Journal, 1955-1962: Reflections on the French-Algerian War

By Mouloud Feraoun; James D. Le Sueur et al. | Go to book overview

Introduction

The French-Algerian war was probably the most violent anticolonial war of the twentieth century. For seven of eight years, Mouloud Feraoun kept a journal of this conflict, which began on November 1, 1954, and ended on March 18, 1962. As a personal record of the war, Feraoun’s Journal—here published for the first time in English—is a shocking, firsthand account of France’s bitter and long overdue withdrawal from its most prized colonial possession, Algeria. 1 The protracted decolonization of French Algeria is not a pleasant story, and Feraoun’s depiction of it requires sensitivity on the part of the reader. This is no doubt the case because the Journal’s candor and honesty was meant to represent the war as Feraoun saw it, without illusions and without self-censorship. Feraoun believed that this was the only way to affect future generations in Algeria, North Africa, France, and the world. Feraoun, as an intellectual and a writer, certainly understood the importance of honestly capturing the war from the inside, from personal experience, and he noted the ethics of such a recording toward the end of his Journal on August 17, 1961, less than a year before his murder:

I have spent hours upon hours rereading all my notes,
newspaper articles, and small clippings that I have kept. I
have become reimmersed in a sad past, and I am leaving it
overwhelmed. I am frightened by my candor, my audacity,
my cruelty, and, at times, my blind spots and prejudice.
Do I have a right to tamper with what I have written, to
go back, to alter or rectify it?

Did I not write all of this day by day, according to
my frame of mind, my mood, the circumstances, the atmo-
sphere created by the event, its reverberations in my heart?
And why did I write it like this, bit by bit, if it was not to
witness, to stand before the world and shout out the suffer-
ing and misfortune that have stalked me? Granted, I was
very awkward and headstrong the day when I decided to
write. Whom do I know that would have been willing to
do it in my place? And would I have been able to remain
blind and deaf just to silence myself, just to avoid the risk
of being suffocated by my anger and despair? Now that it
is done, now that everything has been recorded—good or

-ix-

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Journal, 1955-1962: Reflections on the French-Algerian War
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Editor’s Acknowledgments vi
  • Translators’ Preface vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Preface to the Original French Edition xlix
  • 1955 11
  • 1956 51
  • 1957 165
  • 1958 235
  • 1959 261
  • 1960 271
  • 1961 287
  • 1962 309
  • Notes 317
  • Glossary 335
  • Index 337
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