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Postcolonial Francophone Autobiographies

Postcolonial Francophone Autobiographies: From Africa to the Antilles

Edgard Sankara
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 232
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  • Book Info
    Postcolonial Francophone Autobiographies
    Book Description:

    Bringing a comparative perspective to the study of autobiography, Edgard Sankara considers a cross-section of postcolonial francophone writing from Africa and the Caribbean in order to examine and compare for the first time their transnational reception. Sankara not only compares the ways in which a wide selection of autobiographies were received locally (as well as in France) but also juxtaposes reception by the colonized and the colonizer to show how different meanings were assigned to the works after publication.

    Sankara's geographical and cultural coverage of Africa and its diaspora is rich, with separate chapters devoted to the autobiographies of Hampâté Bâ, Valentin Mudimbé, Kesso Barry, Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphaël Confiant, and Maryse Condé. The author combines close reading, reception study, and postcolonial theory to present an insightful survey of the literary connections among these autobiographers as well as a useful point of departure for further exploration of the genre itself, of the role of reception studies in postcolonial criticism, and of the stance that postcolonial francophone writers choose to take regarding their communities of origin.

    Modern Language Initiative

    eISBN: 978-0-8139-3176-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    Postcolonial Francophone Autobiographies: From Africa to the Antillesreflects a broad spectrum of Francophone autobiographies, examining the works of such authors as Valentin Mudimbé from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Amadou Hampâté Bâ from Mali (formerly French Sudan); Kesso Barry from Guinea; Patrick Chamoiseau and Raphaël Confiant from Martinique; and Maryse Condé from Guadeloupe. To date, there has been a paucity of scholarship in the field of comparative Francophone studies. With its rich geographical and cultural coverage of Africa and the diaspora, this study fills an important gap by juxtaposing works from two colonized entities as they relate to...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Hampâté Bâ: Equilibrium and Ambiguous Reception
    (pp. 21-52)

    Unlike the many Francophone African autobiographers who practiced autobiography at a relatively early age, Amadou Hampâté Bâ came to first-person narrative at the last stage of his career as a writer. Bâ was well known as a “traditionalist” for his endeavor to preserve African culture and traditions through his writings. He published many folktales and essays about identity in the African context, defining himself as a “man of culture.”Amkoullel, l’enfant peul(1991) is the first of his two autobiographical writings, the second beingOui, mon commandant!(1994). In this chapter, I show that even when attempting to practice the...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Valentin Mudimbé: Autobiography, Philosophy, and Exclusive Francophone Reception
    (pp. 53-73)

    Valentin Mudimbé is well known in the American academy for his numerous works on Africa. The publication of his autobiography,Les Corps glorieux des mots et des êtres, on his fiftieth birthday attests to his continued interest in Africa as well as his own academic achievements. In the present chapter, I propose that the autobiography of this African scholar who was born and raised in the colonial Belgian Congo is a site where history, philosophy, and self-narrative meet, largely because of the hybridity of the work. Second, I show how philosophy permeates and shapesLes Corps glorieux des mots et...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Kesso Barry: Autobiography, Masculinity, Ambiguity, and Limited Reception
    (pp. 74-94)

    The autobiography of Kesso Barry is atypical compared to those by other autobiographers considered in this study because her autobiography is her only publication and because she declares she wrote it for a special audience: her daughter Sandra.¹ However, Kesso Barry shares the same ethnic origin as Hampâté Bâ, as she is a “Peuhle” (Fulani). In this chapter I examine how a Francophone African woman autobiographer appropriates masculine attributes in order to create a counterdiscourse aimed at criticizing a male-dominated society. I also show that the writer’s conquest of masculinity is individual and does not correspond to a feminist agenda...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Patrick Chamoiseau: The Theatrical Self and a Paradoxical Reception
    (pp. 95-117)

    Patrick Chamoiseau was born in Fort-de-France, the capital of Martinique, in 1953. He studied law both in his country of birth and in France, and he served as a probation officer in Fort-de-France before working as a librarian with young prisoners in France. Chamoiseau collaborated with his fellow countryman Raphaël Confiant and Jean Bernabé on the literary manifestoEloge de la Créolité; the three authors are considered the primary partisans of Créolité, the theory of French West Indian literature, culture, and identity. In this chapter, I demonstrate thatAntan d’enfance,one of a series of autobiographies by Chamoiseau, uses orality...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Raphaël Confiant: Defense and Illustration of Créolité and Its Complacent Reception
    (pp. 118-143)

    Raphaël Confiant is one of the authors, along with Jean Bernabé and Patrick Chamoiseau, ofEloge de la Créolité(1989), a manifesto for a new literature in the French Caribbean—a literature that, through its use of Creole, is rooted in the realities of the islands.

    Confiant’s narrative inRavines du devant-jourjuxtaposes standard French, Creole, and local Martinican French. He takes liberties with the French language in order to point to the realities of Martinique, and he employs the Creole language even when a French equivalent is available. Confiant takes this compromise with the French language to another level...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Maryse Condé: Autobiographical Space and Lukewarm Reception
    (pp. 144-158)

    Maryse Condé is a prolific writer, known for her fictional works, but known also for being at odds with critics, one of whom has called her “the recalcitrant” daughter of Africa.¹ Yet Maryse Condé is much more: in addition to being a Guadeloupean, she has attained international fame and is known as a globetrotter, a cosmopolitan writer who has made the questioning of identity a fundamental part of her fictional creations. In this chapter I explore the “autobiographical space” of Maryse Condé in three of her texts—Heremakhonon (1976), La Vie scélérate (1987), and Le Coeur à rire et à...

  12. CONCLUSION: Francophone African and Caribbean Autobiographies and Their Mixed Reception
    (pp. 159-170)

    My book concentrates on autobiographies written by authors from two geographically different areas, Africa and its diaspora, with French as the common linguistic connection. This study shows that Francophone autobiographers’ adoption of a canonical genre does not necessarily result in complete imitation and can allow for a spectrum of creativity and modification. My analysis of these texts serves as a theoretical and practical reflection on the differences and similarities among Francophone African and Caribbean literary productions in the postcolonial era. The relationship between autobiographical writing and the various audiences implied by each narrative problematizes the issues of authenticity for autobiographies...

  13. NOTES
    (pp. 171-198)
    (pp. 199-210)
  15. INDEX
    (pp. 211-218)