- L’épreuve de la béance: l’écriture nomade chez Hédi Bouraoui
As author Abdelraahman Beggar suggests in his introduction, Hédi Bouraoui’s writing resists classification with regard to specific national identity or literary movement. His life and writing are infused with movement and cultural confrontation, from Tunisia, to Europe and now Canada, where he taught for decades at York University. This incredibly prolific author-scholar, who has received eleven literary prizes and published over fifty books of prose and poetry and over one hundred articles, claims an absolute right to freedom of expression and style, defying the notion of the defining line or border. This need for displacement of the “Moi” in his work finds its expression in the figure of the nomad, one who destroys all “altars, icons or obstacles, for a clear view of the horizon”; Beggar notes that Bouraoui’s writing is an esthetic and migratory “glorification of displacement from the white space of the blank page” (4).
Liberating the self, from both its sense and subject, describes the process by which Bouraoui deconstructs signifiers in order to dislodge their assigned phonemic and semantic meanings, producing “revolutions” through his expression of the world (5). Beggar uses examples from fifteen works of poetry and prose by Bouraoui to explicate the process of this migratory literary self. Beggar notes that the nomadic aspect of Bouraoui’s work is not about abolishing cultural difference, or about “orientalizing” or “Occidentalizing,” but rather recognizing and respecting Otherness in order to go beyond it (7). Beggar describes Bouraoui’s conception of the human being as a totality within the open space (“la béance”) of the circle and not as a creature locked in binarity. Rather, the aspects of “attitude” and drive (“élan”) are integral to the creation of one’s being and through which one may move and change (7–8). Beggar suggests a reading of Bouraoui’s texts in light of Lacan’s “Grand Autre,” or Other, as a way to qualify the aspect of “béance” so prevalent in his work, this “Nothingness that is a prelude to Being” (8). In addition [End Page 157] to Lacan, Foucault, Kant, and Deleuze, Beggar’s discussion draws from some sixty secondary sources that include psychoanalysts, philosophers, historians, anthropologists, and literary critics.
In the first section, “Béance et instinct de mort,” Bouraoui’s works Tremblé, Retour à Thyna, and La pharaone are discussed in light of the thematic of martyr and victim, and characters contesting “historical destiny,” while “re-creating” it. Beggar notes the author’s subversion of the classic linearity of historical novels, where the past determines a hero’s present actions. The second part, “Béance et altérité,” demonstrates how Bouraoui negotiates aspects of Otherness related to the marginal spaces of mental and physical handicaps. “Béance et nomaditude,” the third section, draws attention to ideas of self and cultural re-creation, to creative drive as a liberating force, as discussed in Bouraoui’s collection, Transpoétique. Eloge du nomadisme (Montréal; Mémoire d’encrier, col. “Essai,” 2005). This thin but remarkably dense essay (with index) is accessible to those with a working knowledge of psychoanalytic criticism, and Beggar’s analysis aptly captures the essence of Bouraoui’s literary and critical corpus.