De la révélation de soi à l’auto-compréhension : Assia Djebar, L’Amour, la fantasia et Nulle part dans la maison de mon père

Mildred Mortimer

Résumé


A writer of fiction since the late 1950s, Assia Djebar began introducing autobiographical elements into her texts with her fifth novel, L’amour, la fantasia, (1985) published in English as Fantasia, An Algerian Cavalcade (1985). Fully aware that subjectivity in life and fiction are often considered transgressions in Algerian culture, the novelist responds to by implementing narrative strategies in the text that signal an original approach to autobiography -- fragmented autobiography, polyphonic discourse, and autofiction.

Two decades later, Djebar offers her readers, Nulle part dans la maison de mon père (2007), a personal history that sheds further light on a life story that is both exemplary and unique. This text is crucial to our understanding of the novelist’s autobiographical project for several reasons. First, we can now view Djebar’s narrative unveiling as a two-stage process that began as a collective project but has resulted in the production of a singular life, a singular voice. Second, her previous focus upon unearthing occulted colonial history is now a personal quest, as she recovers, through memory, hidden personal history. Third, we see more clearly the ambiguous relationship between the young girl and the father who is alternately liberator and censor, a conflict that reflects, in part, the tension between the writer and the French language. Fourth, as we witness the unfolding of the autobiographical project, we become aware that Djebar, trained as a historian, is first and foremost a novelist, someone for whom the construction of a literary persona is a cornerstone of her craft, the blending of fact and fiction an important component of her writing. Finally, her approach to self-representation forces readers to consider two related questions that concern the Algerian writer’s work in particular and the realm of women’s autobiography in general: Does the autobiographical process heal the fragmented narrating self? Does it effectively challenge patriarchal structures and ideology or merely create nostalgia for a lost Eden in which women are jealous guardians of tradition?


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Références


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