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Literary production in Niger: the case of the novel

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Literature, like all art, is in part geographically and historically determined. Despite its imaginary nature, literature maintains close ties with its context of emergence. African literature is in part an illustration of determinisms of this type and owes a great deal to colonial trauma. Nevertheless, it also draws on autochthonous myths – both old and new – on the colonial heritage, and on new mentalities generated by decolonisation and other factors. However, certain political and ideological choices visible in literary texts underline national specificities. My intention, as a citizen of Niger, is to contribute to bringing Nigérien literature, and the Nigérien novel, in particular, into the limelight. In fact, this production is only just emerging, as the first novel dates back to 1959. This paper focuses on the fundamental problem of the relation between the novel produced in Niger and the Nigérien society, and by extension, the relation between Nigérien literature and the society from which it is emerging. Based on a thematic study, in the spirit of socio-criticism, an attempt will be made to place a selected corpus of eleven novels, published between 1977 and 1993, in their context of emergence. The geographical (spatial and climatic) milieu is omnipresent and dominant in these works; focus on a traditional socio-cultural milieu is recurrent and is still of current importance, while the modern socio-cultural milieu is determinant but not quite as dominant as rural space. These are some of the basic elements composing the backdrop of Nigérien novelistic creation. They suggest aspects of a collective identity. Nonetheless these are not, in themselves, sufficient grounds on which to identify a specific literary production.


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