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'An unfinished death': the legacy of Albert Camus and the work of textual memory in contemporary European and Algerian literatures

By Debra Kelly

Abstract

After a consideration of the prevalence of the notions of haunting in recent literary and cultural analysis, the work of Assia Djebar is taken as an example of contemporary Algerian literature in which memories of the dead haunt the living, sometimes in the form of ghosts. Djebar's meditations on Camus and on his unfinished text Le Premier Homme, provide a starting point for an analysis of Camus's legacy in contemporary European and Algerian literatures. It is argued that much recent reading, informed by postcolonial theory, accusing Camus of mythologizing both himself and 'French Algeria' has not engaged fully with literary practice and the work of textual memory. Le Premier Homme is neither a 'mythologizing' text, nor a surrender to nostalgia, but a text of mourning and loss written in the full knowledge of the consequences of the war of independence. The article ends with an analysis of how Camus, in the form of the 'phantom', the 'phantasm' and the 'fantast', appears in the work of two other women writers in addition to that of Assia Djebar, the Algerian Maissa Bey, and the French-Algerian Nina Bouraoui, showing how knowledge concerning the realities of the postcolonial world are to be found in its imaginative exploration

Topics: UOW10
OAI identifier: oai:westminsterresearch.wmin.ac.uk:4181
Provided by: WestminsterResearch

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