Contemporary Francophone African Writers and the Burden of Commitment

Contemporary Francophone African Writers and the Burden of Commitment

Odile Cazenave
Patricia Célérier
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Contemporary Francophone African Writers and the Burden of Commitment
    Book Description:

    By looking at engagée literature from the recent past, when the francophone African writer was implicitly seen as imparted with a mission, to the present, when such authors usually aspire to be acknowledged primarily for their work as writers,Contemporary Francophone African Writers and the Burden of Commitmentaddresses the currrent processes of canonization in contemporary francophone African literature. Odile Cazenave and Patricia Célérier argue that aesthetic as well as political issues are now at the forefront of debates about the African literary canon, as writers and critics increasingly acknowledge the ideology of form. Working across genres but focusing on the novel, the authors take up the question of renewed forms of commitment in this literature. Their selected writers range from Mongo Beti, Ousmane Sembène, and Aminata Sow Fall to Boubacar Boris Diop, Véronique Tadjo, Alain Mabanckou, and Léonora Miano, among others.

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3115-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. INTRODUCTION: The Burden of Commitment
    (pp. 1-14)

    The very existence of “Engagement,” which can loosely be translated from the original French as political involvement of the intellectual class, has come to seem passé. This is true not only in France, widely viewed as the home of theengagéintellectual, with Emile Zola’s “J’accuse” of January 3 , 1898 , the foundational document, but also in Europe and the United States. The belief in the transformative ability of literature and in the higher (visionary) power of the writer and of the intellectual has given way to a less idealistic, less dogmatic, and more complex stance.

    Critical evaluation of...

  5. CHAPTER ONE Enduring Commitments
    (pp. 15-50)

    There is no pat answer to the issue of literary commitment. The difficulty in understanding that notion today is that it is conceptualized differently depending on the location of writers and critics. In the francophone world, literary commitment is equated with Engagement, which, in turn, is quickly associated with Sartre, and has been the subject of long-standing debates. In the United States and the Anglo-Saxon world in general, literary commitment has been explained with other analytical tools and can arguably be considered as appended to postcolonial theory. These different contexts have generated theoretical axes, and paradoxes, that are compounded by...

  6. CHAPTER TWO The Practice of Memory
    (pp. 51-96)

    Memory and the “duty of memory” are themes that have become prevalent in contemporary discussions of history and literature. Following World War II, with the articulation of the notions of “crimes against humanity” and “genocide” through the United Nations Charter, the prosecution of responsible parties, and the emergence of testimonial narratives related to the Holocaust, Western societies have been reconceptualizing their relationship to the past. In the latter half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first century, demands for former imperial powers to recognize and admit crimes committed during their colonization of Africa and the neocolonial period...

  7. CHAPTER THREE Lifting the Burden? Francophone African Writers Engaging in New Aesthetics
    (pp. 97-138)

    In this chapter we evaluate how the need to be emancipated from the old notion of engagement has led African writers creatively, and how it may have been related to the change in the relationship between France and Africa from the late 1980s on.¹ As pointed out by Raharimanana in the following quote, the younger generations have been confronted more crucially than before with the question of defining themselves in relation to both African and French literatures.

    I imagine how surprised literary critics were when we all turned up, between 1987 and 1990 . We were only promising young authors...

  8. CHAPTER FOUR The Fashioning of an Engaging Literature: The Publishing Industry, the Internet, and Criticism
    (pp. 139-176)

    Despite its increased visibility, the production of African art continues to be burdened by adverse market forces and cultural stereotyping. This is especially true for African literatures and visual arts. Despite great creative output and the international recognition of some individual artists such as the Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow and the conceptual artist Yinka Shonibare, and despite the collaborative efforts deployed by various critics/scholars/artists such as Simon Njami and Salah Hassan, African visual arts are yet to be fully appreciated. Internationally acclaimed exhibits of African visual arts, such as the 2005 Africa Remix¹ at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, continue...

  9. CONCLUSION: The Possibilities of Artistic Commitment
    (pp. 177-186)

    Discussing in an interview the function of contemporary art, which he had written about in his essayLe spectateur émancipé(2008 ), Jacques Rancière highlights the following discrepancies:

    There was a time when art clearly carried a political message, and critics tried to discern this message in the works. . . . It was thought that, by pointing out certain representations of power . . . one would elicit in the viewer both a consciousness of the system of domination and the aspiration to fight against it. In my opinion, this tradition in artistic criticism has been running out of...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 187-204)
    (pp. 205-238)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 239-246)