In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The Specter of Jean Sénac Danielle Marx-Scouras DURING THE PAST FEW YEARS there has been a resurgence of interest, both in France and Algeria, in the gay, revolutionary, piednoir poet, Jean Sénac, who was brutally assassinated in Algiers on August 30, 1973, under circumstances that remain a mystery to this day. In many respects, this renewed enthusiasm for Sénac, "the Algerian, the piednoir ... the greatest poet of the Maghreb,"1 coincides with intense historical interest in Algeria. This interest results, to a large degree, from the escalation of violence in a civil war that has cost over 100,000 lives since the aborted legislative elections of January 1992. In fact, numerous Algerian journalists, writers, and intellectuals now claim that Sénac was the first martyr of Algerian Islamic fundamentalism: "Il est fréquent, en effet, par ces temps de violence recommencée, de rappeler son assassinat et de l'inscrire en avant-signe des meurtres d'aujourd'hui."2 Sénac, whose complete poetic works were published in 1999 by Actes Sud, occupies a central place not only in the recent works of Rachid Boudjedra, Assia Djebar, Christiane Chaulet-Achour, and Jamel-Eddine Bencheikh, but also in newspapers as diverse as Libération and Le Monde in France, and Alger Républicain , El Watan, Liberté, Algérie Actualité and La Tribune in Algeria. For example , an article entitled "Jean Sénac, martyr algérien" that appeared in Libération (3 September 1998) reads: "Le grand poète aimait son pays, l'Algérie, qui Ie rejeta. Son assassinat, il y a vingt-cinq ans, fut le premier signal de la tragédie à venir." Further on, the author Abdelhafid Adnani notes: "La fin du grand poète algérien Jean Sénac [...] assassiné à l'arme blanche par une main sans doute liée à l'extrémisme islamiste, est un signal fort, que les tragiques événements de la dernière décennie viennent, hélas, confirmer d'une manière éclatante." With his 1983 publication of Assassinat d'un poète the French journalist Jean-Pierre Peroncel-Hugoz made Sénac a political martyr. But why do Algerian intellectuals seek to exploit this image today? Is there a symbiotic relationship between an Algeria beset by a bloody civil war and this pariah of Algerian literature of French expression who sought to be an integral part of a nation that considered him a "gaouri" (foreigner/infidel)? Is Sénac the first martyr of Algerian fundamentalism or is his recent rehabilitation symptomatic of something else? For at that very moment in which Sénac, the foreigner, the homosexual, the bastard child of Algeria, becomes the first putative victim of Islamic fundamentalism, he also, ironically, wins back the Algerian identity Vol. XLIII, No. 1 45 L'Esprit Créateur he first lost in 1963: "Au fond, il ne reste qu'une chose à faire: donner à Jean Sénac sa place dans la littérature algérienne, parce qu'il était algérien jusqu'au bout des ongles et jusqu'au bout de la poésie" (Boudjedra 75). It has taken a second Algerian war for Sénac to once again earn the title of Algerian writer; he, who proclaimed in 1957, "Est écrivain algérien tout écrivain ayant définitivement opté pour la nation algérienne."3 Boudjedra, who finds Sénac "plus Algérien que n'importe quel autre," claims that Sénac was the first victim of Algerian Islamist fundamentalism: he was killed because he was a pied-noir. Sénac was disturbing because he was the symbol of a multiracial and multi-religious Algeria, a "generous Algeria" (71). According to Boudjedra, "Sénac, le gaouri, a été assassiné par des intégristes qui avaient la haine de l'intelligence et la haine de l'autre. Il y a déjà bien lontemps!" (75). Similarly, in Le Blanc de l'Algérie, Djebar notes that the first poet killed in between the two Algerian wars, supposedly a time of peace, was apied-noir. "[D]éjà , à peine un peu plus de dix ans après l'indépendance, le pays reniait sa tradition d'ouverture et de pluralité, hier encore...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 45-57
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.