Aux sources inaltérables de la joie (French Edition)


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Letter 2: Olivier-Georges Destrée to Laurence Binyon

The verses are charming, but to my mind what you like so much about her is mainly your love for Devonshire landscapes. What I mean is that you project yourself a little in your reading. Also reread London Nights. The 1st poem August — The Escape are very good the Impressions are also suggestive of light and especially London noise or any other big city. Regards You must come at least for 8 days on the 20th. I suppose you are referring to a specific type of "Lyric" — because in the Golden Treasury that you gave me there are, if I am not mistaken, three parts — first those very poets of the time of Elizabeth — then a second part in which Blake is in himself but in which others who were there before him have also written "Lyrics".

And then have not Dryden and Milton, who came after Elizabeth and before Blake also written "Lyrics"? There is here something that my ignorance of English poetry does not permit me to understand. If it does not exist you will explain it to me when you come but what I would like for the time being is, if you can spare the time, for you to leaf through a Blake collection and find one or two beautiful poems 2nd card or poem excerpts somewhere in his work. I translated yesterday - tiger tiger — a cradle song. It is very good. But as you can understand poems lose a lot of their quality in French and it is rather unsatisfactory!

I should not have asked you to copy them in poems. I will endeavour to include one or two verses from Thyrsis and the Scholar Gipsy in my literary notice — I have now finished Byron. Landor very good translation! Swinburne and Shelley almost. I would like to have finished all my translations for your arrival so we can go over them together — or at least some passages together and we can discuss the notices that I still need to write.

The preface is all I want. If you see Johnson tell him that his mysterious and wild bardic Friend Yeats ought to send me, not his large book on Blake — but a study, an essay as he is sure to have written one and as he - Yeats- promised me once to do.

You begin to understand quite well what a good thing is a postcard and the lot you can write on it. Everything you have told me about Blake is clear and you include Dryden and Milton in the Elizabethans — and if you put Burns aside — then I understand very well without any other explanation what you were telling me. If I ask for an essay on Blake it is to have details about these literary works.


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Rest assured, our holidays will not be compromised by the inspection of my work. Everything will be settled for it to be over — for our discussions it is another thing and while we stroll and eat and smoke I will interview you about the Lyrists but you like them well enough for it to be pleasant for you.

Then I will review the whole — annotate it and I will wait for our discussions before I write my critical notices. As you speak so clearly about Blake, could you give me an explicit, precise and conclusive definition of a lyrist — it is difficult to say because Browning who has written drama is not a lyrist. Aeschylus, Shakespeare, through their dramas only are lyrists. What is a lyrist? I eagerly anticipate your next p. But what is this new book you are speaking of — the one you are writing at Florence.

You can congratulate him on my behalf if he still remembers me. If you are happy with what you have seen I am certainly as happy to have seen it again with you and that my two favourite parts of Belgium, the pious and silent Bruges and the Meuse which I refrain from commenting upon, in deference to your poem — that I will delight in reading pleased you and inspired you with poems.

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When you come back to Bruges bring it along, we will read it as we go in a canoe along one of the sleeping canals. The book — very gorgeous — I received yesterday is perfect and will be very useful to me — if you would be kind enough when you are at the British to copy out the notices relevant to — Bowning, Arnold, and Christina it would be perfect — what I mean by notices — only 4 or 5 lines of biographical information — for those 3 poets — with the notices I have concerning them — it will be more than enough.

I have already written to Seeley — I told him we were in Bruges together — that you had hired! I have also sent a little poem — a bad one — to the Pall Mall G[azette] and I have resumed work today thanks to your book — very happy with my holidays and thanking you most sincerely for having come. And even E. Oft in the stilly night E. Parental recollections Hood I remember I remember — The death bed. That is definitely all now.

I am happy I added these names because Campbell, Moore, Lamb, Wolfe and Hood deserve to be there and it is complete from the point of view of the public with the addition of Scott, E. Do read in the same Heroic line the poem by V. Do not read anything else in the volume — apart from the Chevaliers Errants. Regards O. The poem you have sent me is very beautiful and I would translate it easily if I could include you in my anthology — but it will be for another edition — in which I will be both pleased and proud to give you a central stand.

I wished for the dedication you gave me — I am very happy to have it and send you my most heartfelt thanks. And Coronach, which is the best verse of all — I did not translate it because I do not know what Coronach means and what it has to do with Duncan. I wrote half of my preface yesterday and hope to have finished it by today or tomorrow — that was the most difficult — the notices will go quickly and I am finally able to catch my breath.

The weather is more beautiful since 2 days. I will resume my sonnet! Impossible to put everything on a single card! I wanted to tell you that I cannot go to London because I have neither time nor money — and especially not time — the anthology is a useful volume though it is but a hobby — I will not be happy until I have finished it. It is my poem that I will resume as soon as the anthology is done — but I was thinking this morning that we should nonetheless see each other more often — and we could do it if not every month at least every other month for a day.

According to the guide a train leaves Charing Cross at 5. So as soon as you can write to me and I will go to Bruges — when we will have had enough of Bruges — we could go to the sea — and we could also see each other more often by each going half the way towards the other. The 2 addresses are Mlle Evrard 12 etc. Marcinelle — Charleroi. Thank you very much. And finally, thank you for the biographies — when you will have sent me the six proper lines on Christina you shall be free!

Regards to H[erbert]P[ercy]H[orne] X. Before anything else let me congratulate you on your red ink — quite beautiful and do tell me where it came from when you write next — thank you for the biographies and the indications I asked for. I will translate Coronach and Donuil Dhu. The announcement of a photograph of Rossetti is a fascinating thing to me — I still admire him immensely — and no modern painter has yet matched those feelings. I will write to Jackson as soon as I receive it. I suppose you have seen Seeley? And that he has told you that he would write to me what he did write, that is that Bruges would not be a success — it has troubled me — and somewhat compromised my voyage to Italy — but not in the least discouraged — I have nearly finished writing the preface I was worrying about — the notices will go fast and I can then go back to my poem.

I read all day today a large biography on Emily B. When I next go out I will send it. Oct 5 Thank you for the journals and indications about Morris. We agree about what you say of him as a poet and on the pieces that should be translated. I want to write this article because what I loved? I will send you the article when it is published. About what you tell me of Mr.

So if Mr Garnett would be kind enough to write a letter of introduction for me for Mr Angellier I will write or call on him to ask if there is a way I could reach Hachette — and if not Hachette another — please thank Mr Garnett on my behalf and believe me, dear friend — yours eternally grateful — thank you for Seeley as well of course and do not worry anymore.

I have received the beautiful Shoolbread Miss Evrard is "aux anges" a pretty expression which you do not have [in English] and is very grateful to you. And thank you very much for it. I had not written to acknowledge receipt of your postcard because it said "Garnett is writing" so I waited from day to day to tell you at the same time that I received the letter. I have been very busy all week writing my article on Morris for the next issue of the Mercure de France it is only half done but I hope to have finished by tomorrow or Monday and I am rather pleased about it.

I will write to Angellier as soon as I have finished the article that they are expecting at the Mercure and I have already written to Mr Garnett to thank him. Next week I will resume my preface that I have rewritten — because I would like to explain two things — how the taste for English literature came to France 2. The main differences between the two poems. It has never been properly explained and is not an easy task. Thus I presume that I will only have finished the anthology by the end of the month.

And you, what have you been up to and why are you so "hurried"? Thank you for the ink and maple. Dunque let me first answer your card. Angellier I will write to him this morning — I went to see his two books on Burns at the library yesterday. The work is remarkably well done exhaustive and well written. I had found … address on his book thank you. Pierrot lunaire. Lemerre Paris Pierrot narcisse. His collection is one of the best collections of prose poems that I know.

He has only sold three! I think. Is very ill. And to know that the British has accepted his book would be for him a little pleasure I would be glad to have contributed to — I have written a good article — better at least than those on him that I have seen — for the next Mercure de France. There will be a special issue I think. I will probably add one or two beautiful poems by Morris — translated — and some reproductions … to his work that will make for an amusing "presentation". I have read the Saturday Review and the Athenaeum at the Library without finding the article mentioned by H[erbert]P[ercy]H[orne] which I found amusing as it made me believe that once again it had come too late!

With my warmest regards. It would be amusing yet also baffling this correspondence with a deceased person. I suppose that in a few days or a few weeks the French post will send me back my letters but what seems certain is that this mischievous man is not in Lille anymore and I do not know where to find out his address.

Has his volume of sonnets been published after the "Burns"? If it has I could in that case write to the address that you gave me, but I think his volume of sonnets was published before. Would you believe it my dear friend — I am ashamed to say so — that I will not have finished my volume until the end of the month! I was held up by my article on Morris which appeared in the last issue of the Mercure and that I will send on although it will not be very interesting to you.

That one is very well done. I summarized well the postcards you sent me about him and after having thought about the Macmillan books that I recommend in my volume I wrote to him to ask if he deems it appropriate to send me the 4 volumes by Humphrey Ward? And with the explanations that I gave him I believe he will send them and I will then be able to send yours back after having kept it for so long. I saw again a volume today that I think is very well done — by a Florentine poet - Domenico Tumiati. I thought I would give you both pleasure by asking him to send you this interesting and poetically inspired volume — and by promising that you would mention it or would have it mentioned by the Saturday Review.

So if you are not doing artistic books for the Saturday look through the volume when you get it — then send it on — and recommend it please — to the editor of the Saturday Review — and if possible when ours will have come out — send it please to Domenico Tumiati-Ferrara. I realize that I have forgotten to tell you that the topic of the volume is our dear friend "Fra Angelico" I read yesterday some prose translated by Lamb - The South Sea House and Oxford in the Vacation, it is exquisite. As soon as I go out I will buy the Tauchnitz that is about him to read it in English and make him a "good" notice.

And you my dear friend, what have you been doing. I hope you will also need two cards to tell me about it and I send you my warmest regards. Could we not meet at Bruges at Xmas? I have asked the author of "Fra A. Cantagalli 1 via Michele di Lando. And now, listen — if I wrote a clear and detailed letter to Garnett explaining in detail the content of the volume either Garnett or Colvin do you think one of them might recommend me to Hachette?

I also think as my Parisian friend does that the recommendation of a director of the British would have more weight than that of Angellier — supposing he would answer, which seems unlikely. Please advise me on what you deem is the best thing to do. If Garnett is surprised because Angellier has not answered tell him I am all the more puzzled — because I had naturally written a particularly cordial letter to Ang. If you think that it is too complicated, do say so freely because I am starting to think that the best thing to do would be to take a train at the end of the month and explain myself to Hachette without further ado.

He asks me to send my notebook on Keats that I had offered to send him so he could look at my translations. I will send it to him tomorrow and suggest to go and see him on Sunday to show him all of my work. I hope it will work out but I do not dare speak of when I will be through with my notices as they each take a day or two to finish. And I still have 12 to do!

Would you please thank Mr Garnett on my behalf for his kind suggestion of an introduction to Beljame Angellier is evidently better. I will write myself to Garnett to thank him as soon as something is arranged - your Praise of Life is most welcome. I envy you and beg you to forgive me if I do not write anymore today as I am weighed down considerably by all these notices I still have to do. Regards, and till next week. Thank you for your card.

The arrangements for Italy are perfect and I hope we will be able to tour Tuscany together. I am not really concerned about it though because I must before anything else finish my notices and my preface and I will be busy at it until Dec You would be most kind and extremely patient as well for how much information have I not asked from you!

If you could give me a little more information about Christina Rossetti and Swinburne. One postcard for each would be perfect. But you have time to do so at your convenience because they are the two last poets I will do and I will not need the information for another eight or ten days. I am very curious to see your woodcuts because it is the only kind of sculpting that I value. Regards and a thousand apologies for disturbing you again with this anthology. PS I do not think any editor would consent to publish the text in English, considering. But I thought that what I could do is to append one or two original short poems to give an idea of their verse.

I was very grateful when I received it — belatedly because of the silly Christmas and New Year disturbances and thank you warmly. I remembered at the same time that I have not yet sent you the strange novel by Barbey which I told you about. Since the 1st of this month my anthology is almost finished and I have resumed my poem on the Wise Men, my progress is very slow but I am very happy to be working at it.

I wrote to Angellier ten days ago to ask him to send me a letter of introduction for Hachette and once again there is no answer. I will wait till the end of this week and then write directly to Hachette. How about you? How far are you on your great poem with the "tousled? Horne says his mother is writing again on Botticini!! I am greatly pleased my dear Laurence that you in turn will lock yourself up for a month for a kind of "anthology" of Norwich poets.

At the end of the month you will sympathise all the more with the great misfortune that befell upon me when I took on this Sisyphean task. Your postcard on Norwich is charming and if I come to England this summer we must go there together as you say — finished, my anthology? Perhaps on the 31st of January will I be rid of it — the camels did not fall in the snow but one of the Wise Men started talking with such loyalty that I simply cannot stop him — he talks at night in the mountains — and every day I must throw more wood over the fire for the people who are listening to him.

If he goes on he will burn every pine tree in the mountains, but I have no more influence over him than Mr Speaker would have on a member of the House of Commons and I am resigned to let him have it his way. Angellier is a pig. He never answered my letters and I have now written to my friend Primoli and expect his reply. It will delay the Rois Mages — and we will thus both be busy at our "great poem" throughout summer. It is really a very good engraving. I do not like the last Strange. But you very cleverly understood the strength and simplicity of the old wood engraving masters.

And between Image and Lamb there is at the very least a difference in hairstyle! Do not send any other edition for Lamb, this one is charming and is quite enough for me. I will read with care the bookmarked sonnets by dear Philip Sidney. If I cannot do it at the moment it is because I must finish my notices, my preface and review everything carefully for the 15th, at which date I must send the manuscript to Hachette. Dear Count Primoli to whom I had written in my distress sent a note to Paris immediately and I received a letter from the director of Hachette last Sunday, informing me that they are very willing to see my anthology — The Tyrol, no.

It is all German there, but I would be delighted to go with Streatfield to Tuscany since he is your friend and I expect you both in Bruges next month. Regards G. And again, my warmest thanks. I was very happy to see him with the clever look of his eyes and the sensuous indolence of his mouth. As for Keats — it is rather a disappointment — we see so little of him and so much of the horrible chair he is leaning against. We must ask Cust to buy it for the National Gallery — but of course I am very grateful to you because I was delighted to see it — and to know what this portrait by Severin that I so much wanted to see looked like.

Yesterday afternoon I read a little of Lamb — Captain Jackson — and amicus redivivus! How funny — I took it last night to my dear Paul Tiberghien so he could admire the fine soft smiling lips — and the eyes - of our dearest Elia and I read Captain Jackson to P Tiberghien and Goffin and they enjoyed it very much. There is only Banville whom I can think of who has written a book of prose so exquisitely witty and charming — but of course with the difference of wit instead of humour.

Could you indicate to me the names of the poets whom Walker has photographed? I will enclose both pictures with the manuscript and send it soon to Hachette. Thank you very much for your kind card. And we will see each other, and in the old town we will talk for the whole of a long expected day. Is my portrait a woodcut — it looks like a lithograph and I think much better than the first print you have done. I think that you are improving very much.

Have you read all the beautiful interviews of king Georgos? I like him very much and hope our friend Ionides and all the keepers of the British are supporting him as much as they can. Ionid: he should lend a boat with voluntary workers and take us to Greece — we could have Image aboard serving as chaplain — and we would be in charge of writing the epic. I am looking again at my portrait — I like it — and thank you very much for it. Do you think that mayer is still able to speak properly any language after having travelled for prints in so many countries?

And I would like to say in our plans. I do not have any money to travel to Italy and I could hardly, even if I borrowed some, leave before April I think it is too late to go to Florence this year. And especially — spring — which came yesterday, is evolving so quickly and so beautifully that I really do not feel like leaving for the South at the moment. With the greening shade of the coppices, buds cracking open at the tip of branches, clusters of blossoming daisies in the lawns, softening skies which sweetly recall all springs past, everything beckons me to stay up North and witness the refreshing sweetness of flourishing spring.

Only I need towns just as you do — and if I remember well we had planned to go to Devonshire and I was wondering if we could spend our holiday there together. What do you think?

Perhaps you would rather go to Florence — if you can do both, go to Florence first on your own, and spare a few days to spend with me in Caerleon, Tintagel and over Lyonesse. We will discuss it at any rate on Saturday evening and Sunday at Bruges and these days Bruges will be gorgeous. Could you not stay till Monday evening? At any rate, unless otherwise instructed, I will be waiting for you on Saturday evening at Write a postcard to tell me it is all fixed. The confirmation of our Cornwall excursion "where Mark is king" and the very pleasant perspective of writing an entertaining book on old Flemish towns.

From what you tell me I think the best thing to do would be to set up a little scheme, with a summary of the chapters, and send it to you when it is done. I will do so and send it to you when I am through. Squire is very pleasant and interesting it is true — but I cannot refrain from considering him a dangerous lunatic — because in our talk he repeatedly said that Florence was "a horrid place"!

I have no news of the anthology yet, but I have many things to tell you — but we will soon be able to talk about them and that will be better. A magazine from here is devoting a special issue to my poems on Saints and this will give me work till the end of the month. And then all will be well! I hope they will take it at the Mercure.

Book Corner 12222

Regards to Streatfield and even Sq[uire] and thank you for your postcard. I was about to write to you, to tell you that Allen could change my scheme however much he wants to. As soon as he writes to me I will let you know what he suggests and would be very happy if "our" scheme would work out. If I am going to Torquay? I will write to my friend today, and I will ask her if she is home during the first days of July and ask her to answer straight back — as soon as I get her reply this week I presume I will write to tell you if I will stop at Torquay or not.

I saw last week some sights of Montenegro. What a beautiful country — and what a beautiful poem you wrote about it, I have read it again since. I thought about you during the whole time of the walk because I am sure you would have enjoyed it very much — with the stagnant water crowded with blooming water lilies gently lapping the walls — and it certainly is beautiful because it makes you neglect the halls and the cathedral despite their splendour — but once you have seen the ramparts there is nowhere else you would rather go. Thank you for the letter about Allen — and do not look for anything else for the time being.

Now about our departure — arrange it yourself — I am not at all keen on seeing the Jubilee — it would be better to go straight to Cornwall. Tell me which day I should come. Must I take my evening dress for our return from Cornwall? Regards, G. I will write in a few days to confirm my arrival time. I will write to my friends to warn them of my coming on the 30th in the evening — two days with them — it is perfect and everything is sorting itself out. And if you walk by an agency with some travel literature on Cornwall please send me some — so I can see for myself — and first on a map — where Ruan and Tintagel are.

Translation of «subversif» into 25 languages

We must gather a collection of marvellous and wonderful legends to animate and glorify the landscapes we will see. Thank you very much for the amusing narration of the Adventures of Alice, I read it with great pleasure — and a special thank you for your so charming letter which was sent at the same time as mine on our birthdays.

For several years now, on the evening of the Saint Laurent I have watched stars shooting across the sky over the large and beautiful garden under my windows. I thought I would do so last night but I got so engrossed and thrilled with a short life of Saint Peter Celestine which I read in the evening that I forgot about everything else. Maybe the life has been published in a booklet since the article was published. If I can find it I will send it to you. Warm regards and see you soon. Thank you for your postcard which I found on my return from Marcinelle where I spent the last week.

On one of the days of the week I went to the old abbey close to Marcinelle that they are restoring. The ruins of the abbey, a beautiful sunshine, and a river running at its feet all made me long to have you at my side. It will be for your next tour of Belgium, and we must think of it soon if as I hope you can come for a few days at the beginning of the autumn. I am glad to know that you liked the photograph of Reims as much as it deserves it — the portal is remarkable and we must see it together. When are you going to Dresde?

Do stay somewhere, be it for a couple of hours only, in Belgium. I received a cordial letter from the director of the Dome for whom I will straight away write an article on ivory sculpting at the Brussels Exposition. Thank you very much for this article! I am starting a project on a new museum of industrial arts which will give me a lot of work but probably has a chance to succeed. My affairs are overall better and I am gaining strength and courage — very happy to hear that you have lost nothing of your productive verve.

I am greatly anticipating reading le Banquet. Tibergh has ordered the apology of Newman from London. We are very intrigued and amused at your great dedication to him. We are hoping to find out why you admire him so much by reading the apology. Matthews told me this morning that he is sending what he owes me.

I had threatened to sue him! Regards to Image and Mayer. When is Mayer coming? The sky is all blue in anticipation and the last two mornings have been dazzling. And the banquet. I am waiting impatiently to sit down and listen to the tales of your guests — P. How amusing it is to read my own letter remarkably improved by your translation, and I thank you most gratefully for all the trouble you have gone through for me once again. I have not much to say to you but I wanted to say directly at least how grateful I am.

Nothing has been decided yet about the anthology, because I am still waiting for the letter from the ministry. They tell me he will certainly answer but the wait is always long. I have better hope for next year in any case. The talk with Image about the bottle of Rum must have been very funny indeed. We will soon go and listen to him at Henekey at this rate, as one use to listen to Coleridge at Hampstead. As soon as the edition of your poems is decided on write to tell me. I am correcting the drafts of poems that will come out for Christmas, I will send them to you then.

I will transcribe the letter to B. Thank you again and send my regards to Image. I will write to Squire one of these days. Regards to Pye as well, I will write to him at Christmas. How much more pleasant and charming it would have been to tell you in person why I did not answer your letter straight away. My dear friend, you well know, and will be neither jealous nor upset, for you know how much this friendship with Paul Tiberghien is longer and prior to ours — that there is no man on earth I love more than him.

Added to the regard that I have had for him for so long I feel a venerable veneration for his life, which is the most devoted, the most loving and the most charitable among all I have observed around me — despite this regard, this genuine veneration, and despite the fact that we have been raised together intellectually, artistically and that we were converted together — despite all that there have often been, as you can imagine, some disagreements between us — disagreements do happen between people who love each other most dearly.

But our friendship was so true and so solidly established that it could only become stronger and firmer after those discussions and transitory disagreements which reasonably occur between two friends who see each other constantly. Was ours of the same nature? The young girl stayed in school, and the language stuck. The crossing over of this woman writer into the world of men and into the world of the colonizer in one step creates a conflict so profound that the narrator of Vaste est la Prison who herself is an author attributes her year-long turning away from writing something that Djebar did as well26 to a collision of tongues within her.

Suddenly one language, one tongue, struck the other inside me. The voice of a woman who could have been my maternal aunt came to shake the tree of my hidden hope. My silent quest for light and shade was thrown off balance, as if I had been exiled from the nurturing shore, orphaned. This reconcil- iation marks the starting point of a new way of considering the relationship between languages, territory, and writing: Algerian literature [.

The third language is that of political power, the most fluid category, which has changed most frequently and most dramatically. The linguistic triangles of Vaste est la Prison are full of hope. They are an attempt to de- politicize language in Algeria and an attempt to regard the comings and goings of language as a natural and thus neutral part of the movement of history. Djebar is saying that the moments of brilliance and true greatness in the history of Algeria are those of cultural and linguistic intersection.

Through a discussion of much more ancient linguistic triangles, Djebar puts the contemporary linguistic—political dualism in context and illustrates how this rivalry is, in fact, a false one and one which completely displaces the third and only ever-present point of the triangle: Berber. But the hope on which Vaste est la Prison is built turns to despair at the end of the novel, when it becomes clear that Algeria is spiraling into self-destruction.

Blood, filled as it is with its many broken tongues, is a different kind of language. One cannot write in blood and maintain a strict separation between the writer and the written, author and narrator. What can we call you now, Algeria! Write how? About flight. About shame. But with blood itself: with its flow, its paste, its spurt, its scab, that is not yet dry?

The dream of an Algeria where one can flow freely between languages, where identity is flexible and not tied down to language, dissipates and is forgotten. Choosing sides has become a necessity, since it is the only way to remain whole. The story takes place in Baghdad, and it tells of a young wife who is pregnant with her fourth child.

Afraid that she will not be able to survive another pregnancy, the woman languishes in her house. The only thing that she desires is apples, which her husband travels 10 days to buy. He returns with three apples worth their weight in gold, which he presents to his beloved wife. The next day he encounters a slave in the market who has an apple.

When asked where he got it, the slave answers that his beloved gave it to him as a token of her love. Upon returning home, the husband confronts his wife, who now has only two apples. Of course, the husband assumes that his wife has been unfaithful. In a fit of rage, he slashes her throat, and cuts her up into pieces. Wrapping her in a gesture that mirrors the dizzying mise-en-abyme of The Thousand Nights and One Night first in a shroud, then in a carpet, he then lays her in a basket, then in a box of olive wood, and tosses her dismembered body into the Tigris River.

Only later does he learn that the slave had stolen the apple from their son, and that his wife had been innocent. She will not. The double doors open wide in a single movement. Atyka is shot in the heart, and then beheaded. A pool of blood spreads on the wood of the table, around her neck. Atyka continues the tale. Once life-saving, it now becomes powerless: or worse, it now turns against the storyteller, becoming the cause of her death.

Stories no longer save their narrator; rather the narrator is killed because of them. There is no question here of an academic distinction between what one writes and what one dies for, between the fictive and its consequences in reality. Language tears its speaking subject apart.


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As Atyka expires, she passes on her own voice, in turn, to the next generation. Her body is gone, he knows, but what happened to her voice? His question is answered when her voice replaces the questions and, in turn, begins to haunt him. White, the gaze of Omar searches it out in order to avoid the words that haunt him, that make him absent, journeying far away in Baghdad of long ago [. In the white city of today and so far from the Tigris, Omar ceaselessly hears Haroun el Rachid, the caliph, in front of the body of the woman in pieces, weeping.

The violence that is pointed to at the very end of Vaste est la Prison has escalated here to its worst and most terrifying point because of its anonymity, unpredictability and lack of center. This language is a private one, and acts as an equalizing force. But in what language? Braj B. Kachru comments on the similar neutralizing power of English in South Asia. He writes: Neutralization [. The borrowed item has referential meaning, but no cultural connotations in the context of the specific culture [.

Second, such use of English develops new code-mixed varieties of languages. Lexicalization from English is particularly preferred in the contexts of kinship, taboo items, science and technology, or in discussing sex organs and death. It creates a level playing field, allowing speakers to step out of origins that complicate their relations. This kind of death slips into the river of our memory like a shiny, flat fish. Whereas the one that arrives in an uproar and in disgorged blood, it knocks us around, violates our sense of time and leaves us quivering.

Two in June 93, the third in March The unalterable white of your presence. The second half of the book is what Djebar calls a procession of Algerian writers who lived in constant proximity to death. The text here changes from a deeply personal anti- elegy to a lament for the death of writing in Algeria. Some died of illness, some accidentally, and others, most recently, were assassinated by fellow Algerians. While the first part of the book is a refusal to let go of the dead, it is clear in this section that these writers are long gone and irretrievable.

The procession is a lament for lost leaders: for Camus, who was the first to experience the colonial war as a civil one, for Fanon, who saw the violence coming and who, more than anyone else, would have been ready to take out his scalpel of lucidity. The presence of death during the s was real, so real that it left few writers journalists, academics, novelists, poets in Algeria. Those who were not killed had little choice but to leave. The evening before his assassination, Mekbel recalled in his journal a conversation that he had had about his own death, speculating where, how and by whom he would be killed.

Go for kill. The word assassinate is for the reader, for his imagination. Over 40 journalists had been killed in the six months leading up to his assassination. I cry too, right afterwards, troubled to discover that laughter is returning. Whiteness here is loaded with tensions between melancholy and mourning, between the neutrality of forgiveness and a refusal to forget. But whiteness, importantly, has a more sinister side to it as well: one whitens, bleaches blanchir something that was once dirty, absolving it of former uncleanliness. White is also the color of the colon, the European colonizer; thus the white of Algeria has a dirty underbelly that complicates matters significantly.

This division, too, manifests itself in a linguistic conflict. Rather, her poem is steeped in bitter irony, and her use of English is biting and accusatory. It is a rejection of the universal, of the neutral, in favor of something specific, local, even parochial. This poem shows us the other side of what it can mean to speak white. Algeria declared independence in , and the FLN came to power. The FLQ was founded in , very much inspired by events in Algeria. Both the FLN and FLQ were socialist revolutionary movements, which accepted violence as a means to the goal of independence.


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  4. And in both cases, language was a central part of this struggle. We know that Arabization left an entire generation of unemployable young men in its wake, and that this dissatisfaction and idleness have contributed to the recent violence in Algeria and to a deepening of a class conflict that is defined most visibly by language. Juxtaposing these two texts in this way raises several issues. In other words, what is at stake in choosing the option of literary globalism, which is where this notion of linguistic neutrality seems to be leading us? To choose literary globalism, it seems to me, is to choose language without place.

    To take language while leaving place behind means to choose a very particular kind of exile: the self-exile of writers and intellectuals who make their homes not in countries or even cities, so much as at institutions, universities and their departments. It is a state of affairs in which place is something to be carried in memory, to be inscribed, and to be theorized, which is traversed by means other than walking, and which is cultivated by means other than planting seeds. Place, in this context, exists only as an idea: a material Algeria, with its mountains, and desert, and bloodshed, and strife is left behind for an imagined Algeria, contained by language, memory, poems, and songs.

    The struggle between the two faces of language: that of oppressor, and that of liberator, is central to her work. The fratricide in Algeria of the s, however, has complicated the relationship between writer and language more than ever before. We know that no language is really and truly neutral, and I suspect that Assia Djebar may in fact know this better than most. The issue here is that it is no longer, and perhaps has never been, sufficient to speak merely in terms of colonizer and colonized.

    The coffee served in paper cups, the rosy-cheeked American students in the background, and the mighty river all remind the viewer that Djebar is very far away from Algeria. During the course of the interview, Djebar touches on the major themes of her most recent texts: she talks about the margin- alization of the French language in Algeria, about the ephemeral quality of writing, and about the struggle of witnessing such violence from afar.

    Once the book was finished, her father died, and Djebar returned to Algeria for the funeral. Its characters wade through the contra- dictions of inheritance and history as they re-evaluate their relationships to language, territory, and origins. This new Algeria, like her new language, is extraterritorial, non-violent, and neutral: built on ideas and on the memory of a place that has since self-destructed.

    Notes 1. Djaout

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