Against Autobiography


Against Autobiography

Albert Memmi and the Production of Theory

Lia Nicole Brozgal

256 pages


December 2013


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eBook (EPUB)
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August 2018


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eBook (PDF)
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December 2013


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About the Book

The work of Tunisian Jewish intellectual Albert Memmi, like that of many francophone Maghrebian writers, is often read as thinly veiled autobiography. Questioning the prevailing body of criticism, which continues this interpretation of most fiction produced by francophone North African writers, Lia Nicole Brozgal shows how such interpretations of Memmi’s texts obscure their not inconsiderable theoretical possibilities.

Calling attention to the ambiguous status of autobiographical discursive and textual elements in Memmi’s work, Brozgal shifts the focus from the author to theoretical questions. Against Autobiography places Memmi’s writing and thought in dialogue with several major critical shifts in the late twentieth-century literary and cultural landscape. These shifts include the crisis of the authorial subject; the interrogation of the form of the novel; the resistance to the hegemony of vision; and the critique of colonialism. Showing how Memmi’s novels and essays produce theories that resonate both within and beyond their original contexts, Brozgal argues for allowing works of francophone Maghrebi literature to be read as complex literary objects, that is, not simply as ethnographic curios but as generating elements of literary theory on their own terms.

Author Bio

Lia Nicole Brozgal is an assistant professor of French and francophone studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her articles have appeared in Contemporary French Civilization, French Studies, and French Forum.


"This is an important contribution to francophone studies."—Edward Kaplan, French Forum

Against Autobiography immediately establishes its author as one of the world’s foremost authorities in the field.”—Peter Schulman, author of The Sunday of Fiction: The Modern French Eccentric


Table of Contents

1. Of Authors and Archives: Albert Memmi's Francophone Postcolonial
2. Writing Back to Whom? Novel Strategies of Ambiguity and the "Mark of the Plural"
3. Writing without Seeing: The Enigmas of Memmi's "Denigration of Vision"
4. From Colonizer and Colonized to Decolonization and the Decolonized: Texts, Contexts, Paratexts
Continuations: Albert Memmi in the Post-Francophone World
Works Cited

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