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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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The End of the Chimera: Disillusion, Alienation and Ambivalence

The End of the Chimera: Disillusion, Alienation and Ambivalence

(p.188) 7 The End of the Chimera: Disillusion, Alienation and Ambivalence

Zahia Smail Salhi

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter argues that the 8 May 1945 massacre is the direct impetus behind the 1954 Algerian revolution. It is a major game changer in the rapport between the Algerian intelligentsia and the Occident resulting in a political divorce, which engendered an important volume of literature that recorded the painful birth of a nation painfully tearing itself from the domination of another. Caught between the traumas of yesterday’s colonial night, and the uncertainties of tomorrow, the expression of these anxieties produced literary accounts of high value. Their themes varied from a narrative of alienation, to rebellion against colonial injustice, a questioning of decolonisation and imperialism, a revolt against social prejudice, and most importantly an endless search for identity, and an account of the East-West encounter demonstrating all the while that the other of the Maghrebi novel is the Occident. While decolonisation often meant a repudiation of everything brought by the ex-coloniser including its language, this position tended to lose its intensity as the ex-colonised came to realise the eternal dichotomy between two Occidents: the Occident as a colonial power which is now defeated, and the Occident as a culture and a civilisation which continues to captivate and enchant the Maghrebi person.

Keywords:   8 May 1945, Algerian revolution, political divorce, trauma, colonial night, alienation, rebellion, decolonisation

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