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Algerian Literature

A Reader’s Guide and Anthology


Abdelkader Aoudjit

The only up-to-date and comprehensive text and reader of Algerian literature available in English, Algerian Literature: A Reader’s Guide and Anthology offers the reader a historical and critical overview of the literature from the early twentieth century to the present, introduces Algerian authors, and provides selections from a wide range of their writings, many translated here for the first time. It begins with an overview chapter that charts the evolution of Algerian literature and puts it in its proper historical context, followed by five thematic chapters: decolonization and cultural affirmation, the War of Independence, modernization and its discontents, emigration, and history. The chapters begin with introductions on the themes under discussion and the selections are preceded by biographies of the authors, as well as detailed summaries of the larger works from which they are extracted. Finally, each chapter concludes with a bibliography and sources for readers seeking additional information and insight.

The selections included in Algerian Literature: A Reader’s Guide and Anthology have been carefully chosen to reflect the richness and diversity of Algerian literature. Accordingly, they are extracted from various literary genres: novels, plays, and poems. Furthermore, they are from works that belong to different literary movements: realism, modernism, and postmodernism.

The variety and the outstanding quality of the selections, along with the superb introductions, summaries, and biographies make Algerian Literature: A Reader’s Guide and Anthology an ideal text for courses in Algerian, Francophone, and world literature courses. It will also be of interest to general readers outside the classroom who want to broaden their literary horizons.

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2. Decolonization


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Algeria began to come under French control on May 16, 1830, when an expeditionary force of 600 ships carrying 35,000 soldiers under the command of Marshal Louis de Bourmont set out from Toulon to Algiers. The French landed in Sidi Fredj some twenty-five kilometers west of the town on June 14, and then marched on the capital, which they took a week later (Kaddache, 2000, p. 562; Stora, 2001, p. 3). The French troops slaughtered civilians, looted, and desecrated mosques and cemeteries (Kaddache, 2000, pp. 571–574).

At that time, Algeria was part of the Ottoman Empire but only nominally. Actually, the sultan exercised little control over the beys and deys as the provincial rulers of the empire were called. Within Algeria itself, the Turks, who lived on piracy in the western Mediterranean, controlled a handful of coastal towns: Algiers, Oran, Constantine, and Medea; the rest of the country—the mountains east of Algiers and the countryside—was the home of independent-minded villages, communities, and religious brotherhoods who lived by their own laws and customs and over which the Ottomans had no authority. The Dey of Algiers signed the act of surrender on July 5 and fled to Naples shortly after (Kaddache, 2000, p. 563). The janissaries, who were easily defeated, were deported to Turkey ← 55 | 56 → within weeks even though they offered to serve under French command to subdue the interior of the country (Kaddache, 2000, p. 563). The French...

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