restricted access Bibliographie Kateb Yacine (review)
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Bibliographie Kateb Yacine, by Charles Bonn et la Coordination internationale des chercheurs sur les littératures maghrébines. Avant-propos de Naget Khadda. Paris: L'Harmattan, 1997. 184 pp. ISBN 2-7384-5180-2 paper.

It is rather more common in the field of literature to produce bibliographies around a theme, a period, or a literary genre. Charles Bonn has headed many such efforts that resulted in bibliographies that greatly facilitated the work of students as well as researchers. They also provided a convenient check against the duplication of studies on the same topic. Moreover, they allowed a greater communication among researchers in the broadening circle of interest that Maghribi literature is achieving in this last quarter of the twentieth century.

It is generally a prolific writer who creates the need, and induces the efforts of researchers to devote a whole bibliography book to a single author. Yet Kateb Yacine does not fall in this category of writers, since his literary production is rather modest. It is important, therefore, to seek the reason that motivated Charles Bonn and his research group to compile a bibliography devoted solely to this Algerian author. Yacine's importance, as every student of Maghribi literature knows, is based on the quality of his work rather than the quantity. It stems from the original and highly symbolic nature of his writings. In their efforts to uncover the significance of his allegories and metaphors, researchers produced an array of critical writings, disproportional to the size of the author's literary production. Kateb Yacine is, in fact, a unique author whose rather difficult and originally structured texts keep researchers on their toes. The explosive nature of his style attracted particular attention as well. It was as if the critics and the researchers reveled in the challenge for the interpretation of the diverse images and figures of speech in Kateb's writings.

Prefaced by Naget Khadda, Bibliographie Kateb Yacine is introduced by Charles Bonn, director of the reference bank that served as the base for this bibliography. Bonn has long been working on a computer-based reference project for Maghribi literature known as Limag. It is now a PC program on its way to be posted on the Internet. Bibliographie Kateb Yacine is divided into two major sections, the first listing Yacine's creative work, beginning with his books, followed by his short texts, in periodicals, collections, and [End Page 215] anthologies. Mentioned also are translations of his books as well as second editions. Listed among his writings are his interviews in the press and prefaces he wrote to other books. The second part of the Bibliographie deals with works of criticism on Yacine's writings. The references are organized according to the type of the critical work: dissertations, colloquiums, books, journal articles, and special issues of journals.

The publication of Bibliographie Kateb Yacine is an indication not only of the importance of the writer in the field of Maghribi literature, but also a proof of the interest that this whole literature has aroused in the English-speaking world as well as the new place it occupies, at present, in French literary and academic circles. It now stands on its own merit, as an independent literature, and no longer as an appendage of French literature. Yacine, who thirty years ago used to be cited in dictionaries and anthologies of French literature, has finally recovered his identity.

Searching for Maghribi writers used to be a real adventure and a courageous endeavor for researchers, as it required efforts similar in many ways to those of an archeologist. They consisted of a meticulous and tedious combing of the pages of dusty and voluminous newspapers and journals. From the Bibliothèque Nationale in Algiers to the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris, to the shelves of the Parisian and Algerian bookstores, researchers used to go on a real treasure hunt to locate the books of Maghribi writers.

For many of the early researchers, pioneers like Charles Bonn, the road from the tiny library of the Pères Blancs in Algiers where aspiring students consulted Jean Déjeux's collections of rare books, to the pages of the...