Violent encounters: narrating conflict in Leila Sebbar's Le Fou de Sherazade
Schneider, Annedith (2005) Violent encounters: narrating conflict in Leila Sebbar's Le Fou de Sherazade. In: Arens, Rudiger and Herrera-Sobek, Maria and Ikas, Karin and Lomeli, Francisco A., (eds.) Violence and Transgression in World Minority Literatures. University Press Winter, Heidelberg, pp. 413-424. ISBN 3825350940
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Leila Sebbar's Shérazade novels repeatedly take up not only themes of belonging, but also the physical violence young people experience at the hands of authorities and the psychical violence that comes from a sense of disconnection from both their parents' culture and that of France. These novels are certainly interested in questions of center and margin, especially as concerns the elaboration of a French cultural identity. Making a claim to belonging, however, is obviously not the same as having it accepted, and Sebbar's title character often faces violence as a result of being perceived as an outsider. In the first two novels, Sebbar's narrative is multi-voiced, so that the structure of the text matches the political content. This concern with belonging and violence continues in Le Fou de Shérazade, but in this third novel of the trilogy, the multiplicity is mitigated as a single anonymous narrator conducts the narrative. In this light, it is no accident that violence occupies such a central place in this text compared to the first two novels of the trilogy. On the one hand, Shérazade's ability to link different people and their cultural traditions throughout the trilogy suggests hope; on the other hand, the narrative structure of the third novel is more pessimistic. In the end, Sebbar's work is both an encouragement to seek out the other and a cautionary tale.
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