Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Journey toward Independence

By Noakes, Greg | Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, July 1991 | Go to article overview

Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Journey toward Independence


Noakes, Greg, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs


By Leila Abouzeid. University of Texas, 1989. 103 pp. List: $8.95; AET: $6.95 for one, $8.95 for two.

Contemporary Moroccan fiction is both vibrant and varied. It is a young literature, still in the process of testing boundaries and searching for its voice. At one end of the spectrum there are the consciously literary novels of authors working in French, including Driss Chraibi, Abdelhak Serhane and Tahar Ben Jelloun, winner of the prestigious Prix Goncourt.

At the other end there is the group of writers and storytellers like Mohammed Mrabet and Mohammed Choukri, whose works have been translated from Arabic into English by the American expatriate author Paul Bowles. Their narratives stem directly from Morocco's rich oral tradition, and indeed are often recorded and then transcribed rather than written. Apart from differences in language and methodology, Moroccan literature also encompasses a wide variety of aesthetics, from Ben Jelloun's dreamlike tales to the sharp and cynical styles of Chraibi and Serhane and the colorful depictions of the seedier side of life in Tangier and the Rif by Mrabet et al.

Yet there are also a number of common themes. Moroccan writers often employ the character of a storyteller or a first-person narrator to relate the events of their stories, and there has also been a tendency to use the struggle for Moroccan independence and its aftermath as a setting for these narratives.

This is the context in which Leila Abouzeid writes. Her Year of the Elephant also uses a first-person narrator and focuses on the period surrounding independence, but in many ways the work is unique among the growing body of Maghrebi literature in translation. Year of the Elephant is the first novel by a Moroccan woman to be translated from Arabic to English, and thus provides readers with a different vantage point from which to view North African life. Many of the events of Abouzeid's narrative (divorce, the struggle against poverty, interfamilial conflict, etc.) are common themes in contemporary Moroccan literature, but are presented here in a new perspective -- that of a woman.

A New Perspective

The story is told from the point of view of Zahra, the protagonist. After independence, Zahra's husband, now rising through the ranks of government bureaucracy, no longer wishes to be married to his traditional wife, who does not speak French, eat with a fork, or sit with men.

Cast out of her husband's house and with no real family to fall back on, Zahra is forced to fend for herself with only the single room that is her inheritance and "whatever the law provides" from her husband. She returns to her home town and finds comfort and solace in religious values and in the person of an old and learned sheikh. Gradually she manages to construct an independent life for herself on her own terms. Within the framework of describing the divorce, Zahra relates episodes from her childhood, her marriage, and the struggle for independence, during which she assumed an activist role. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Year of the Elephant: A Moroccan Woman's Journey toward Independence
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.