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Enduring Negativity

Representations of Albinism in the Novels of Didier Destremau, Patrick Grainville and Williams Sassine


Charlotte Baker

This study focuses on fictional representations of albinism in the work of the French writers Didier Destremau and Patrick Grainville, and the Francophone Guinean writer Williams Sassine. The focus on selected novels allows for an in-depth study of each narrative and sheds new critical light on these under-studied writers, permitting a comparative discussion of the novels in relation to other writing about albinism. A series of common themes can be found in these novels, which, although present in different combinations and intensities, echo the preoccupations of all fictional writing about albinism. They include a recognition of the problematic relationship between inner and outer reality (in both bodily terms and in relation to notions of inclusion and exclusion), the challenging of accepted categories and designations, and the consequent problematisation of the relationship between Self and Other. Bound up with these issues, of course, are questions of identity and power.


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Contents Acknowledgements vii Introduction 1 Chapter 1 The Albino Body 23 Chromatic Ambivalence 25 A Deficient Body 36 Disability 41 The Transforming Body 47 Freakery 50 Chapter 2 Myth and Stereotype 57 The Stereotypes of Albinism 58 Alternative Explanations 65 The Stigma of Albinism 70 Myths Surrounding Albinism 72 Sacrifice 77 Chapter 3 Inclusion and Exclusion 87 Forms of Exclusion 88 Social Exile 93 The ‘Passing’ Albino 95 A Mark of Belonging 98 The Cost of Inclusion 103 vi Chapter 4 Inhabiting the Margins 113 Borders, Boundaries and Divisions 114 The Threat of the Ambiguous 116 Geographical Margins 122 Multiple Centres, Multiple Margins 133 Chapter 5 Power and Identity 141 Violence and Power 142 Networks of Resistance 149 The Albino Body as a Space of Resistance 164 ‘Être albinos’ 174 Conclusion 181 Appendix: Fictional Works Featuring Albino Characters 193 Bibliography 197 Index 217

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