Academic journal article NAWA: Journal of Language and Communication

9. Narrating Juvenile Mental Disorders in Calixthe Beyala's Selected Novels

Academic journal article NAWA: Journal of Language and Communication

9. Narrating Juvenile Mental Disorders in Calixthe Beyala's Selected Novels

Article excerpt


Calixthe Beyala's Biocritical Survey

Calixthe Beyala is a francophone feminist based in the Diaspora. Beyala, a Cameroonian, born in 1961 to poor parents who abandoned her, was brought up by her elder sister in the ghetto of Douala up to the age of seventeen before she left for Spain and later for France to continue her studies. She was married with two children, but now separated. She is engaged in several social and political movements some of which are the committee of the Decade for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World, Collectif Egalite, fight against HIV/AIDS, and promotion of francophonie. Beyala's childhood experience and background in the decadent Cameroon socio-milieu obviously influences her literary career given the scenes painted in her narratives.

A prolific feminist writer, Beyala has published many novels, among which are: C'est le soleil qui m 'a brulee (1987), Tu t'appelleras Tanga (1988); Seul le diable le savait (1990), Maman a un amant in 1994; Asseze l'africaine (1994), La Sonnette (1994), Lettre d'une Africaine a ses saeurs occidentales (1995), Les Honneurs perdus in 1996 (Le Grand prix de l'Academie Francaise in 1996). In 1998, she published La Petite fille du reverbere, Le Petit prince de Belleville (1998). Other literary works to her credit are: Amours sauvages (1999), Comment cuisinier son mari a l'africaine (2000), Lettre d'une Afro-frangaise a ses compatriotes (2000), Les arbres en parlent encore (2002), Femme nue femme noire (2003), La plantation (2005), L 'homme qui m 'offrait le ciel (2007), and Le Roman de Pauline (2009).

Feminism, Freudian Psychoanalysis, and Calixthe Beyala's Radical Feminism

Literary Art

This paper draws on a combination of radical feminist theory and Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory to analyse the neurotic conditions of the protagonists in the selected novels. However, the aspect on the moderating power/function of the ego is downplayed in this paper because it does not have a strong presence in the selected texts.

The approach adopted in this paper reflects the possibility of interdisciplinary approach to the discussion and analysis of Beyala's works centred on the salient issues of tracing the aetiology, symptoms and identification of specific neurotic disorders of oppressed adolescent females. This is a gap identified and intended to be filled by this paper in order to deviate from the traditional or conventional paradigm applied to the study of African feminist texts. This is more so because such traditional and/or conventional approaches hardly provide that window of opportunity to go beyond the simplistic claim that oppressed women, and for the purpose of this study, oppressed adolescent girls, suffer from psychological disorders.

Therefore, the syncretic nature of this presentation gives room for a breakaway from the hegemonic hold of analysing African feminist texts using indigenous African Feminist theories such as Motherism, Stiwanism, Negofeminism, and the like. As a matter of fact, these traditional approaches have become over flogged; it is therefore considered in this paper that a paradigm shift is expedient to prevent the subject of feminist literary criticism from remaining fixed in a coat that no longer fits or in what could be termed "monolithic integrated circuit".

In order to balance the argument, this paper locates Beyala's radical feminism within Nietsche's theory on resentment, which as cited by Hayes (2000) is an attitudinal response of black people to racial oppression. Feminist movement is borne out of resentment of patriarchal oppression. F.W. Hayes III (2000), in his reading of Nietsche's work on resentment, concludes that the character of resentment is an attitudinal response by black people to historical and present conditions of racial oppression. It may therefore be apposite to apply this argument to Beyala's feminist advocacy against patriarchal oppression. …

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