Fatima-Zohra besuchte sowohl eine Koranschule als auch die Schule, an der ihr Vater unterrichtete. Assia bedeutet Trost, und Djebbar Unnachgiebigkeit. Dieses Buch machte sie in Frankreich schnell bekannt. Die Ungeduldigen, heraus. Protagonistin ist eine junge gebildete Frau, die ihrem Geliebten nach Paris folgt. Seit lebte sie wieder in Paris.

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Do I even understand it? No, not entirely, but I understand enough to know that it is a remarkable work, part philosophy, part personal statement, part a history of Algeria under French rule. Its very language a paradox: an Arab author writing in French, the language of the conquerorsbut also the language that gives her freedom as a woman from the patriarchal oppression in her own land.

Its very language a paradox: an Arab author writing in French, the language of the conquerors—but also the language that gives her freedom as a woman from the patriarchal oppression in her own land.

Her prose sometimes has the detachment of an historian, sometimes the immediacy of personal confession, sometimes the intoxication of a poet—but a normal novel this is not. Look at the cover, a detail of a Delacroix painting, perfectly chosen. Indeed, for her, the failure to fully possess either her country or her own body are one and the same thing. The feminism of her writing is personal, political, and historical at one and the same time. Alternate chapters of the book tell the story of the French conquest of Algiers in , the repressive and even genocidal campaigns again guerrilla resistance that followed, and the final wars before independence in But in the personal chapters that come in between, Djebar is as much concerned with male dominance as with colonialism.

A woman walking her daughter to school realizes that the girl will learn to write, and that writing will both expose her to oppression and give her the means to overcome it. She remembers once receiving an innocent letter from a boy, and her father tearing it up unread.

In these early stages of my sentimental education, our secret correspondence is carried on in French: thus the language that my father had been at pains for me to learn, serves as a go-between, and from now a double, contradictory sign reigns over my initiation. As with the heroine of a Western romance, youthful defiance helped me break out of the circle that whispering elders traced around me and within me.

Then love came to be transformed in the tunnel of pleasure, soft clay to be moulded by matrimony. Memory purges and purifies the sounds of childhood; we are cocooned by childhood until the discovery of sensuality, which washes over us and gradually bedazzles us….

The shock of the first words blurted out: the truth emerging from a break in my stammering voice. From what nocturnal reef of pleasure did I manage to wrest this truth? I blew the space within me to pieces, a space filled with desperate voiceless cries, frozen long ago in a prehistory of love. Once I had discovered the meaning of the words—those same words that are revealed to the unveiled body—I cut myself adrift.

It is hard to know to what extent the book is autobiographical. The "I" might be Djebar herself, or at least as much as the real woman Fatima-Zohra Imalayen cares to reveal through her nom-de-plume.

In the last half of the book, where the sections follow one another like movements in a piece of chamber music, enfolding themes and variations, she will introduce several different "I" voices—resistance fighters, exiles, torture victims in the last wars against the French—any one of which might have been her as a young woman, but one assumes were not. But she becomes all women, just as she becomes her whole country. And so to the title.

Perhaps even a national ideal, noble but fated? The same ambiguity returns in the final section of the book, entitled "Tzarl-Rit.

Both Arabic-French dictionaries she quotes ascribe this only to women, but one calls it a cry of joy, and the other a howl of despair. There is much despair in this book, but joy too—and that is what makes it so extraordinary. Silence rempart autour de la fortification du plaisir, et de sa digraphie.


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