Scattered Letters

Translingual Poetics in Assia Djebar’s L’Amour, la fantasia

In: Philological Encounters
Michael Allan University of Oregon

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In Assia Djebar’s L’amour, la fantasia, the narrator describes the linguistic resonance of her mother’s claim that her daughter “reads”—by which she implies, via Arabic, that her daughter studies. The circularity of an Arabic expression spoken in French makes the scene both descriptive and performative of the sorts of migrations, displacements and appropriations at play in this Algerian novel. In what language ought such multilingual work be read? By looking at inter and intra-lingual travels, this article emphasizes slippages between texts and readers, French and Arabic, and postcolonial and world literature. We encounter here less a lingua franca—that is, a global French or francophone framework—than we do the fundamental instability of any particular language in this internally translating text that travels from French to Arabic and ultimately into a market for readers in other languages.

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