Albert Memmi and the Production of Theory
Publication Year: 2013
The work of Tunisian Jewish intellectual Albert Memmi, like that of many francophone Maghrebian writers, is often read as thinly veiled autobiography. Questioning the prevailing body of criticism, which continues this interpretation of most fiction produced by francophone North African writers, Lia Nicole Brozgal shows how such interpretations of Memmi’s texts obscure their not inconsiderable theoretical possibilities.
Calling attention to the ambiguous status of autobiographical discursive and textual elements in Memmi’s work, Brozgal shifts the focus from the author to theoretical questions. Against Autobiography places Memmi’s writing and thought in dialogue with several major critical shifts in the late twentieth-century literary and cultural landscape. These shifts include the crisis of the authorial subject; the interrogation of the form of the novel; the resistance to the hegemony of vision; and the critique of colonialism. Showing how Memmi’s novels and essays produce theories that resonate both within and beyond their original contexts, Brozgal argues for allowing works of francophone Maghrebi literature to be read as complex literary objects, that is, not simply as ethnographic curios but as generating elements of literary theory on their own terms.
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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Title Page, Copyright
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The “eureka” moment of this book may be traced to a snow day in Cambridge, Massachusetts, circa 2001. The nor’easter that para-lyzed the city and forced the cancellation of that day’s graduate seminar had the fortuitous consequence of affording me precious extra hours to finish reading La Statue de sel. At the end of that ...
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To some, no sooner had francophone literature won its place in the seminar rooms of university French departments than the idea of a single, monolithic vision of a literature written in French by former colonial subjects was called into question and francophonie, as a literary category, found itself parceled out into regional subfields ...
1 Of Authors and Archives
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I have scarcely finished filing things before the filing system Together with the rise of high theory in the 1960s and the femi-nist “revolutions” of the 1970s, the emergence and recognition of francophone literatures has been hailed as one of the most impor-tant changes witnessed by the field of French studies in the past ...
2 Writing Back to Whom?
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I; only the devil eats alone; only the devil sleeps alone.” . . . I’ve said I’m not a truthful soul but nor do I tell lies, which Although his writing has alternated, continually and contrapuntal-ly, between works of fiction and theoretical essays, Memmi made his debut on the international literary scene in 1953 with the publi-...
3 Writing without Seeing
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Denis Diderot, “Lettre à Sophie Volland du 10 juin 1759” (1930)I’ll let you count all the words through which it is suggested Alexandre Mordekhaï Benillouche to Marcel, ophthalmologist and narrator of The Scorpion, who despite his chosen profession is un-able to save his brother’s failing sight, the heroes of Memmi’s nov-...
4 From Colonizer and Colonized toDecolonization and the Decolonized
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Published in 1957, during an era of intense anticolonial activity, Albert Memmi’s seminal book-length essay The Colonizer and the Colonized aspires to describe a universal condition while remain-ing firmly grounded in a particular situation. From its original context of North African colonization and decolonization, it has ...
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To the litany of putative philosophical deaths—of God, man, and of francophonie. The call to unseat this construct, which Albert Jourdain wrote prose,” came in the form of “Toward a ‘World- Literature’ in French,” a manifesto published in Le Monde des livres in March 2007 and signed by forty-four writers.1 Rather than per-...
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Page Count: 264
Publication Year: 2013