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From Francophonie to World Literature in French

From Francophonie to World Literature in French: Ethics, Poetics, and Politics

Thérèse Migraine-George
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 328
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    From Francophonie to World Literature in French
    Book Description:

    In 2007 the French newspaperLe Mondepublished a manifesto titled "Toward a 'World Literature' in French," signed by forty-four writers, many from France's former colonies. Proclaiming that the francophone label encompassed people who had little in common besides the fact that they all spoke French, the manifesto's proponents, the so-called francophone writers themselves, sought to energize a battle cry against the discriminatory effects and prescriptive claims offrancophonie.

    In one of the first books to study the movement away from the term "francophone" to "world literature in French," Thérèse Migraine-George engages a literary analysis of contemporary works in exploring the tensions and theoretical debates surrounding world literature in French. She focuses on works by a diverse group of contemporary French-speaking writers who straddle continents-Nina Bouraoui, Hélène Cixous, Maryse Condé, Marie NDiaye, Tierno Monénembo, and Lyonel Trouillot. What these writers have in common beyond their use of French is their resistance to the centralizing power of a language, their rejection of exclusive definitions, and their claim for creative autonomy.

    eISBN: 978-0-8032-4861-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction Francophonie and Littérature-Monde, Friends or Foes? (pp. ix-liv)

    This book looks at how contemporary French-speaking writers’ call to replace the designation “Francophone literature” by “littératuremonde en français” (world literature in French) points to French and Francophone literary studies as a site of renewed transnational debates on issues of identity, ethics, and aesthetic universality. In 2007 the publication in the French newspaperLe Mondeof a manifesto titled “Pour une ‘littérature-monde’ en français” (“Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French”) and signed by forty-four writers from various parts of the French-speaking world, including France, triggered a wealth of international conferences, newspaper articles, and scholarly publications enthusiastically embracing or sternly disputing...

  5. 1 Writing as Mimicry Tierno Monénembo’s Colonial Avatar (pp. 1-34)

    Living in exile since 1969, Guinean-born writer Tierno Monénembo defines himself as “a runaway writer,” a writer first and foremost whose primary task is to explore and interrogate “the extraordinary complexity of life” (Cévaër 1993, 111, 166). In a 1987 interview Monénembo says that the Guinean youth who grew up in a country controlled by President Ahmed Sékou Touré’s repressive ideology suffered from too much Manichaeism and needed “ambiguity” and “doubt”; as Monénembo also puts it, “There is nothing better than seeing oneself through the other’s gaze, even when this gaze is subjective, hateful” (quoted in Jacquey 1987, 152).¹ Thus...

  6. 2 Writing as Desire Nina Bouraoui and Hélène Cixous (pp. 35-62)

    Nina Bouraoui’sTomboyand Hélène Cixous’sReveries of the Wild Woman: Primal Scenesare autobiographical narratives that recount the authors’/narrators’ complex emotional relationship with Algeria. Born in France to an Algerian father and a French mother, Bouraoui spent most of her childhood in Algeria. Born in Algeria to a French father and a German mother, Cixous experienced the anti-Semitism directed at Jews in Algeria before leaving for France at age eighteen. Bouraoui’s and Cixous’s longing to belong in Algeria, on the one hand, and deep feelings of alienation, on the other hand, are made even more acute by their multivalent...

  7. 3 Writing as Otherness Marie NDiaye’s Inalterable Humanity (pp. 63-92)

    The laureate of the 2009 Goncourt Prize for her novelTrois femmes puissantes, Marie NDiaye was widely hailed by the international media as the first black woman to receive the most prestigious French literary award. Although she is the daughter of a white French mother and a black Senegalese father, she has consistently refused to be labeled an “African” or “Francophone” writer. NDiaye, who was raised in France by her mother and visited her father in Africa for the first time when she was in her twenties, insists that she is only “superficially African” (NDiaye 1992) and that she grew...

  8. 4 Writing as Explosion Maryse Condé’s Transnational Textual Bodies (pp. 93-128)

    Writing and artistic creation in general constitute central thematic foci in Maryse Condé’s work. In many of her texts—Tree of Life,The Last of the African Kings,Crossing the Mangrove,La belle Créole, andThe Story of the Cannibal Woman, among others—her protagonists reflect on their status as writers or artists in the context of various sociocultural environments.¹ Condé’s novelLes belles ténébreuses(2008) features yet another avatar of the protagonist as artist: Ramzi, a fascinating albeit disreputable character, is a gifted embalmer who, toward the end of the novel, becomes a successful writer. In an introductory note...

  9. 5 Writing as Remembering Lyonel Trouillot on Love and Haiti (pp. 129-162)

    A poet, novelist, critic, journalist, and professor of literature, Lyonel Trouillot has published in both French and Creole and lives in his native city of Port-au-Prince, where his activism against political oppression contributed to the departure of Jean-Bertrand Aristide.¹ One of the signatories of the manifesto “Toward a ‘World Literature’ in French,” Trouillot also contributed an essay toPour une littératuremonde(Le Bris and Rouaud 2007). Commenting on the Étonnants Voyageurs–Haïti festival, which was supposed to take place in January 2010 but was cancelled because of the earthquake, Trouillot points out the wide cultural, social, and aesthetic scope of...

  10. Conclusion Toward a Literature of Mobility and Hospitality (pp. 163-178)

    By undermining any categorical opposition between a “high,” normative literature from the French center and an eccentric or, at best, ethnographic literature from the Francophone periphery, littératuremonde is fundamentally meant to reevaluate the relation between literature and the world, both the function of literature in the world and the status of the world in literature. As Bernard Lahire especially shows in his sociological studyLa condition littéraire: La double vie des écrivains(2006), writers, far from being disembodied minds able to dedicate themselves entirely to their creative work, are necessarily caught up in a network of material and socioeconomic structures...

  11. Notes (pp. 179-202)
  12. References (pp. 203-224)
  13. Index (pp. 225-237)