Paul-Étienne Vigné (1859-1943), a doctor with the French colonial army and then a politician, is remembered as a very early anti-colonialist. During his lifetime he was also known as a novelist writing under the pseudonym Vigné d’Octon. His novels from the 1880s and 1890s reveal a fantasized, intensely sexual Africa where hapless French soldiers perish of malarial fever caught not from a mosquito-borne parasite but from contact with African women. Yet the deaths of these young men are not seen as the result of a contagious sexual disease but as a direct consequence of their having overstepped the natural boundaries between the races. Thus a fundamentally racialist view, according to which humanity was divided into incompatible strands whose meeting could only endanger the individuals involved, was the theoretical basis of Vigné d’Octon’s novels. It was also - paradoxically – the foundation of his anti-colonialist politics.


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pp. 201-215
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