From Francophonie to World Literature in French
Ethics, Poetics, and Politics
Publication Year: 2013
In 2007 the French newspaper Le Monde published a manifesto titled “Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French,” signed by forty-four writers, many from France’s former colonies. Proclaiming that the francophone label encompassed people who had little in common besides the fact that they all spoke French, the manifesto’s proponents, the so-called francophone writers themselves, sought to energize a battle cry against the discriminatory effects and prescriptive claims of francophonie.
In one of the first books to study the movement away from the term “francophone” to “world literature in French,” Thérèse Migraine-George engages a literary analysis of contemporary works in exploring the tensions and theoretical debates surrounding world literature in French. She focuses on works by a diverse group of contemporary French-speaking writers who straddle continents—Nina Bouraoui, Hélène Cixous, Maryse Condé, Marie NDiaye, Tierno Monénembo, and Lyonel Trouillot. What these writers have in common beyond their use of French is their resistance to the centralizing power of a language, their rejection of exclusive definitions, and their claim for creative autonomy.
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
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...I would like to thank the Charles Phelps Taft Memorial Fund and Research Center at the University of Cincinnati for the various grants and fellowships that allowed me to complete this project. At the University of Nebraska Press I am grateful to Kristen Elias Rowley and Joeth Zucco for their commitment to my book project and consistent editorial support, and I wish to thank Bojana Ristich also for her...
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...titled “Pour une ‘littérature-monde’ en français” (“Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French”) and signed by forty-four writers from various parts of the French-speaking world, including France, triggered a wealth of international conferences, newspaper articles, and scholarly publications enthusiastically embracing or sternly disputing these writers’ proclamation of the “end” of Francophonie and the concomitant “birth” of littérature-monde en français...
1. Writing as Mimicry
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...In a 1987 interview Monénembo says that the Guinean youth who grew up in a country controlled by President Ahmed Sékou Touré’s repressive ideology suffered from too much Manichaeism and needed “ambiguity” and “doubt”; as Monénembo also puts it, “There is nothing better than seeing oneself through the other’s gaze, even when this gaze is subjective, hateful”...
2. Writing as Desire
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...Born in France to an Algerian father and a French mother, Bouraoui spent most of her childhood in Algeria. Born in Algeria to a French father and a German mother, Cixous experienced the anti-Semitism directed at Jews in Algeria before leaving for France at age eighteen. Bouraoui’s and Cixous’s longing to belong in Algeria, on the one hand, and deep feelings of alienation, on the other hand, are...
3. Writing as Otherness
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...Marie NDiaye was widely hailed by the international media as the first black woman to receive the most prestigious French literary award. Although she is the daughter of a white French mother and a black Senegalese father, she has consistently refused to be labeled an “African” or “Francophone” writer. NDiaye, who was raised in France by her mother and visited her father in Africa for the first time when she was in her twenties, insists that she is...
4. Writing as Explosion
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...features yet another avatar of the protagonist as artist: Ramzi, a fascinating albeit disreputable character, is a gifted embalmer who, toward the end of the novel, becomes a successful writer. In an introductory note Condé stresses the genuine artistic value of embalming by describing it as “a noble, but very secret art” (2008, 12). Ramzi himself renames embalming...
5. Writing as Remembering
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...A poet, novelist, critic, journalist, and professor of literature, Lyonel Trouillot has published in both French and Creole and lives in his native city of Port-au-Prince, where his activism against political oppression contributed to the departure of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.¹ One of the signatories of the manifesto “Toward a ‘World Literature’ in...
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...By undermining any categorical opposition between a “high,” normative literature from the French center and an eccentric or, at best, ethnographic literature from the Francophone periphery, littératuremonde is fundamentally meant to reevaluate the relation between literature and the world, both the function of literature in the world...
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Page Count: 328
Publication Year: 2013