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Listening to Ralph Ellison's music: Farida Belghoul and the question of invisibility

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Farida Belghoul's use of Ralph Ellison's notion of invisibility, in her novel Georgette! (Belghoul 1986) is an example of the ways in which migrant literature in France is part of littrature-monde by engaging in a dialogue with other literatures (in this case an African-American author) beyond the French or Francophone context. This article focuses on the ways in which Belghoul in Georgette! uses Ellison's method to translate into fictional form the historical invisibility of the subject constructed as racialized other. Particular attention is paid to the ways in which the relationship between the written word and the history of slavery and colonialism is given new interpretations in Invisible Man (Ellison 1952 1995) and in Georgette!. Belghoul draws on Ellison's method by challenging the constructed border between textuality and orality. Her novel engages the reader in a dynamic relationship with the literary text by prioritizing at times orality, and visual representations that question written texts as fixed and permanent manifestations. Thus, Ellison's poetics of invisibility enable Belghoul to reconsider language, nation and culture as notions to be reconstructed and reinvented. This process points to the possibilities of fruitful exchanges and dialogues between writers from distinct linguistic, cultural, and literary traditions who have in common a history of domination and alienation.
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Keywords: Belghoul; Ellison; colonialism; diaspora; minority; orality

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Toronto.

Publication date: December 1, 2009

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  • The International Journal of Francophone Studies offers a critical preview for a new development in the understanding of 'France outside France', with a thorough insight into the network of disciplinary issues affiliated with this study. The journal complements the thriving area of scholarly interest in the French-speaking regions of the world, bringing a location of linguistic, cultural, historical and social dynamics within a single academic arena.
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