The End of Colonialism in Novels
by Albert Memmi and Kateb Yacine
As empires faded, historians, sociologists, political scientists and literary scholars stepped in to record the process or seize the moment. Novelists concerned with the same process have been writing and continue to write novels which convey, reflect, dramatize, memorialize or otherwise embody mental decolonization.2 This paper looks at how novels attempt to go beyond the perceptions of history and social science, examining a novel by a Muslim writer of North Africa, the Algerian Kateb Yacine,3 and a novel by an indigenous Tunisian Jewish writer, Albert Memmi.4 These novelists belong to the majority and minority religious groups of the Maghreb. By studying them together, we see dramatically how the process of decolonization meant two utterly opposite outcomes for Muslims and Jews of the Maghrebian countries. Though they cover the same period (the second world war and the years leading up to independence) the novelists present opposite views of similar events. They also have very different aesthetic approaches to the novel, Yacine's being a poetic one, and Memmi's leaning toward apparent autobiography.
Like a majority of novels produced in new nations of the developing world, and despite their technical sophistication, the two novels examined here are intimately involved with history and social reality.5 The literary currents of their time--the early nineteen fifties--also enter into their literary makeup. Thus, Existentialism, and its attendant values of engagement, commitment, and fidelity to the standard of absolute sincerity, are important elements in these novels. As a novelist in an emerging new nation, one was not totally free to follow one's own creative whims. Society--as has often occurred in established nations too (see note 6 below)--expected novelists to promote the national culture through their work. The writer was endowed with a privileged role, taking over the mantle of ancient poets and seers. Thus the writer could not only reflect but also invoke or partake in the creation of the nation through poetic constructions. Such a theory of creativity and the function of the artist in society paradoxically takes us back to the largely European eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Romantic view of the role of the poet in the tribe or nation. It is an expression of the aesthetics of organic nationalism.6
Literature, thus, according to the theory of psychological decolonization, can encourage the development of an independent national identity, by applying the ideas of European Romantic aesthetics. How then do these two Maghrebian novelists, members of the religious majority and a minority, portray the process of national independence?
Both Albert Memmi and Kateb Yacine are politically committed writers, involved in the independence process in Tunisia and Algeria, respectively. Memmi's Pillar of Salt appeared in 1953, while Kateb Yacine's Nedjma appeared in 1956, but had been several years in the making. They were two of the earliest novels written in French by indigenous North Africans,7 one a Tunisian Jew, the other an Algerian Muslim. Nowadays, as literature, both look a little dated, but both books were considered major literary events at the time, in North Africa and in France.8 Albert Memmi participated in the Tunisian independence movement by helping to found L'Action culturelle and contributing to its pages regularly (this publication was the forerunner of the successful cultural weekly Jeune Afrique, still published in Tunis).9 After his first two novels, set in Tunisia, Memmi soon published The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957),10 these essays and those of Dominated Man (1968)11 causing him to become known as one of the major theorists of third world nationalism. Like Frantz Fanon, whom Memmi slightly preceded (The Wretched of the Earth was first published in 1961)12 he made a psychological analysis of the predicament of the colonized which is still valid today. The theory is that the colonizer can only exist by usurping things from the colonized--land, economic resources, profits, ideals, culture or homeland. Colonized man is dependent, depersonalized, an object of history, not a subject. Colonized people have only a petrified, mummified culture, not a living one. The colonized is refused assimilation to the other culture,that of the colonizer, but then discovers his true self through this refusal. Identity thus comes through negation. Ultimately, the negative myth is succeeded by a positive myth, or self-image. For Memmi, this is how psychological decolonization comes about.
Kateb Yacine, likewise, participated in Algeria's struggle for independence in several ways. In 1945, at the age of sixteen, while in boarding school at Sétif in eastern Algeria, he helped organize demonstrations against the French during the victory celebrations. These demonstrations provoked mutual massacres, an event considered the forerunner of the Algerian war of independence (1954-62). At the age of eighteen, he lectured on Abd al-Qadir, the nineteenth-century father of Algerian nationalism, in the Salle des Sociétés Savantes in Paris. His adult years up to 1962, the year when Algeria achieved independence, were devoted to Algeria’s cause, as he lived in exile in various countries, and following independence, he furthered Algerian culture through his novels and a traveling theatre troupe in Algeria and France.
In his first novel Nedjma, a woman's name which means 'constellation of stars', Kateb Yacine did not have the benefit of psychological or social studies of relations between the colonizer and the colonized. Though the novel was published in 1956, Yacine had published a poem with the same title in 1948, consisting of a lyrical portrait of an elusive Algerian woman. The novel thus grows gradually out of his poetic intuition of the Algerian situation in the 1940s and 1950s. Nedjma is a difficult novel for the reader, involving mainly four young man just out of high school in the late 1940s, and all involved in various ways with the mysterious Nedjma. She is a quite vague and passive character who somehow eludes them. Eventually she is kidnapped by one of them, Rachid (in order to remove her from an incestuous marriage) and taken by him and his elderly friend Si Mohktar back to the territory of the Keblout tribe to which they all belong. There she is kidnapped by the local tribal members, Si Mohktar dies, and Rachid leaves alone (p. 196 et seq.). The succession of events is hard to follow, the novel being basically circular in structure, or perhaps spiral. Though it ends where it began (e.g. compare pp. 15 and 343), the reader has learned a great deal about life in Algeria at the time and about the then-unconscious yearnings of Algerians. The reader encounters a pyramidal society, with French colons owning land, industry, and property. Their complacency is matched by their insensitivity. After brushes with the prison system, the four young Muslims need work, and thus must become part of the economic system of the colony. They find work as laborers on a construction site in a country town, but one of them, Lakhdar, strikes the foreman, Monsieur Ernest, and is briefly held in prison along with political prisoners. Later another of the friends, Mourad, kills the contractor, Monsieur Ricard, for his drunken abuse of a Muslim maid. Then the four flee, almost to the four points of the compass. We become aware through these incidents of the colonial hierarchy, beginning at the top with French Catholics (Monsieur Ernest) and, in descending order, French Protestants (Monsieur Ricard), Italian settlers, Algerian Jews, and at the bottom Algerian Muslims (Arabs and Berbers). Relations are basically determined by force: as Frantz Fanon described, the colonial city always had its native quarters, then its European quarter, flanked by the police station and behind, the barracks, and mundane, material reality is ordered according to the interests of the French. The young Algerians in the novel transcend this reality at present through sleep, wine, hashish, a pilgrimage to Mecca, and poetry. The first time that poetry occurs in the text is during the account of the Sétif uprising in 1945 (described above). Kateb Yacine's prose gives way to poetry at moments of heightened awareness:
I should have stayed at school, at my job.
I should have listened to the district chief. But the Europeans had ganged up.
They had moved the beds around.
They were showing each other their fathers' weapons. There was no head-master or under-master left.
There was no smell from the kitchens now.
The cook and the steward had run away.
They were afraid of us, of us, of us!
The demonstrators had evaporated.
I went into the study. I took the pamphlets. I hid the life of Abd-el-Kader.
I felt the force of the ideas.
I found Algeria irascible. Its breathing... The breathing of Algeria was enough (p. 71).
Both Yacine's poetry and his prose often seem to be delving into the collective unconscious, playing with imagery the import of which is not immediately clear to the conscious mind. The following meditation on the cities of Algeria gives a good impression of this:
I left the ruins of Cirta for the ruins of Hippone. What does it matter that Hippone is disgraced, Carthage buried, Cirta ruined and Nedjma deflowered . . . The city flourishes, the blood dissolves, appeased, only at the moment of the fall: Carthage vanished, Hippone resuscitated, Cirta between heaven and earth, the triple wreck restored to the setting sun, the land of the Maghreb.
From Constantine to Bône, from Bône to Constantine a woman travels... It is as if she no longer existed. Sometimes she travels under guard, veiled in black now.
There are cities like fatal women, the polyandrous widows whose names are lost. .. Glory to the conquered cities; they have not yielded the salt of their tears, any more than the warriors have shed our blood: the rewards go to the wives, the eruptive widows who populate every death, the conserving widows who transform defeat into peace, never having despaired of the sowing, for the lost terrain smiles at the sepulchers, just as the night is only odor and fragrance, enemy of color and noise, for this country has not yet come into the world: too many fathers to be born by broad daylight, too many ambitious races disappointed, mingled, confused, constrained to creep upon the ruins... (pp.244-45).
However, it becomes clear that the collective unconscious of which Yacine is speaking is in fact circumscribed by the history and geography of Algeria. The woman, Nedjma, is a symbol of all the fallen cities of Algeria. Thus despite the succession of conquerors and succession of civilizations which have held sway, there is an essence which endures and survives. The images that adhere around the enigmatic Nedjma are all organic, primordial ones: a cave, a rape, the earth, water--until it becomes clear that Nedjma is less a person than a symbol for the Algerian nation, conceived in a night of rape and murder, the daughter of a French mother and an Algerian father. Once we understand Nedjma as this symbol, the yearning of the characters wheeling around her in this poetic novel begins to resemble the dawning of national consciousness.
As we saw, Kateb Yacine himself was an activist in those years just before the Algerian revolution broke out (in 1954) as he was all of his life; there is little doubt that his imaginative work is an embodiment of his ideals. The four young men are only distinguishable on close reading, especially in dialogues. It is hard to tell who is saying what in their rapid-fire conversations. This technique may help to create a sense of the collectivity, a sense that group identity is more important than individual identity, as the dawning struggle for independence creates solidarity. Little of the latter exists among the French characters--each one thinks of his or her own interests, and is isolated. There are some exceptions: a young soldier in a train who offers cigarettes and genuine interest in the Algerians, and the French policeman's wife, who shows cautious compassion to some chained-up prisoners and brings them bread and coffee.
Rather than being a directly ideological novel, Nedjma is so by implication. It is the reader who is left to draw the nationalist conclusions. Much of the novel is very subtle, even funny. Kateb Yacine is looking for the unconscious. He is interested in manifestations of play, rather than in political programs.13 For example, in a very amusing passage, he takes the reader inside the mind of a young goat-herd who is always being punished for losing his goats and allowing his small brother to fall off the donkey (pp.263-67). Yacine also has a vivid way of portraying the minds of teenagers. It is the reader who perceives the forces of socialization inexorably at work, and the reader who draws conclusions about the nature of colonial society and the options open for the colonized. It is we—his audience--who construct the Algerian collective identity in our minds, while Kateb Yacine merely sows the seed. The novel just hints at tribal relations within urban society--how members of one tribe will only marry each other, preserving their separate identity through blood-lines throughout the colonial period.
Kateb Yacine takes a unifying, consensual approach to the issue of language in Algeria in this novel. His use of the French language, apparently paradoxical in a writer who advocates cultural independence for the colonized, is a compromise between this and other various languages in which he might have chosen to write, all with serious drawbacks.
The language issue has been a divisive one in Algeria since independence, with expressions of dissatisfaction from the large Berber-speaking minorities who did not want to have Arabic imposed on them.14 The tribe of Keblout may be a Berber or an Arab tribe, but Yacine uses French to express the identity of this tribe (many educated Algerians, especially Berbers, adopted the French language during the colonial period). Kateb Yacine (whose real name was Mohammed Khellouti, ressembling his fictional tribe) might have been of mixed parentage.15 The other two languages which he might have chosen to write in, besides a Berber language, are forms of Arabic--classical or colloquial. Classical Arabic would obviously have looked stilted as a medium for the enormous amount of colloquial conversation in Nedjma, and perhaps may not have been familiar enough to Yacine in any case. Algerian colloquial Arabic would have been an option for Yacine, and as we know he did indeed write and produce plays in this language some years later. At this early point in his writing career, he obviously did not feel confident enough in his Algerian audience to write novels for it in colloquial Arabic. When Nedjma was written, the Algerian novel did not exist as a genre, and it was a radical enough departure for an indigenous Algerian to write a novel about Algeria at all. The fact was that literary expression of Algeria had been the purlieu of French writers, the colonial school of "Algerianist" novelists, and Yacine somehow had to gain the approval of these literary circles, and publication by a French publishing house in Paris, as a ticket to cultural independence. In other words, he was in the typical dilemma of the colonized writer who despite his or her desire for independence cannot avoid the need for cultural approval from the metropolis. Moreover, by avoiding choosing an indigenous Algerian language, Yacine was both bringing the message of Algeria to the world and concealing its linguistic divisions (see notes 14 and 15).
Another divisive issue for Algerians, and even more so today, is that of religion. Yacine (who died in 1989) was squarely in the camp of the secularists, and viewed the more recent events in Algeria as regressive (see note 15). His dream for Algeria was for a modern state with its own modern independent identity based on North African traditions. In the 1940s and 1950s, the Islamic religious authorities, the ulama, were viewed as having been coopted by the colonial power and thus at best passive toward the movement for independence. Yacine's secularized characters in Nedjma have patience with those who spend their time praying in mosques, but it is wearing thin:
The traveller's gaze . . . lingers on the half-closed eyelids of the faithful: "Meditation and wisdom are good for the brave who have already joined battle. Rise! Return to your posts, pray on the job. . . . I understand you, my brothers, understand me in your turn; act as if God were among us, as if he were a man out of work or a newspaper vendor; manifest your opposition seriously and without remorse; . . . you scarcely know how to walk and here you are kneeling again; neither childhood nor adolescence; right away it has to be marriage, home, the sermon in the mosque, the garage of slow death." (pp. 99-100)
Did Yacine's implied criticism of passivity among religious Muslims contribute at that time to Islamic militancy in Algeria? While his views have been influential in shaping the philosophy of the generation that fought for independence, his emphasis was on provoking resistance to the economic and political oppression of the colonial power rather than on a resurgence of Islam. The history of Algeria has turned several corners since Yacine's call just quoted, and the restricted freedom accorded to religious worship in his day existed precisely because the French did not see Islam as a threat to the status quo; the traditionalism of the more religious ensured their political passivity. Yacine's call to arise was more in the secular tradition of George Antonius' 'Arab awakening'.16 In his day, the challenge to colonialism came from socialism and secular nationalism, which usually brought with them Western respect for individual rights and freedoms, rather than present Islamic values putting the collectivity above the individual. Religion and the mosque thus offer little and receive scant attention in Yacine's novel.
Thus, in this nationalist novel, Yacine was fighting the colonizer with the latter's own weapons, so to speak. The great paradox of the day was that Europe, the continent which invented national self-determination and the idea of the nation, and more specifically France, the country which invented the rights of man, had been depriving Algeria along with much of the rest of the Third World of precisely these elements in their collective and individual identity. The moral argument was irrefutable to many thinking French people of Yacine's day, and skillfully crafted novels like this one found a ready audience in the colonial metropolis, even before they acquired a loyal readership in Algeria itself. Despite the author's maverick positions, of which his sympathies in the Berber issue are a good example, Yacine's Nedjma went on to become itself a component of Algerian cultural identity, sometimes even being required reading in Algeria's schools after independence.
Albert Memmi's Pillar of Salt, on the other hand, never found a nation to embrace it and institutionalize it. Memmi's novel deals with the same period as Yacine's in the neighboring country of Tunisia, and Memmi was also considered one of the founders of the then-new Francophone expression by indigenous writers. Despite being Jewish rather than Muslim, Memmi has been part of the same literary circles as Yacine (if marginal), being anthologized and anthologizing.17 He was awarded the Prix de Carthage for this book in 1953 and was honored again in 1984 by President Bourguiba's personally presenting him with membership in the Order of the Tunisian Republic for his work on behalf of Tunisian culture.
Memmi's technique is apparently simpler and more anguished than Kateb Yacine's. As a member of a religious minority in what will essentially be a Muslim state, Memmi cannot construct a poetic identity for himself in the future. His technique is closer to Existentialism, like Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre using analysis to understand a concrete situation. While Yacine's writing escapes into the subconscious, Memmi's writing stays in the concrete, rational and moral realms. Just as Yacine's poetic novel was a forerunner of other similar ones, so Memmi's Pillar of Salt presaged his later novels which, though technically more complex, all center on autobiographical first-person narrators, personae of the author himself. Another point of comparison between the two writers is the fact that they have both mastered other genres as well, not being content to remain novelists alone. Memmi has written poetry and a number of book-length essays, such as The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957) and Portrait of a Jew (1962).18 Yacine wrote plays in French and in Algerian Arabic, producing them himself with travelling troupes in Algeria and France.
The Pillar of Salt, Memmi's fictional biography of a character resembling himself in many respects, covers a life from the protagonist's earliest memories, up to his departure from Tunis as a young man for a new life in Argentina a few years after the end of the Second World War, roughly the same year as Yacine's novel. But Memmi divides the narrative into three parts of approximately one hundred pages each for, first, the early childhood years, second, the school years and third, the war and student years, corresponding respectively to the nineteen-twenties, nineteen-thirties, and nineteen-forties. As he grows, the narrator's physical and psychological horizons expand from a narrow blind alley near the old ghetto or hara of Tunis, to the school and neighborhood, the whole city of Tunis including the European neighborhoods, in the war years the hinterland of Tunisia, and (as a student) Algeria as well. Spatially speaking, it amounted to a series of ever-widening circles.
Chronologically speaking the story is a linear one, albeit within a frame: the autobiography begins to be written during an intellectual crisis in a university examination room: the crisis of the white page19 calls into question the protagonist's future plans to teach philosophy, his relationship with the West and with his background in the East, so to speak.
The protagonist's intellectual unhappiness with the civilization he had chosen--that of Europe--was sharply compounded by the experience of Tunisian Jews during the war. Though they were not deported to extermination camps, the Jews experienced terror and cruelty at the hands of the occupying Germans. Jewish men were interned in forced labor camps in the Tunisian hinterland and experienced much hardship. After the Allies had driven out the Germans, the protagonist attempts to join the war effort by signing up with the Free French forces but is rebuffed because they do not want to accept Jews. So much for the enlightened principles he has internalized from his French lycée. The traditional Jews of Tunis, without the advantage of his education, have much surer instincts, he tells us; once the Germans have been defeated, they show no more interest in the war, and would not think of trying to join the French (p.314).
So our protagonist was rebuffed by the French, who constitute one side of his cultural identity. Let us now look at the Arab side of his cultural identity, since the Jews of Tunisia had coexisted with the Arabs for many centuries. Benillouche has an Arab friend, Ben Smaan, who invites him to attend Tunisian nationalist meetings. Ben Smaan tells him:
We must promote unity among all the native sons of the country and make them act according to their own conscience. (p. 264)
Though he has misgivings, Benillouche feels flattered and joins the nationalist movement. A pogrom occurs in Tunis, however, during a power hiatus when there was no government to police the city (this event is modelled perhaps on historical incidents which occurred in Libya during these years in 1945 and 1948, rather than Tunisia).20 The protagonist's closest Jewish friend is killed and his Muslim friend visits to give condolences, take a walk together, and try to explain and exonerate. He gives some lame excuses, blaming the pogrom on the colonial situation, and our protagonist feels quite unsatisfied with the explanations. He begins to believe that neither Arabs nor French people can accept him and perhaps his traditional Jewish friends such as Bissor have been right in their instincts:
Bissor was dead: what was I to do about this death? Whether it was a miserable European diversionary move or a spontaneous and blind mob action, no amount of research into responsibilities would ever bring him back to life. Ben Smaan was right: one had to educate the mob, unmask those who fooled it, and draw attention to the real problems. But I was tired and the results were too far off. For the moment I stood between two walls: how was I to choose between repulsive hypocritical anti-Semitism, which had probably been the instigator of the massacre, and these murderous explosions which, like letting blood, periodically relieved the pressure of so much accumulated hatred? (p. 268)
With some exceptions, this novel sticks to facts, to real situations and the genuine feelings and experiences of the author. Like much historical fiction, it may transpose events such as the pogrom for dramatic effect, in order to emphasize something which the author believes is a historical trend. The text could be viewed as a semi-fictional autobiography or a semi-autobiographical novel (the contemporary term is now ‘judeography’, but perhaps it can be read in both ways, and our confusion is just a result of Memmi’s deliberately mystifying fictional technique (see the extract from Lia Brozgal’s book in this issue). Memmi's protagonist is always uncomfortably straddling three civilizations, a situation which is epitomized in his name--Alexandre Mordechai Benillouche--French, Jewish and Arab. The traditional relationships of the pre-colonial period enabled Jews and Muslims to live together in the unequal partnership of dhimma, the 'protected status' of Jews.21 This unraveled in the colonial period, providing lower-class Jews like Memmi and his protagonist with tremendous opportunities but no more safeguards. The traditionalists stayed on in Tunisia or moved to Israel; the modernizers like himself moved to France at independence in 1956. A few Jews, for example André Barouch, who gave considerable financial support to the Néo-Destour party, became officials in the new Tunisian government. As discussed above, Albert Memmi himself supported independence and became an editor of the cultural section of L'Action culturelle. But, like most Jewish professionals who stayed on, he began to feel less than welcome in subtle ways, and moved to Paris. Memmi's protagonist goes to Argentina as a result of his intellectual and cultural dead-end. Paradoxically, the novel begins in a physical impasse or cul-de-sac where the narrator spent his early childhood, and it ends in an intellectual dead end, in which he does not know where he belongs. (Memmi personally seems to have transcended this stage as France represents an opportunity for greater intellectual growth).22
One point of comparison between these two contemporaneous but very different novels will, I believe, highlight the diverging histories of Jews and Muslims in North Africa.
Kateb Yacine's novel has, like Memmi's, a Jewish member of the incipient movement for independence in Algeria. We learn little about him, however. A Jew belongs to the group of young friends at Sétif and was killed during the riots there in 1945 (p. 310). There is also a Jewish bar-owner in the village where the young Muslims work. He calls a taxi and pays the driver to take them back home when they are drunk (p. 30). Again, no more details are given: these Jews seem barely present, but are not presented negatively like the French, who are capable of all sorts of cruelty. However, Jews are certainly not part of the tribal blood bonds which form the basis of Yacine's poetic vision of Algeria. Memmi would not have found an answer to his political and existential dilemma in Yacine's novel. Muslims in Memmi's novel range from the crazed and mindless murderousness of the mob to slightly troubled but basically uncomprehending intellectuals.
A phrase from a later novel by Memmi, The Desert (forthcoming English translation, Syracuse University Press, 2015), might have been written by Yacine himself in relation to the persistence and renaissance of tribal links in Algeria prior to independence: “only blood and blood ties must count for us; we are the sons of our fathers and the fathers of our sons; that must suffice us until the end of time” (p. 146). Memmi is referring to a kingdom founded by a Jewish-Berber tribe in southern Morocco (destroyed at the end of the fourteenth century), and his entire novel, set in the medieval period, emphasizes the shared culture of Jews and Muslims at that time.
Though they apparently did not meet with each other at the time, we can imagine a dialogue between the authors of these two novels when they were written. Thus Memmi poses the question of the post-independence relations of religious groups--will there be a place for minorities in the new states of North Africa? And Yacine answers: we can't address that issue right now, let independence come and then we'll see. Some Jews like Memmi did lend a hand and even occasionally paid with their lives, but they were individuals. Jewish communities as a whole assumed that the traditional symbiosis, or coexistence, of Jews and Muslims, which had persisted for centuries, was finally over and it was time for the Jews to leave their ancestral homes. In the age of Middle East nationalism, the Jews had to become nationalists themselves. Whether they benefited or not from colonialism, the Jews were paying a heavy price for it as the colonial period came to its end.
1. Judith Roumani is the editor of Sephardic Horizons, author of Albert Memmi (Philadelphia: CELFAN Editions, 1987 )and several articles on Memmi, translator of Memmi’s novel The Desert (forthcoming, Syracuse University Press, Fall, 2015). This article was originally prepared when I was a visiting scholar at the Meyerhoff Center, University of Maryland, and was delivered as a paper for a conference held at the University of Maryland, “As Empires Fade” held in 1993. With thanks to Professors Bernard Cooperman, Mark E. Cohen, and Miles Bradbury for their input. For more references to general theoretical developments in the fields of francophone and postcolonial studies, see the bibliography to Lia Brozgal’s book, Against Autobiography: Albert Memmi and the Production of Theory (Lincoln: Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2013).
2. From the great nineteenth-century Realist novels to today, a major expectation of novelists on the part of the public has been that their works reflect history by being not just aesthetic artefacts but also commentaries on contemporary or recent history. In the new nations of the Third World, this expectation may have been encouraged by the influence of Socialist Realism in the 1930s and 40s.
3. Kateb Yacine, Nedjma, 1956, tr. Richard Howard, (rpt. Charlottesville, Univ. of Virginia, 1991).
4. Albert Memmi, La Statue de sel (1953; tr. Edouard Roditi, rpt. Boston: Beacon, 1992).
5. Literary critics of Third World literature usually are obliged to deal with the social and historical context of Third World novels at some point. This is not only for the elucidation of the Western reader but also because the novelists themselves are often socially committed in their own countries and intend their works to shed light on political or social problems within them. For theoretical justifications of this approach, see e.g. (for differing areas of the world) Jean Franco, The Modern Culture of Latin America: Society and the Artist (London: Pall Mall, 1967) or Edward Said, The World, the Text and the Critic (Cambridge, Mass: Harvard Univ. Press, 1983).
6. Herder's theory that the nation is an organic being can be seen in Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menshheit 4 vols. (1784-91); trans. T. 0. Churchill, ed. Frank E. Manuel, Reflections on the Philosophy of the History of Mankind (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1968). Herder saw language, literature and art as the direct expressions of a soul (either individual or national) striving to emulate God in creativity. Folk literature thus expressed not only the unity of a nation but its relationship to its Creator. Hence arose Herder's enthusiasm for collecting folksongs, stories and traditions of many nations. See Joe K. Fugate, The Psychological Basis of Herder's Aesthetics (The Hague: Mouton, 1966), p. 264; H. J. Closkey, "The State as an Organism, as a Person, and as an End in Itself," The Philosophical Review, 77 (July 1963), 306-326; and R. Ergang, Herder and the Foundations of German Nationalism (New York: Octagon, 1966) rpt. of thesis, Columbia Univ., 1931, pp. 243-4.
7. Other early post-war Francophone writers were Mohammed Dib with his ethnographic novels, beginning with La Grande maison (1952), Mouloud Feraoun with his novels and diary of the war years, and Mouloud Mammeri with his novels, short stories and translations of Berber poetry.
8. La Statue received at least seven reviews in 1953. See Guy Dugas, Albert Memmi écrivain de la déchirure (Sherbrook: Naaman, 1984), p. 158; and my Albert Memmi (Philadelphia: CELFAN Editions, 1987), p. 15. On the importance of Yacine's novel as a literary event, see Russell Marsh, "Stages (of Aggression) in Algerian Fiction of French Expression," CELFAN Review 4:1 (Nov. 1984), 9-13, esp. p. 10. Also, "Cette Nedjma, qui reste jusqu'à maintenant le plus bel enfant de toute la littérature de graphie française en Afrique du Nord," Jean-Pierre Péroncel-Hugoz, "Kateb Yacine, le 'franc-parleur" Le Monde des livres May 20, 1994, p. 5.
9. In La Terre intérieure: Entretien avec Victor Malka (Paris: Gallimard, 1976), Memmi described his contribution to the Tunisian nationalist struggle and his belief that Tunisia must become independent (pp.122-27). See also Les Juifs et les Arabes (Paris: Gallimard, 1974), po 24.
10. Portrait du colonisé précédé du Portrait du colonisateur, pref. Jean-Paul Sartre, 1957 (Paris: Payot, 1973), trans. Howard Greenfield, The Colonizer and the Colonized 1965 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1967).
11. L'Homme Dominé 1968 (Paris: Payot, 1973); trans. Eleanor Levieux, Dominated Man: Notes Towards a Portrait (New York: Orion, 1968).
12. Frantz Fanon, Les Damnés, de la terre, pref. Jean-Paul
Sartre, 1961 (Paris: Maspero, 1968); trans. Constance
Farrington, The Wretched of the Earth (New York: Grove Press, 1965).
13. 0n this, see Joanne Alexander-Sullivan, "The Development through Play of the Poet's Personality in Kateb Yacine's Nedjma (1956) and Le Cercle des Représailles (1959) and Le Polygone étoilé (1966)," Ph.D. diss., Rice University, 1979.
14. 0n the issue of Berber languages and literature, see Mala Tabory and Ephraim Tabory, "Berber Demands for Linguistic Rights in Algeria," Plural Societies 16 (1986), 126-60. On language issues in general in Algeria, see Anne-Emmanuelle Berger, ed., Algeria in Others’ Languages (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 2002).
15. Following Algerian independence Yacine always supported Berber/Amazigh demands for greater cultural freedom. Tabory et al. (p. 156) relate how his travelling theatre troupe performed at Berber cultural events (his play was presented in Algerian Arabic dialect while some of his plays also contain some Berber, of which there are many languages). He spoke out courageously on behalf of greater autonomy for Berbers within the Algerian nation and is still cited today on the subject. See Tassadit Yacine, "Ne pas dévoyer la revendication berbère," Le Monde des livres Oct. 11 1994, p. 10: "Ne sommes nous pas, une fois de plus, confrontés au problème du 'voleur qui crie au voleur', comme l'écrivait Kateb Yacine a propos de l'attitude du pouvoir face a la revendicatiori berbère?" As a freethinker, following independence Yacine began to criticize Algeria's internal cultural colonialism which imposed an Arab and Islamic culture on Berbers, of different ethnic origin, whose presence in Algeria predated that of the Arabs, and whose religion pre-dated Islam. See Péroncel-Hugoz, "Kateb Yacine le 'franc-parleur'", p. 8, quoting Yacine in 1989: "L'Algérie française a duré cent trente ans. L'arabo-islamique dure depuis treize siècles! L'aliénation la plus profonde . . . plus de se croire français mais de se croire arabe. Or il n'y a pas de race arabe ni de nation arabe. Ii y a une langue sacrée, la langue du Coran, dont les dirigeants se servent pour masquer au peuple sa veritable identité. Though she does not deal extensively with Yacine, Fazia Aïtel in We are Imazighen: The Development of Algerian-Berber Identity in Twentieth Century Literature and Culture (Gainsville: Univ. Press of Florida, 2014), p. 7, mentions that Yacine named his son ‘Amazigh’, meaning Berber. See also Jane Goodman’s review of this book in Middle East Journal 69:3 (Summer 2015), pp. 468-469.
16. See George Antonius, The Arab Awakening: The Story of the Arab National Movement (1946; New York: Capricorn, 1965).
17. E.g. Memmi was the series editor for a series of anthologies of Maghrebian literature in French or in French translation, published in Paris by Presence Africaine and Maspero. For more on these, see Brozgal, op. cit.
18. See above, notes 10 and 11.
19. See also Eric Sellin, "Obsession with the White Page, the Inability to Communicate, and Surface Aesthetics in the Development of Contemporary Maghrebian Fiction: The Mal de la page blanche in Khatibi, Farès and Meddeb" International Journal of Middle East Studies 20 (1988), pp. 165-173.
The phrase came originally from Mallarmé.
20. 0n Libya, see Renzo De Felice, Ebrei in un paese arabo (Bologna: Il Mulino, 1978); Jews in an Arab Land: Libya, 1835-1970 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1985); Maurice Roumani, The Jews of Libya: Coexistence, Persecution, Resettlement (Brighton: Sussex Academic Press, 2008).
21. See Bernard Lewis, The Jews of Islam (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984).
22. Memmi seems to have stayed on in Tunisia for about two years after independence. In La Terre, Memmi gave an external reason and a purely personal reason for leaving Tunisia: "ce que je sentais si fortement . . . à la fois que la cause de la Tunisie était juste et que tous les minoritaires non musulmans n'y auraient plus leur place. Je travaillais d'ailleurs sur le Portrait du colonisé et ce que j'avais vu intuitivement devenait plus claire, plus cohérent: une jeune nation naissait, s'affirmait et pour un temps allait expulser de sa vie tout ce qui n'était pas exactement elle-même . . . Pourquoi n'aurais-je pas tourné la page? Il m'était même nécessaire de la tourner, pour avancer. La preuve en est que j'en ai fait un livre; c'est une preuve constante chez moi; un livre termine, résume et clôt quelque chose. C'est ainsi que j'achevai à Paris le Portrait du colonisé précédé du Portrait du colonisateur" (pp. 135-36, 140). The extract from Memmi’s journal of the years 1955-56, reproduced in this issue of Sephardic Horizons, gives a further idea of his thoughts during that period.