Francophone Literatures: An Introductory Survey

Francophone Literatures: An Introductory Survey

Francophone Literatures: An Introductory Survey

Francophone Literatures: An Introductory Survey

Synopsis

The canon of French literature has been the subject of much debate and now increasingly francophone literatures are demanding more attention in student French literature courses. The first study in English of francophone literatures, this book introduces the diverse bodies of texts in French from the numerous French-speaking areas around the world, with separate sections covering Africa, French Canada, the Creole Islands, and Europe, and will provide students at both undergraduate and 'A' level with a comprehensive introductory survey of the subject. Francophone literatures emerge from rich bi- and multi-lingual cultures in part as colonial legacies. They also challenge the monopoly of the French literary tradition. This introductory survey celebrates the linguistic difference of such texts and the creative possibilities offered by deviance from an established tradition, demanding new critical approaches. The texts studied here cast a new light upon French literature in terms of their diverse perspectives upon writing, history, politics, and culture, their violent rewritings, subversive versions and parodies sometimes forming an elaborate pastiche of celebrated French texts. Guides to further reading, a select bibliography, and an extensive index combine to make the book an extremely readable introductory overview of a hitherto little explored area.

Excerpt

Belgium is as artificial a country as any, made up of three distinct areas. Two of the three, Wallonia and Flanders, were united in 1830, with Brussels as the capital. In 1920 the German-speaking cantons in the east were also added. A monarchy, a parliament, and a constitution were adopted. Most areas of Belgium are at least bilingual. In the north, Flemish and Dutch are spoken; in the east, French and German. In Brussels all three languages are spoken and a dialect -- in which a written literature also exists -- la brusselaire. The practical difficulties of Belgian multilingualism have allowed for the increasing use of English, particularly in international organizations and businesses.

The relatively recent date of the country's birth, the complexities and artificiality of its being, the multiplicities of multilingualism, no doubt account at least in part for a certain lack of confidence and an attitude of profound intellectual and political scepticism. Belgian writers tend to look beyond their own country both for a literary tradition into which to be grafted and for an audience; or their identity tends to be defined not in terms of their status as Belgians, but rather in their opposition and refusal of French assimilation. In either case, however, most francophone writers publish in Paris as there are few major literary publishing houses in Belgium and a Parisian readership is often more readily accessible than an audience at home; most Flemish writers, correspondingly, are published in Amsterdam.

Many francophone Belgian writers are not concerned to belong to a Belgian tradition but this does not, of course, mean that their writing will necessarily be straightforwardly French. To deny the Belgian dimension of the writings of Michaux, Norge, Beck . . .

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