Algeria, Land of Conflicts and Reconciliations: A Literary Approach to Understanding Algeria, Past and Present

Professor Anne-Marie Gronhovd
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In this work, Algeria is presented as a land of conflicts and reconciliations, with a novel of Hélène Cixous, Les rêveries de la femme sauvage (2000), and a short story of Albert Camus, L’hôte (1957). Jean Daniel’s Oeuvres autobiographiques (2002) provides the theoretical foundation. Daniel offers a history of colonized Algeria as a land of adoption for Jewish, Arabo-Islamic and above all Christian communities among which resonated echoes of an ambiguous sense of belonging. Several sons and daughters of French and Spanish colonizers never, or too late, understood, that their condition of exile could be applied to native Algerians as well. And the conflicted definition of equality, which preoccupied well-intentioned French thinkers such as Camus and Daniel, among others, was an example of this ambiguity. They desired equality for Algerians but never put it into the context of Muslim society.

In her novel, Hélène Cixous dedicates several pages to the distressing tentative to settle successfully on a native land in colonized territory. And when we learn that her father, a Jewish French doctor, lost his position at the hospital of Oran because he was a Jew, we turn another page of French History in Algeria. The French Christian community did not seem to integrate Jews better than it did Muslims in its systematic occupation of Algeria. Albert Camus’ L’hôte translates the author’s growing anguish about the future of Algeria. After more than a century, colonization has ravaged the country virulently, and the promise of an Algerian sovereign nation remained an illusion. There was for Camus an Algerian homeland and two peoples passionately rooted in it, and he could not see an Algeria uniquely Arab. L’hôte expresses this dilemma in the midst of the insurrection of Algerian resistance groups. This study concludes with an overview of the present situation in Algeria following its ravaging civil war of the nineties.

Keywords: Algeria, Conflicts and Reconciliations, Literary Approach, Hélène Cixous, Albert Camus
Stream: Literature, Literary Studies
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Professor Anne-Marie Gronhovd

Professor of French, Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Gustavus Adolphus College

I am Professor of French at Gustavus Adolphus College, where I teach courses in the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures. I also teach courses in French and Québécois Women Writers in the Interdisciplinary Program of Women’s Studies. My research interests include the works of Marcel Proust with an emphasis on Michel Foucault’s work on History of Sexuality; and more recently, research on exile and the land of Algeria: an analysis of French Algerian authors, Marcel Camus, Hélène Cixous and Jean Daniel, their dilemmas facing the political transformations of Algeria, and the influence this Mediterranean land had on their identity. I have published a book titled Du côté de la sexualité. Proust, Yourcenar et Tournier. XYZ éditeur, Montréal, Canada. March 2004. I have contributed articles in European and American Journals (Romanic Review among others), and book essays. I write book reviews for The French Review and The European Legacy, Toward New Paradigms.

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