In the press and in public appearances, Moroccan authors frequently accuse the education system of not sufficiently encouraging students to become readers and consumers of literature. Mohamed Nedali’s novel Grâce à Jean de la Fontaine! uses the form of a semi-autobiographical novel to make a similar accusation. Nedali’s text is one of a growing number of Moroccan narratives that criticize local school systems, thus occupying a paradoxical position. Can a novel truly critique the institution responsible for its continued existence? In this article, I argue that Grâce à Jean de la Fontaine! uses the literary form to reimagine the relationship between literature and education. The text’s enigmatic narrator, Mohamed Né… tests the boundaries of autobiography in order to satirize the foundational assumption of the educational autobiography: that the school turns students into authors. The novel also utilizes Jean de la Fontaine as an allegorical figure. La Fontaine’s Fables, a traditionally pedagogical text that nonetheless uses satire to speak truth to power, echoes the problematic position of Nedali’s Grâce à Jean de la Fontaine!. Ultimately, I show that by interrogating and deconstructing the cultural significance of La Fontaine, this text imagines how Moroccan francophone literature can use its marginal status as a space of educational critique, while still promoting the continued growth of local literary culture.


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pp. 281-297
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