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Blank Darkness

Africanist Discourse in French

"Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French is a brilliant and altogether convincing analysis of the way in which Western writers, from Homer to the twentieth century have . . . imposed their language of desire on the least-known part of the world and have called it ’Africa.’ There are excellent readings here of writers ranging from Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Sade, and Céline to Conrad and Yambo Ouologuem, but even more impressive and important than these individual readings is Mr. Miller’s wide-ranging, incisive, and exact analysis of ’Africanist’ discourse, what it has been and what it has meant in the literature of the Western world."—James Olney, Louisiana State University

283 pages | 5 halftones | 6.00 x 9.00 | © 1985

African Studies

Black Studies

Literature and Literary Criticism: African Languages, Romance Languages

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Part One: Introduction
1. "Telle figure que l’on veut": Deriving a Discourse
A Discourse with Tails
Names for a Distance
Orientalism and Africa
Ambivalence in Antiquity
Blameless Ones and Headless Ones
The "Idea" of Blackness
Aniaba and Zaga-Christ
Nigri Idolatrae
French Priority and French Desire
"Africa," Dream and Discourse
Part Two: Africanist Poetics
2. Baudelaire in the Nineteenth Century: Black and White in Color
Les Curiosités esthétiques
The Salon of 1845
The Salon of 1846
Writing on the Void
Baudelaire and Gobineau
Black Irreflection
Creole Creativity
The Creole Lady
But Not Satisfied
"La Belle Dorothée"
The Swan, the Slave, and the Rhetoric of Nostalgia
Equality and Hierarchy
3. "Je est un nègre," or Rimbaud’s Africanist Adventures
The Poetry
"Mauvais Song"
Rimbaud "chez les nègres"
The Myth of Writing
The Myth of the Slave Trade
Rimbaud and Myth
Part Three: Africanist Narrative
4. The Discoursing Heart: Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
Africa and the Novel
Narrating Backwards
"Heart" and "Darkness": Condensing and Lying
"Those Savages"
Conrad and Rimbaud
Heart of Darkness and the French
5. No One’s Novel: Sade’s Aline et Valcour
Framing Disruption
The Body Dis-organized
Libertinism and the Figure of Africa
6. Céline the Obscure
The Endless Night
In Bambola-Bragamance
7. Dis-figuring Narrative: Plagiarism and Dismemberment in Yambo Ouologuem’s Le Devoir de Violence
The African and the Novel
Plagiarism, Legally
Identity of the Text
The Purloined Quotation Marks
Lettre à la France nègre
Narration in Le Devoir de violence
Ouologuem and Libertinism
8. Conclusion

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