While beyond the scope of the current article, this question of the privileging of women writers at this time would be worth exploring in more detail. Regardless of whether one could speak of a new literature, the fixed notion of urgence is called into question by texts which stage the very processes of reference by, for instance, using the space of the novel to inter- rogate national allegory anew, to recast old tropes, and to explore new possible forms of nationalism outside the hegemonic State and cultural spheres.
This new generation if indeed we can call it that builds into its literary aesthetics not simply an experience of the events of the s in Algeria, but an experience of the often highly politicized account of those events. Rethinking urgence 57 markets during the s and, in so doing, to recast urgence as an urgency of deconstructive reading and writing after the event, his literary work seems at the same time to continually resist fixed readings and reduc- tions.
Algiers: Barzakh, , p. References to this text will be given in parentheses.
However, the text is contin- ually aware of its own flaws and clearly presents a series of caricatures through its main characters. Transformed into the C. Rethinking urgence 59 neurotic caricature of the self-narrative and at the same time a reflection on the self-interest, misanthropy, and failures of the writer. This is, once more, a seeming parody of the search for origins or stable meaning in literature. In its parodic staging of history, the text can be seen to reveal the very process by which a discursive framework is formed, both by the State and by dominant accounts of history.
In this way, the text resembles many others of the posts period in Algeria. In this regard, the text is almost endlessly and certainly excessively suspended and deferred, revelling in its ambivalence.
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In and around Algiers, such public displays of dissent were met with increasing repression by the police. By replaying the story of the author through the eyes of the inspector in its final part, the novel rereads itself, all the while staging and parodying the overly simplistic readings of a life and of a history through a highly fragmented and almost unreadable text. Again, in a seeming parody of reductive reading, a literary professor friend of the inspector reads the phallic symbols in Marwan K. In a passage which perhaps more directly presents a parody of the urgence of the s, El Afrite concludes that Marwan K.
If the period of the s is told at all, it is done with an acute awareness of, and with an inbuilt mechanism to protect the text from the likelihood of reductionist reading and criticism. Conclusion The ability of literature to testify to life in general can mean that it is urgent in more than one way; however, urgence in its immanent and aesthetic senses must be viewed in those aesthetic, and not solely thematic, terms.
Literature in Algeria is certainly an engaged literature, however to assume that this means all literature produced within a certain time period can be described in a certain way — placed within a certain terminology — would risk reducing that literature to a form of historical reference, where a certain constructed and perhaps not really existing body of writing would come to characterize a certain period.
By reading literature closely and with a sensibility to its historical contexts, reference can be introduced to the extent that the reader appreciates the multiple ways in which a text might be engaged in the political present, without necessarily taking that text as an account of the political present.
Benfodil, Mustapha, Zarta! Algiers: Barzakh, Tome 1: Le Roman Paris: Hatier, , pp.
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