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Narratives of Catastrophe

Boris Diop, ben Jelloun, Khatibi

Nasrin Qader

Publication Year: 2009

Narratives of Catastrophe tells the story of the relationship between catastrophe, in the senses of down turnand break,and narration as recountingin the senses suggested by the French term rcit in selected texts by three leading writers from Africa. Qader's book begins by exploring the political implications of narrating catastrophic historical events. Through careful readings of singular literary texts on the genocide in Rwanda and on Tazmamart, a secret prison in Morocco under the reign of Hassan II, Qader shows how historical catastrophes enter language and how this language is marked by the catastrophe it recounts. Not satisfied with the extra-literary characterizations of catastrophe in terms of numbers, laws, and naming, she investigates the catastrophic in catastrophe, arguing that catastrophe is always an effect of language andthought,. The rcit becomes a privileged site because the difficulties of thinking and speaking about catastrophe unfold through the very movements of storytelling.This book intervenes in important ways in the current scholarship in the field of African literatures. It shows the contributions of African literatures in elucidating theoretical problems for literary studies in general, such as storytelling's relationship to temporality, subjectivity, and thought. Moreover, it addresses the issue of storytelling, which is of central concern in the context of African literatures but still remains limited mostly to the distinction between the oral and the written. The notion of rcit breaks with this duality by foregrounding the inaugural temporality of telling and of writing as repetition.The final chapters examine catastrophic turns within the philosophical traditions of the West and in Islamic thought, highlighting their interconnections and differences.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Cover

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p. c-c

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. i-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-viii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xiv

I do not know where to begin acknowledging all those who have guided my steps and propelled my thought as I made my way, often falteringly, through this project. While thinking and writing demand solitude from us, they simultaneously provoke us to converse, at times silently, and at other...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-50

This project is the culmination of years of thinking through some of my dissatisfactions regarding the field of African literature and its relationship with certain theoretical directions in literary studies in general. While African literature in general (and specifically Francophone African literature, the...

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2. Suffering Time

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pp. 51-85

Based in France, Tahar ben Jelloun is arguably Morocco’s most prolific and internationally known writer. While his career dates to the early 1970s, one could say his fame is due to his prize-winning 1985 novel, L’enfant de sable (Sand Child), and its sequel, La nuit sacre´e (Sacred Night). This fame has been...

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3. Shadowing the Storyteller

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pp. 86-120

In chapter 1, I discussed Boubacar Boris Diop’s novel on the genocide in Rwanda and said that much of Diop’s work is turned toward catastrophe, be it literary, historical, political, or mythical. His 1997 novel, Le Cavalier et son ombre (The Rider and his Shadow), is written in the confluence of all...

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4. Un-limiting Thought

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pp. 121-152

Abdelkebir Khatibi’s thought haunts this project from its first pages. Therefore, it is only fitting that the last chapters be dedicated to direct and sustained engagement with Abdelkebir Khatibi, as a writer and as a thinker. This double engagement is made necessary by Khatibi’s oeuvre, which seldom...

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5. Figuring the Wine-Bearer

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pp. 153-187

In chapter 2, I opened the question of the relationship between transcendence and the imagination, arguing that the movements of transcendence are related to the distancing dynamics of the subject from itself through thought and imagination. I showed how the very possibility of survival requires...

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Conclusion

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pp. 188-192

A dynamic that haunts this book from the very first pages comes through explicitly in the final chapter. This dynamic is the question of the feminine: as excess, as madness, as satanic, in short, the feminine as catastrophic. It is perhaps necessary to highlight briefly the character of this notion of the feminine,...

Notes

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pp. 193-222

Works Cited and Index

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pp. 223-238


E-ISBN-13: 9780823247189
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823230488
Print-ISBN-10: 0823230481

Page Count: 304
Publication Year: 2009

Research Areas

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Subject Headings

  • African fiction (French) -- History and criticism.
  • Diop, Boubacar Boris, 1946- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Ben Jelloun, Tahar, 1944- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Khatibi, Abdelkebir, 1938- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Disasters in literature.
  • Storytelling in literature.
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