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Albert Memmi – Entfremdung und Freiheit

(Re-)Lektüren des autobiographischen Romans ‚Die Salzsäule‘ (1953)

Jakob Zollmann

Pages 125 - 166

This article examines the colonial contexts of the autobiographical novel ‚The Pillar of Salt‘ (1953) by the Tunisian-born writer Albert Memmi, as well as its current interpretations in literary and historical studies. The various identifications of Memmi as a Tunisian, Jewish, African or French author and his (alleged) authenticity as a contemporary witness of French colonialism and the politics of assimilation are analyzed. This strongly autobiographical interpretation of an “ethnographic” author is placed in a broader context of the genesis of (post)colonial literature in the first half of the 20th century. The close entanglement of Memmi’s account with the contemporary history of Tunisia is surveyed with regard to its hybrid genre and its claim to present real problems of the ‚situation coloniale‘. Four aspects are singled out, to which Memmi repeatedly refers in the course of the novel, in order to illustrate the historical development of the Jewish communities in North Africa through an adolescent: poverty, the return to Jewish- African history, anti-Semitism, and colonial assimilation.


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