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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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3. The War of Independence


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The War of Independence (1954–1962) that resulted in the death of one million and a half Algerians and freed the country from 130 years of colonialist oppression is incontestably the most important Algerian national experience. It is not only the resumption and culmination of all the insurrections against foreign invasions that stretch back to Jugurtha (who fought the Romans) through Emir Abdelkader (who fought the Ottomans and the French), but also the event that preserves and unites these insurrections into a single narrative. Also significantly, it has been a powerful determinant of Algerians’ vision of the world; it has shaped the way they look at themselves and at others and continues to shape the country’s foreign policy. The War also still exerts a posttraumatic effect on Algerians, both on those who experienced it first-hand as adults and those who were young children at that time.

The War of Independence, in addition, has changed the French political landscape; it led to the collapse of the Fourth Republic and its replacement with the Fifth and present constitution of France, brought the country to the verge of a coup d’état on April 21, 1961, and divided its military and its political classes for a generation. Additionally, it remains more than fifty years after one of the most controversial events in French history. Deeper even, it has left an indelible mark ← 119 | 120 → on French psyche—two million French soldiers served in Algeria. It...

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