Remembering French Algeria

Remembering French Algeria

Pieds-Noirs, Identity, and Exile

Amy L. Hubbell

296 pages

Hardcover

June 2015

978-0-8032-6490-8

$55.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

Colonized by the French in 1830, Algeria was an important French settler colony that, unlike its neighbors, endured a lengthy and brutal war for independence from 1954 to 1962. The nearly one million Pieds-Noirs (literally “black-feet”) were former French citizens of Algeria who suffered a traumatic departure from their homes and discrimination upon arrival in France. In response, the once heterogeneous group unified as a community as it struggled to maintain an identity and keep the memory of colonial Algeria alive.

 

Remembering French Algeria examines the written and visual re-creation of Algeria by the former French citizens of Algeria from 1962 to the present. By detailing the preservation and transmission of memory prompted by this traumatic experience, Amy L. Hubbell demonstrates how colonial identity is encountered, reworked, and sustained in Pied-Noir literature and film, with the device of repetition functioning in these literary and visual texts to create a unified and nostalgic version of the past. At the same time, however, the Pieds-Noirs’ compulsion to return compromises these efforts. Taking Albert Camus’s Le Mythe de Sisyphe and his subsequent essays on ruins as a metaphor for Pied-Noir identity, this book studies autobiographical accounts by Marie Cardinal, Jacques Derrida, Hélène Cixous, and Leïla Sebbar, as well as lesser-known Algerian-born French citizens, to analyze movement as a destabilizing and productive approach to the past.

Author Bio

Amy L. Hubbell is a lecturer in French at the University of Queensland. She is the coeditor of Textual and Visual Selves: Photography, Film, and Comic Art in French Autobiography (Nebraska, 2011).

Praise

"Hubbell's Remembering French Algeria is an intriguing and important contribution to scholarship on the representation of Algeria in literature and film."—D. L. Boudreau, Choice

"Perhaps the most important work of literary criticism to date devoted to examining the veritable richness and inherent paradoxes of Pied-Noir literature in all of its extremely divergent forms."—Keith Moser, Contemporary French Civilization

"[Remembering French Algeria] provides an interesting compilation of pied-noir narratives, and the fact that the author has made them available in English makes this book particularly useful on undergraduate courses for non-French speakers."—Natalya Vince, Modern and Contemporary France

"Hubbell's book tackles a challenging topic and does a great job framing and analyzing the pied-noir experience from a mostly psychoanalytic perspective."—Fazia Aïtel, French Review

"Remembering French Algeria is a relevant resource and a valuable tool for both specialists in the field of Postcolonial Studies and those with general interests in literature, history, and ethics."—Anna Rocca, Studies in Twentieth and Twenty-First Century Literature

“This is a thoughtful and thought-provoking study that contains remarkable insights. Remembering French Algeria makes an important contribution to current scholarship on postcolonial relations between France and Algeria and fills an important gap in that scholarship by focusing specifically on the oft-overlooked category of the community of Pieds-Noirs.”—Alison Rice, author of Time Signatures: Contextualizing Contemporary Francophone Autobiographical Writing from the Maghreb

Table of Contents

Preface
Acknowledgments
Note on Translations

1. Introduction: Narrative Strategies in Rewriting Algeria

Part 1. Repeat
2. The Pieds-Noirs: Fighting against Forgetting
3. Fixing the Past: Marie Cardinal’s La Mule de corbillard
4. Pleasures of a Painful Past: Writing to Remember, Writing to Forget

Part 2. Return
5. (Re)turning to Algeria: Nostalgia, Imagination, and Writing
6. Real Returns: Confrontation, Blindness, and Ruins
7. The Return of Algeria: Relieving and Sustaining the Phantom Limb

Notes
Bibliography
Index

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