The Algerian Literary Field in the ’Black Decade’ : A Reinforced Polarization Chapitre d’ouvrage - 2019

Tristan Leperlier

Tristan Leperlier, « The Algerian Literary Field in the ’Black Decade’ : A Reinforced Polarization  », in Richard Jacquemond, Felix Lang (eds.), Culture and Crisis in the Arab World : Art, Practice and Production in Spaces of Conflict, 2019, pp. 129-144. ISBN 9781788314244. 〈〉


To what extent was the Algerian literary field affected by the Civil War ? Despite the political crisis, the rules of the literary field do not entirely disappear. Contrary to the idea that crisis is exceptional, this chapter will show that the Civil War acted on the literary field in a way that was in line with its previous structures. The political crisis acted to reinforce statistical tendencies in the literary field that had already been seen earlier.Thanks to the statistical survey of literary works, it can be said that the Algerian literary field retained a certain degree of autonomy even during the worst years of the Civil War. The political and literary chronologies did not overlap, and the effects of the crisis on the literary field were felt in ways that were proper to it, notably in terms of bilingualism and transnationalism. Despite this, the autonomy of the field was strongly affected, and political tendencies in the two linguistic groups led to radically different developments. But the decline in the number of French-language titles published in Algeria cannot be explained by the political variable alone, but must also be put down to variables that are more properly literary, including opportunities for publication in France, that the crisis opened up wider for exiled Algerian writers. By contrast, the end of the crisis afflicting the Algerian literary field was due primarily to factors external to it, such as the intertwined political and diplomatic interests of France and Algeria, and only secondarily to factors internal to the field itself, the bilingual alliance that took place in the Algerian literary avant-garde being a way of taking up position against francophone writers publishing in France and dominating the field at the time.

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