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La carnavalisation de l’orient dans la prose narrative francophone (post)moderne (Quebec et maghreb) Benalil, Mounia

Abstract

This study deals with the deconstruction of the representation of the Orient in the francophone contemporary novel and short story. It shows how francophone literary texts mirror camivalesque praxis in their representation of the Orient. I adopt a comparative approach to examine how writers as various as Marie Jose Theriault and Dany Laferriere from Quebec, Assia Djebar and Abdelhak Serhane from the Maghreb inscribe their perception of the Orient as both the Other and the Same. I postulate that a camivalesque reading of a selected body of novels by these writers can provide an appropriate means of systematizing a whole neo-orientalist and counter-neoorientalist mouvement in the literatures of the francophone world. From the theoretical point of view, I demonstrate how the concepts of the camivalesque and the dialogic, developped by Mikhail Bakhtine, allow for a post-colonial and a post-modern reading of the francophone novel in its multi-faceted and contradictory textualities of the Orient. First, I compare orientalist practice in a novel and two collections of short stories by Theriault, "Les demoiselles de Numidie" (1984), "L'envoleurde chevaux" (1986) and "Portraits d'Elsa" (1990) to a novel by Laferriere, "Comment faire I'amour avec un Negre sans se fatiguer" (1985). For Theriault, orientalizing the chronotope of creation goes along with the fantastic articulation of a feminist project. For Laferriere, the orientalist re-invention of islam through the aesthetic of the kitsch offers a possibility of questioning the stereotypes about Negroes in the Quebec of the 1980. Second, I compare a novel by Djebar, "L'amour, la fantasia" (1992) to a novel by Serhane, "Le soleil des obscures" (1992). The polyphony at work in the novel of Djebar is intended to bring the Arab woman on the scene of History during colonized Algeria. Serhane relies on the body's corporeality to subvert the ostracizing structures of the Moroccan tradition. For both writers, resistance to orientalism (as counter-orientalism) is located deconstructively within a project of historical recuperation of the transformational process of identity. Finally, this work shows how, despite the limitations of Bakhtine's theory, the critical function of the carnival brings basic affinities between francophone writers allowing for a reading of a wide range of orientalist practices not only in the literatures of Quebec and the Maghreb, but also in the literatures of the afro-caribbean world and beyond. In the unresolvable debates on identity and alterity, the francophone contemporay novel takes on a camivalesque move by showing the interactions of the myriad forms of cultural display, the material exigencies of reading and the political implications of criticism.

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