By Lia Nicole Brozgal
The paintings of Tunisian Jewish highbrow Albert Memmi, like that of many francophone Maghrebian writers, is frequently learn as thinly veiled autobiography. wondering the existing physique of feedback, which maintains this interpretation of so much fiction produced by way of francophone North African writers, Lia Nicole Brozgal indicates how such interpretations of Memmi’s texts imprecise their no longer inconsiderable theoretical possibilities.
Calling cognizance to the ambiguous prestige of autobiographical discursive and textual components in Memmi’s paintings, Brozgal shifts the focal point from the writer to theoretical questions. opposed to Autobiography areas Memmi’s writing and concept in discussion with numerous significant severe shifts within the overdue twentieth-century literary and cultural panorama. those shifts contain the main issue of the authorial topic; the interrogation of the shape of the unconventional; the resistance to the hegemony of imaginative and prescient; and the critique of colonialism. displaying how Memmi’s novels and essays produce theories that resonate either inside of and past their unique contexts, Brozgal argues for permitting works of francophone Maghrebi literature to be learn as complicated literary gadgets, that's, no longer easily as ethnographic curios yet as producing components of literary thought on their lonesome phrases.
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Additional info for Against Autobiography: Albert Memmi and the Production of Theory
The various connotative significations of “francophone,” however, suggest a slippage in meaning that is, at times, antithetical to its denotative usage and at odds with the sense implied in Memmi’s 1985 preface. Of Authors and Archives 9 Coined by French geographer Onésime Reclus in 1880, a time that might well be described as the apex of French imperialism, “francophone” was originally an exclusionary term used to designate both speakers of French who were not French nationals and French citizens whose native tongue was not French:22 “We accept as francophone all those who are or seem to be destined to remain or become participants in our language: Bretons and Basques from France, Arabs and Berbers from the Tell who are already our subjects.
In other words, the narratives and other cultural productions of “primitive” (what Barthes calls “ethnographic”) societies, those who have yet to experience modernity, remain unburdened by the figure of the author. My purpose here, however, is certainly not to accuse Barthes of Euro-centrism or to stage a longer argument about narrative and authorship in “ethnographic” societies (which, in fact, Barthes does not define in his text). What I do want to suggest is that the essay constructs a funeral pyre for a certain category of author, one that may well exclude authors like Memmi and, generally speaking, francophone postcolonial authors or writers from the periphery.
In this manner, francophone postcolonial studies implicitly recognizes the “double archive” of postcolonial studies and echoes Memmi’s particular concept of francophone. Furthermore, Forsdick and Murphy’s marriage of the francophone and the postcolonial seeks to recognize a French specificity in what might be called the French university system’s “resistance” to the postcolonial: “Since the French revolution, French national identity has rested on the abstract notion of citizenship, which claims to transcend issues of race, gender, and class, in order to create a society of equal citizens.
Against Autobiography: Albert Memmi and the Production of Theory by Lia Nicole Brozgal