to reductive critical practice. Dawn Fulton Smith College Arden Reed. Manet, Flaubert, and the Emergence of Modernism: Blurring Genre Boundaries. (Cambridge Studies in New Art History and Criticism). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. Pp. 347; 85 illustrations, 10 color plates. At heart, mis book is a superbly executed 'mick description' of Manet's controversial salon painting Jeune dame en 1866, a work presented widi palpable affection by Reed as key to die aesthetic debates of late nineteenm-century France. In a central section, Reed links each of the paint90 Winter 2005 Book Reviews ing's details to larger cultural discourses: me pink folds of me jeune dame's dress mark the end of fashion's "crinolinomania," her bouquet evokes political Bonapartism, me half-peeled citron calls on sensualist philosophy, and me parrot emerges as an over-determined and unstable sign combining bourgeois conformity with colonial exoticism, religious ecstasy with erotic audacity, and aesthetic provocation with linguistic mimicry. Even die dangling monocle is given its own clever and Lacan-inflected chapter, which reads the masculine eye-piece as an allegory of beholding. The eclectic cultural studies approach works here because...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 90-91
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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