The Author as Cannibal


The Author as Cannibal

Rewriting in Francophone Literature as a Postcolonial Genre, 1969–1995

Felisa Vergara Reynolds

288 pages
1 photograph, 4 illustrations, 1 appendix, index


January 2022


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eBook (PDF)
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January 2022


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About the Book

In the first decades after the end of French rule, Francophone authors engaged in an exercise of rewriting narratives from the colonial literary canon. In The Author as Cannibal, Felisa Vergara Reynolds presents these textual revisions as figurative acts of cannibalism and examines how these literary cannibalizations critique colonialism and its legacy in each author’s homeland. Reynolds focuses on four representative texts: Une tempête (1969) by Aimé Césaire, Le temps de Tamango (1981) by Boubacar Boris Diop, L’amour, la fantasia (1985) by Assia Djebar, and La migration des coeurs (1995) by Maryse Condé. Though written independently in Africa and the Caribbean, these texts all combine critical adaptation with creative destruction in an attempt to eradicate the social, political, cultural, and linguistic remnants of colonization long after independence.

The Author as Cannibal situates these works within Francophone studies, showing that the extent of their postcolonial critique is better understood when they are considered collectively. Crucial to the book are two interviews with Maryse Condé, which provide great insight on literary cannibalism. By foregrounding thematic concerns and writing strategies in these texts, Reynolds shows how these rewritings are an underappreciated collective form of protest and resistance for Francophone authors.


Author Bio

Felisa Vergara Reynolds is an assistant professor of French at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.


“Felisa Vergara Reynolds sheds an exciting light on Francophone literature. Her work brilliantly displays the common movement originated by authors who subvert the colonial lens by using its codes and transform them into the tools of its critique.”—Rokhaya Diallo, French journalist, writer, filmmaker, and activist for racial, gender, and religious equality


“Felisa Vergara Reynolds’s impressive postcolonial reading of the author as cannibal strategically locates literary rewriting as a political form of protest, resistance, and reappropriation. . . . From rewriting and reclaiming the historical record to the inscription of subjectivity through the privileging of formerly marginalized perspectives to reversing the power dynamic intrinsic to the Eurocentric gaze, Reynolds peels back the veil of colonial ‘camouflage’—with its histories of domination, exclusion, and misrepresentation—to denounce colonial authoritarianism and reveal a set of counternarratives that imbue the formerly colonized with agency and the right to self-representation.”—H. Adlai Murdoch, author of Creolizing the Metropole: Migrant Caribbean Identities in Literature and Film

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Introduction: “Almost the Same, but Not Quite” / “Almost the Same, but Not White”; or, The Author as Cannibal
1. Aimé Césaire’s Une tempête, Cannibalizing Shakespeare’s The Tempest; or, Who’s Laughing Now?
2. Boubacar Boris Diop’s Le temps de Tamango, a Postmodern Cannibalization; or, Penetrating “Fortress Europe”
3. Assia Djebar’s L’amour, la fantasia, a Historiographic Cannibalization; or, Dismantling/Decolonizing History
4. Maryse Condé’s La migration des cœurs, Cannibalizing Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; or, a Sublime Phagocytosis
Conclusion: The Future of Literary Cannibalism; or, Addressing the Lingering Questions
Appendix: Interviews with Maryse Condé

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