Marguerite Duras and Assia Djebar are taken here as two examples of twentieth-century women intellectuals and writers whose lives and work are marked by the history of France and that of its colonies, and by that century's conflicts. They represent different generations and different
personal and political positions with regard to the countries of their birth and to France. Their work nonetheless manifests striking similarities as the two women bear witness both to their own personal histories and experiences and to their respective collective experiences that encompass
family, community and nation. Aspects of their work are therefore re-evaluated within the notion of the 'witness and the text' with a focus on the ambiguities both of personal and collective memory, and of their writing strategies. In their appeal to memory (in the name of diverse and often
anonymous victims of oppression and violence), these writers work with anxious (and sometimes unreliable) narrators in the urgency of the moment to produce work that eventually transcends uncertainty and anxiety to attain what is termed here a 'monumental' status. A reading of the 'monumental'
in textual form is therefore suggested that differs from the critique of the capacity of the monument to bear witness (or fail to bear witness) by displacing the need to remember.
Journal of Romance Studies promotes innovative critical work in the areas of linguistics, literature, performing and visual arts, media, material culture, intellectual and cultural history, critical and cultural theory, psychoanalysis, gender studies, social sciences, and anthropology. The primary focus is on those parts of the world that speak, or have spoken, French, Italian, Spanish or Portuguese, but work on other cultures may be included. Issues cross national and disciplinary boundaries in order to stimulate new ways of thinking about cultural history and practice.