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"Common Being" and Organic Community in Jacques Roumainis Gouverneurs de la rosee

From: Research in African Literatures
Volume 37, Number 2, Summer 2006
pp. 164-175 | 10.1353/ral.2006.0040


The representation of community in Roumain's Gouverneurs de la rosée is analysed in relation to Jean-Luc Nancy's concept of "common being," or organic community. The circular time-scale and spatial closure, the theme of martyrdom, and the narrative movement towards the elimination of difference and conflict through the revelation of an underlying homogeneity can all be seen as attributes of common being. Nancy's argument that communism and Christianity are founded on a similar ideal of organic community also allows us to relativize the novel's contradictory combination of a Marxist thesis and a use of Christian imagery to characterize its hero. But conversely, Nancy's theoretical framework also highlights another major contradiction in the novel between the supposedly self-sufficient nature of the organic community and its inability to save itself: it is only the intervention of external knowledge acquired in a very different society that allows it to regain its former harmony and modest prosperity.

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