History's Place: Nostalgia and the City in French Algerian Literature

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History's Place explores nostalgia as one of the defining aspects of the relationship between France and North Africa. Dr. Seth Graebner argues that France's most important colony developed a historical consciousness through literature, and that post-colonial writers revised it while retaining its dominant effect. The North African city became a privileged place in the relationship between literacy and historical discourses in the colony. Graebner analyzes the importance of architecture and urbanism as markers of historical development, as the urban fabric and descriptions of it became signs of difference between metropole and colony. Discussing writers as diverse as Bertrand, Randau, and Kateb, this book examines how the changing Algerian city has remained the locus of a debate colored by various sorts of nostalgia. Graebner demonstrates that nostalgia was symptomatic of historical anxiety generated by colonial conditions, but with literary consequences for mainland France as well. History's Place is a comprehensive and valuable addition to the study of French literature and cultural studies.

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Editorial Reviews

Lydie E. Moudileno
History's Place is a distinguished, erudite, and convincing study of the crucial role of culture and literature in the articulation of the French-Algerian colonial relationship. Supported by outstanding research and innovative archival work, this book provides a compelling analysis of the ways by which three intellectual communities-Metropolitan French, Algerian French, and Arab/Imazighen-have continuously produced fictions of "Algeria" to support their claims to national identity and difference. Moving from the roman colonial to more recent postcolonial narratives, History's Place forces us to rethink our conceptions of French Algerian literature by insisting on trans-Mediterranean continuities rather than ruptures. As such, it is a wonderful tribute to the vitality and complexity of Francophone intellectual life since the nineteenth century.
Winter 2009 Research In African Literatures
Graebner's study is an innovative work, elaborated with a remarkable care for detail that still preserves the sense of an overarching structure of feeling and ideas that adhere to the movement of history. Not the least of its qualities is the clarity of its critical formulations, placed constantly at the service of an impressive breadth of coverage and analytical insight.
Mireille Rosello
This is a timely and original project on Algerian writing that both illuminates and redefines its object of study. Graebner's interdisciplinary approach to storytelling crosses traditional ethnic, national, and religious boundaries. He successfully brings together the radically different voices of early Algerianists, Albert Camus, Emmanuel Roblès, or Kateb Yacine and Rachid Boudjedra, without artificially reconciliing their points of view.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Seth Graebner is Assistant Professor of French and of International and Area Studies at Washington University in Saint Louis.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Louis Bertrand and the Building of L'Afrique latine Chapter 2 Robert Randau and the Algérianistes' Algeria Chapter 3 The Roman indigène: Anthropological Fiction and its Consequences Chapter 4 1930: The Cult of Memory Chapter 5 Broken Idylls: Audisio, Camus, and Roblès Chapter 6 Kateb Yacine and the Ruins of the Present Chapter 7 Mohammed in the Métro: Remembering 17 October 1962 in the Novels of Rachid Boudjedra

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