Autobiography and Independence: Self and Identity in North by Debra Kelly

By Debra Kelly

In Autobiography and Independence, Debra Kelly examines 4 finished Francophone North African writers—Mouland Feroan, Assia Djebar, Albert Memmi, and Abdelk?bir Khatibi—to light up the advanced dating of a writer's paintings to cultural and nationwide histories. The legacies of colonialism and the problems of nationalism run all through all 4 writers' works, but of their outstanding individuality, the 4 exhibit the ways that such heritages are refracted via a writer's own heritage. This booklet may be of curiosity to scholars of Francophone literature, colonialism, and African background and tradition. (10/10/2006)

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There are also implications in such an attitude for the (mis)understanding of the place of the individual in Islamic culture. Jean Déjeux, whom I criticised earlier for his very French Republican insistence on the importance of the French school, is rather more interesting in an earlier article: Cette question de l’apparition de l’autobiographie est primordiale au regard des écrits maghrébins. De fait, le ‘je’ et l’exposition du moi, de l’hommesujet, ne vont pas de soi dans le contexte de la civilisation et de la culture arabo-musulmanes.

Women’s autobiographical practices, like the postcolonial practices under analysis here, seem to explore the social conception of individualism. The ‘I’ does not necessarily ‘represent’ a ‘we’, but is often a vehicle to explore the relation between the ‘I’ and that ‘we’. Gusdorf, as we have seen, calls the Western male ‘gatherer of men, of lands, of power, maker of kingdoms or of empires’. However, as Susan Stanford Friedman comments, not only are women rather the ‘gathered, the colonised, the ruled’,75 but ‘[a] white man has the luxury of forgetting his skin color and sex.

Solidarity and group ethics lead to uniformity and conformity, acting as a brake on the affirmation of ‘I’ and one’s own personality. e. the troubling, destabilising test. It was he who obliged societies to shift, to question the unanimity of traditional behaviours, to leave the ranks and the norms of yesterday in a double movement of resistance against the coloniser and attraction to his knowledge and mastery of History, times and techniques. ) Déjeux goes on to quote Hichem Djaït once again, writing that Islam has been unaware of humanism as a basis for civilising values,44 but here he Auto & Ind pages rev again 26 1/2/05 4:27 PM Page 26 Autobiography and Independence is quoted explaining more clearly the Islamic attitude: ‘Précisons: l’humanisme en tant que valorisant la personne humaine en tant que telle, car il existe un humanisme musulman de l’homme en tant que croyant, pris dans le religieux’ (‘To be more precise, humanism in so far as it gives a value to the human person as such, because there does exist a Muslim humanism of man as believer, from the religious aspect’).

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