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Authors: Williams, Shani
Advisors: Benhaim, Andre
Nesbitt, F. Nick
Department: French and Italian
Class Year: 2019
Abstract: This thesis assesses René Maran’s 1921 edition of Batouala from a literary point of view, taking into account the historical, political and social contexts which coincide with the examination of the work’s literary merits. It posits that the polemic debate excited by the novel’s controversial Préface, which has conditioned a near-universal dismissal of the text by claiming disjunction between the Préface and the novel, is symptomatic of dichotomous, racist, colonial thinking. A new reading of the novel through the lens of cultural hybridity demonstrates how Maran’s hybrid identity allowed him to appropriate the French language (previously used to denigrate l’être noir) and transform it into one that racially uplifts. Though this transformation is more overt in the Préface than the novel, the novel nevertheless demonstrates Maran’s rejection of the notion of a univocal colonial truth by establishing African histories and traditions as another existing truth. By incorporating the voice of the silenced into the dominant discourse, Maran returns agency to an oppressed group and establishes Batouala as a pacesetter for later Negritude writings.
Access Restrictions: Walk-in Access. This thesis can only be viewed on computer terminals at the Mudd Manuscript Library.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:French and Italian, 2002-2023

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