In search of El Dorado? the experience of migration to France in contemporary African novels /
Abstract (Summary)iii Literary criticism of recent novels about the theme of migration to France often fails to take into account both the reality and experiences of migrants. Worse, critics tend to minimize both the role of French imperialism and the strength of African cultures as they read these works. Their analyses raise the broad question of just how African migration literature can be interpreted to reflect the social realities which frame the action of the protagonists who are most vulnerable to France's contradictory immigration policies. Drawing on the concept of tragedy as both a genre and as a philosophical framework, I analyze four novels that convey the stories of francophone African immigrants to Europe. These are Fatou Diome’s Le Ventre de l’Atlantique, Alain Mabanckou’s Bleu Blanc Rouge, Bessora’s 53 cm and Nathalie Etoké’s Un amour sans papiers. The study reveals that the novels’ characters, style and narrative progression indicate the authors’ attempt to simultaneously articulate the suffering of poorer African migrants and appeal to the Republic to redress it. The search for a middle ground between Africa and France minimizes the Republic’s pursuit of power at the cost of African lives. This result contradicts the tragic imperative that the powerful actors receive blame for the suffering of the most vulnerable members of society. The unsuccessful attempt at neutrality also reflects the paradoxical situation of Africans who use the French language to articulate the dilemmas in which the Republic is heavily implicated. This study thus proposes a model of criticism that acknowledges the role of iv migrant experiences, African traditions and critics’ personal inclinations in the experience of and narratives about migration to France. It complements works by Jean- Paul Sartre, Frantz Fanon and Lewis Gordon that call on intellectuals to accept their implication in pressing social issues and to situate events on a global stage. The study also emphasizes the need to include a range of social, historical and environmental factors in determining the causes of injustice. Above all, it presents reality based criticism as an alternative to literary criticism dominated by theoretical concerns that often minimize the challenges of every day life.
School Location:USA - Pennsylvania
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Date of Publication: