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The Algerian Novel and Colonial Discourse

Witnessing to a «Différend»


Abdelkader Aoudjit

During the last fifty years, Mouloud Feraoun, Mohammed Dib, Mouloud Mammeri, and Kateb Yacine achieved significant international recognition yet remain little known in the United States. Filling a pressing need, The Algerian Novel and Colonial Discourse provides a critical introduction and a new approach to the works of these Algerian novelists. Beginning with an overview of their novels, this book goes on to discuss critical approaches to them, challenging the widely held notion that they are merely ethnographic, upholding the status quo. The Algerian Novel and Colonial Discourse provides a new reading, and, most significantly, argues that they are best read as witnesses to the kind of conflict Jean-François Lyotard calls a différend – a conflict in which one suffers an injustice and is at the same time deprived of the means to argue. The Algerian Novel and Colonial Discourse then examines the issue of humanism that the novels allegedly both appeal to and reject and demonstrates that the Algerian authors’ condemnation of colonialism is both a coherent political position and consistent with their critique of liberal humanism. It concludes with a discussion on the ongoing relevance of the Algerian novels.
The Algerian Novel and Colonial Discourse includes a glossary and a short history of modern Algeria to provide readers with the political and cultural contexts they need to understand its literature. This combination of innovative theoretical approach and political context makes this book of utmost importance for students of Francophone literature and for literary critics interested in colonialism, postcolonialism, and Lyotard’s philosophy.