Contemporary French Civilization

Reading Camus in Oran: Kamel Daoud’s Meursault, contre-enquête

Contemporary French Civilization (2016), 41, (3-4), 449–460.

Abstract

Kamel Daoud’s reimagining of Camus’s L’Étranger, entitled Meursault, contreenquête, told from the perspective of the brother of the unnamed “Arab” murdered by the novel’s protagonist, has been enthusiastically received by the international media since its publication in 2013. As its title suggests, this essay highlights two essential elements of the remake: first, the physical and temporal displacement that opens the door to revisiting Camus’s story; and second, the important role the narrative act (as both story and history) plays in Daoud’s rereading. In exposing the shifting terrain of interpretation, Daoud’s novel not only reveals Camus’s colonial blinders but also tests the epistemological boundaries of what many critics see as an increasingly inadequate postcolonial discursive space. Through its clever insinuation into the very fabric of Camus’s work, the novel rewrites (without necessarily resolving) some of the significant questions posed by L’Étranger.

Raconté du point de vue du frère de l’Arabe anonyme tué par le protagoniste de L’Étranger, le “remake” du roman de Camus, intitulé Meursault, contre-enquête et écrit par Kamel Daoud, a connu un grand succès international après sa sortie en 2013. Comme le suggère le titre, cet essai met en relief deux éléments primordiaux du livre de Daoud: d’abord, le déplacement physique et temporel qui ouvre la voie à la re-lecture du roman de Camus, et deuxièmement, le rôle important joué par l’acte narratif (en tant qu’“histoire” et “Histoire”) dans son appropriation. Exposant le terrain instable de l’interprétation, le roman de Daoud, tout en révélant les œillères coloniales de Camus, teste les limites épistémologiques de l’espace discursif postcolonial qui, selon beaucoup de critiques, devient de plus en plus insuffisant. A force de s’insinuer ingénieusement dans la trame de l’œuvre de Camus, le roman revoit (sans pour autant résoudre) quelquesunes des questions fondamentales que pose L’Étranger.

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Bady, Aaron. “A Sort of Postcolonial Studies Joke”: Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation.” The New Inquiry, 29 Jun. 2015. A Sort of Postcolonial Studies Joke”: Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation The New Inquiry Google Scholar

Balibar, Étienne. “Algérie, France: une ou deux nations?” Droit de cité. Éditions de l’aube, 1998, pp. 73–88. Algérie, France: une ou deux nations? Droit de cité 73 88 Google Scholar

Brozgal, Lia. “The Critical Pulse of the Contre-enquête: Kamel Daoud on the Maghrebi Novel in French.” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, vol. 20, no. 1, 2016, pp. 37–46. The Critical Pulse of the Contre-enquête: Kamel Daoud on the Maghrebi Novel in French Contre-enquête 20 37 46 Google Scholar

Camus, Albert. L’Étranger. Gallimard, 1942. L’Étranger Google Scholar

Césaire, Aimé. Une Tempête. Seuil, 1993. Une Tempête Google Scholar

Cohen, Roger. “Algeria’s Invisible Arab.” New York Times, 24 Jul. 2015. Algeria’s Invisible Arab New York Times Google Scholar

Daoud, Kamel. Meursault, contre-enquête. Actes Sud, 2014. Meursault, contre-enquête Google Scholar

Daoud, Kamel. “Cologne, lieu de fantasmes.” Le Monde, 13 Jan. 2016. Cologne, lieu de fantasmes Le Monde Google Scholar

Dib, Mohammed. “La fin.” Le Talisman. Actes Sud, 1997. La fin Le Talisman Google Scholar

Djaout, Tahar. “Un film sur Kateb”. L’Hommage à Kateb Yacine. Kalim no. 7. Alger, Office des publications universitaires, 1987. Un film sur Kateb L’Hommage à Kateb Yacine Google Scholar

Fraser, Nick. “The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud: A Beautiful Riposte to Camus and The Outsider.” Guardian, 19 Jul. 2015. The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud: A Beautiful Riposte to Camus and The Outsider Guardian Google Scholar

Harrison, Nicolas. “Assia Djebar: Fiction as a Way of Thinking.” Postcolonial Thought in the French Speaking World, edited by Charles Forsdick and David Murphy. Liverpool UP, 2009, pp. 65–76. Assia Djebar: Fiction as a Way of Thinking Postcolonial Thought in the French Speaking World 65 76 Google Scholar

“Kamel Daoud recycle les clichés orientalistes les plus éculés.” Le Monde, 11 Feb. 2016. Google Scholar

Kaplan, Alice. “Meursault, contre-enquête de Kamel Daoud.” Contreligne, May–Jun. 2014. Meursault, contre-enquête de Kamel Daoud Contreligne Google Scholar

Lalami, Laila. “The Meursault Investigation, by Kamel Daoud,” New York Times, Sunday Book Review, 8 Jun. 2015. The Meursault Investigation, by Kamel Daoud New York Times Google Scholar

Lionnet, Francoise. “Narrating the Americas: Transcolonial Métissage and Maryse Condé’s La Migration des cœurs.” Mixing Race, Mixing Culture: Inter-American Literary Dialogues, edited by Monika Kaup and Debra J. Rosenthal. U of Texas P, 2002, pp. 65–87. Narrating the Americas: Transcolonial Métissage and Maryse Condé’s La Migration des cœurs Mixing Race, Mixing Culture: Inter-American Literary Dialogues 65 87 Google Scholar

Moaveni, Azadeh. “The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud.” Financial Times, 10 Jul. 2015. The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud Financial Times Google Scholar

Said, Edward W. Culture and Imperialism. Vintage, 1993. Culture and Imperialism Google Scholar

Sariahmed, Nadia. “Daoud’s Camus Fanfiction is More of the Same.” Jadaliyya, 27 Jul. 2015, www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/22270/daoud%E2%80%99s-camus-fanfiction-is-more-of-the-same/. Google Scholar

Séry, Macha. “Kamel Daoud double Camus.” Le Monde, Le monde des livres, 5 Nov. 2014. Kamel Daoud double Camus Le Monde Google Scholar

Shohat, Ella. “Notes on the Post-Colonial.” The Pre-Occupation of Postcolonial Studies, edited by Fawzia Afzal-Kahn and Kalpana Seshadri-Crookes. Duke UP, 2000, pp. 126–139. Notes on the Post-Colonial The Pre-Occupation of Postcolonial Studies 126 139 Google Scholar

Strand, Dana. “Assia Djebar’s La femme sans sépulture as Postcolonial Primer.” Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, vol. 13, no. 3, 2009, pp. 339–347. Assia Djebar’s La femme sans sépulture as Postcolonial Primer La femme sans sépulture 13 339 347 Google Scholar

Treisman, Deborah. “This Week in Fiction: Kamel Daoud.” New Yorker, 30 Mar. 2015. This Week in Fiction: Kamel Daoud New Yorker Google Scholar

Yassin-Kassab, Robin. “The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud – An Instant Classic.” Guardian, 24 Jun. 2015. The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud – An Instant Classic Guardian Google Scholar

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Strand, Dana