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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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Timetable of Turning Points in Algerian History and of Writers and Texts Discussed


Year Historical Events Author, Works 1830 Eager to strengthen his power at home and gain credibility abroad, the French king, Charles X, uses a dispute with the ruler of Algiers, Dey Hussein, over wheat payment as a pretext to send an armada of 600 ships and 37, 000 soldiers to the Algerian coast. The French disembark in Sidi-Fredj on June 14 and quickly overcome the dey’s forces. The Dey of Algiers signs the act of surrender on July 5 and flees to Naples shortly after (Kaddache, 2000, p. 563). 1831 The French, who occupy Algiers in a matter of days, have little difficulty taking over a few towns along the coast: Oran in the west on January 9 and Bône in the east in March. 1832 A brilliant general, statesman, theologian, and poet, rightly considered the founder of modern Algeria, Emir Abdelkader is plebiscited as Emir or Commander of the Faithful on November 25, 1832, in the western town of Mascara (Kaddache, 2000, p. 588; Stora, 2001, p. 4) and immediately proclaims war against the invaders. Abdelkader soon builds a modern state divided into eight provinces extending from the Moroccan border to Kabylie. He builds forts and ammunition factories, organizes an army of 12,000 regular troops, sets up a diplomatic corps and an efficient administration with a hierarchy of officials to collect taxes, dispense justice, and stock grain for the army. To oppose the French army’s reliance on large-force tactics and heavy artillery, Abdelkader engages in swift and...

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