Islam, Ethics, Revolt: Politics and Piety in Francophone West African and Maghreb Narrative

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Lexington Books, 2008 - Literary Criticism - 279 pages
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This book analyzes how Francophone narratives written from the 1950s to the 1990s explore the struggle to craft decolonized forms of Islamic identity within sub-Saharan and North African societies. Considering major narratives by Camara Laye, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, Mariama Ba, Assia Djebar, Rachid Boudjedra, Yambo Ouologuem, and Amadou Kourouma, Donald Wehrs highlights not only the writers' often sharply divergent attitudes toward Islam and varying assessments of possible relations between Islamic selfhood neither uncritical of Western modernity nor unreflectively hostile toward it. In articulating their conceptions of Islamic identity and ethical subjectivity, all of these writers set up a dialogue with the ethical implications of novelistic discourse. The inescapable ethics of affective appeals generated by lived experience are intrinsic to these works, as they are to all novels. When such appeals are put into dialogue with the teachings of Islam, they tend, on the one hand, to privilege its iconoclasm, to make common cause with the self-critical tenor of Islam, its suspicion of the "idol-making" propensity of elites, socio-political orders, and human beings generally. On the other hand, Islam requires novelistic discourse to distinguish ethics from enjoyment, ethical selfhood from unchecked and thus self-deifying and irresponsible autonomy. The privileging of prophetic discourse in Islamic novels illuminates the ethics of novelistic discourse while at the same time forcing it to question such Western idols as freedom as its own justification and material comfort as the central good of social, political life. By pursuing each narrative's engagement with Islam as a form of piety rooted in ethical revolt against egoism and idolatry, the study challenges Western academic postcolonial criticism to hear the evocation of Islamic ethical discourse within fictions addressing the trauma of decolonization in Muslim socio-political contexts."
 

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Contents

Gendering the Subject and Engendering the Self Mande Acculturation Islamic Piety and the Forging of Ethical Identity in Camara Layes L Enfant noir
23
Islamic Ethics Anticolonialism and the Perils of Modernity and Its Repudiation Cheikh Hamidou Kanes L aventure ambiguë
51
Modernity in Revolt against Islam Ouologuems Le devoir de violence and Boudjedras La Répudiation
85
Political Economy Cultural Despair and the Crisis of the Language of Revolt Kouroumas Les soleils des indépendances
125
Incorporating the Female Subject Revolt Despair and Madness in Bâs Un chant écarlate
159
The Sensible the Maternal and the Ethical Grounding of Feminist Islamic Discourse in Djebars L Amour la fantasia and Loin de Médine
185
Requiem and Rebirth The Language of Islamic Ethical Revolt in Djebars Le Blanc de lAlgérie
219
Islamic Ethical Revolt in Historical and Philosophical Context
239
Bibliography
247
Index
269
About the Author
279
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About the author (2008)

Donald Wehrs is associate professor of English at Auburn University.

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