25 / 2007
Neža Florjančič

The question of identity in Magreb literatur

The Magreb literature has developed as late as after World War II; its origin is linked with the end of colonial regimes. The authors of the Magreb literature write predominantly in French language, live between Magreb and France, and are designated by both cultures. From the literary-historical viewpoint, we can divide the Magreb literature into three periods. The novels of the first period (1954-1968) are denoted by the struggle for the liberation of Algeria from the French power, and by nationalist tendencies (Assia Djebar, Mouloud Mammeri). Novels published in the years 1968-1980 are dealing mainly with existential issues; the trend of poetised, non-linear prose also occurs of which most known author is Tahar Ben Jelloun with his first book Haruda. After 1980, the Magreb novel becomes politically and socially critical and returns to traditional narrative. In the last two decades, female authors who want to show the European and the traditional Arab societies they have had enough of silence and that they want to take active part in forming important social, political and religious issues have variegated the Magreb literature with a form of documentary narrative. One of the frequent thematic of the modern Magreb novel is migrations with which the problems of marginality and loss, search and transfer of identity are linked. As dichotomy between female and male writing is characteristic of the Magreb society, I destined the central part of the contribution to a synoptic analysis of the Magreb literature through the prism of both genders. At selection I have considered authors that are torn between the both their homelands and those of their works that deal with, for the purpose of this article, significant themes: migrations, multiplicity of identities, differentiation between genders. The contribution deals with the works of the Moroccan poet and writer Tahar Ben Jelloun, a representative of the so-called male prose, with his last novel in particular. The work is dedicated entirely to the phenomenon of the emigration of Africans to Europe and to Spain in particular. In Europe, a better life does not await Ben Jelloun’s heroes but moral and personal decline and loss of identity. The so-called female prose, which I illuminate in the article by female authors Assja Djebar, Leila, and Nedjma, also deals with the search for identity and aims at having a cathartic and rousing role in the liberation of women from the patriarchal regulation of the Islamic traditional society, of which devastative tentacles catch young women of even the second and third generations of Arab immigrants in Europe. For a better understanding of this literature, I considered necessary the illumination of the social-political background of female problematic. A synoptic motive-thematic analysis of chosen works of modern Magreb male and female authors results in a conclusion that the two writings are similar above all by being torn between the two homelands, their cultures and religions, and that their heroes are not the carriers of multiple identities but of a single one, the identity of migrations.