Overview

When The Pillar of Salt was first published in 1953, it caused a scandal in Tunis. Acclaimed sociologist Albert Memmi, the son of poor Jewish parents who lived at the edge of the equally poor Jewish and Muslim quarters, wrote candidly about the life of Tunisia’s small Jewish community and the failings of the tiny local bourgeoisie, “which thought itself opulent but was only ridiculous.” Memmi was no less critical of his Muslim fellow citizens or of the various European colonialists in his vicinity. “The Pillar of...
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The Pillar of Salt

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Overview

When The Pillar of Salt was first published in 1953, it caused a scandal in Tunis. Acclaimed sociologist Albert Memmi, the son of poor Jewish parents who lived at the edge of the equally poor Jewish and Muslim quarters, wrote candidly about the life of Tunisia’s small Jewish community and the failings of the tiny local bourgeoisie, “which thought itself opulent but was only ridiculous.” Memmi was no less critical of his Muslim fellow citizens or of the various European colonialists in his vicinity. “The Pillar of Salt reads like a general indictment,” Memmi writes in a new introduction to this 2013 eBook edition.

This is an unusual man’s coming of age story and a document about a community that has now all but disappeared.


“The grave torment of the truly homeless is the theme of Albert Memmi's mature, thoughtful book... His father an Italian Jew, his mother a Berber, Benillouche struggles on the tattered fringe of the Tunisian ghetto for the very air he breathes... Beneath this account of privation, there is a more deeply harrowing realization on the part of the protagonist that he belongs nowhere.” — New York Times

“In the Celine-Sartre-Camus tradition of the contemporary French novel of despair, this autobiographical narrative has maturity, stylistic grace, and purpose... A thoughtful, perceptive work.” — Library Journal

“Told with clarity of vision, a passionate sense of justice, and a warm heart.” — New York Herald Tribune
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Product Details

  • BN ID: 2940016416120
  • Publisher: Plunkett Lake Press
  • Publication date: 5/31/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 931,174
  • File size: 422 KB

Meet the Author

Albert Memmi was born in Tunisia in 1920, the second of thirteen children of a poor, working-class Arabic-speaking Jewish family. He learned French in his Jewish elementary school and attended Lycée Carnot in Tunis. When the Nazis invaded Tunisia during World War II, he was unable to continue his studies and interned in a labor camp. He moved to Paris in 1945 where he met Germaine Dubach, a Catholic, whom he married in 1946. The couple moved back to Tunis, where two of their three children were born, and where Memmi taught high school philosophy and helped found a publication that would later become Jeune Afrique.

His first book, the autobiographical novel The Pillar of Salt, appeared in 1953. After Tunisia became independent in 1956, Memmi — a prominent leftist and Jew — returned to Paris where he has lived ever since. During the Algerian war, he published The Colonizer and the Colonized with a preface by Jean-Paul Sartre, in 1957. Portrait of a Jew and The Liberation of the Jew were published by Gallimard in 1962 and 1966. Memmi became a French citizen in 1973. He taught at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and Université de Paris-Nanterre, received the Académie Française’s Grand Prix de la Francophonie and is a Doctor Honoris Causa of the Ben Gurion University of the Negev.
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