Title

The Other Language, the Language of the Other in the Work of Assia Djebar and Helene Cixous

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

9-2014

Publication Source

Modern Language Notes

Volume

129

Issue

4

Inclusive pages

812-828

DOI

10.1353/mln.2014.0085

Publisher

Johns Hopkins University Press

Place of Publication

Baltimore, MD

ISBN/ISSN

Print ISSN: 0026-7910

Abstract

For both Assia Djebar and Hélène Cixous, the relationship to French, the language in which they primarily write, is a complicated one and linked to familial and social histories. Each of these writers was born in Algeria—Djebar in 1936, Cixous in 1937—and each came to the French language in a way that was determined both by parental decisions and by the politics of the time. Djebar has written extensively, since the publication of L’Amour, la fantasia in 1985, of her father’s decision to have her educated in French, a decision that made her life very different from that of most girls of her background at that time, and has ultimately become a significant factor in her decision to live outside of Algeria. Cixous has written, both in essays and in fiction based on the events of her own life, about her childhood in Algeria, growing up in a multilingual family with a mother whose first language was German, a father whose family spoke Spanish and French, who had her educated in French and whose nationality was, except for the years of Vichy France, French.

Keywords

Assia Djebar, Helene Cixous, French language, identity, Algeria, criticism, interpretation

Disciplines

French and Francophone Language and Literature

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