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OccidentalismLiterary Representations of the Maghrebi Experience of the East-West Encounter$
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Zahia Smail Salhi

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780748645800

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748645800.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 24 September 2021

‘La France, c’est moi’:1 Love and Infatuation with the Occident

‘La France, c’est moi’:1 Love and Infatuation with the Occident

(p.93) 4 ‘La France, c’est moi’:1 Love and Infatuation with the Occident

Zahia Smail Salhi

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter studies three representative novels that voice their authors’ fascination with the Occident and desire to see their people become part of the civilised world. Although these novels are guided by their authors’ unbending belief in France’s civilising mission, the social ills they depict invite the readers’ doubts of this view. Whether they were fully assimilated to the point of converting to Christianity (Chukri Khodja’s Mamoun: L’Ebauche d’un idéal), or partially assimilated by remaining Muslim while indulging in the vice of drinking alcohol and mixing with bad Europeans (Abdelkader Hadj Hamou’s Zohra la femme du mineur), the main characters in these novels have not been saved from their ‘barbarity’; one way or another, they all meet a tragic end. In contrast however, Mohammed Ould Cheikh’s Myriem dans les Palmes heralds a new era where through mixed marriages and the fusion of the French and Maghrebi races peace prevails at last, reflecting of course the author’s utopic dream as promoted by the French civilising mission. Furthermore, this chapter demonstrates that the discussed novels offer significant instances of self-exoticism and a faithful adoption of the Orientalist tropes providing thus much needed clichés to the authors’ targeted Occidental readers.

Keywords:   Chukri Khodja, Abdelkader Hadj Hamou, Mohammed Ould Cheikh, Mamoun: L’Ebauche d’un ideal, Zohra la femme du mineur, Myriem dans les Palmes, Self-exoticism, civilising mission, assimilation

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