Vietnam and the Colonial Condition of French Literature

Leslie Barnes

University of Nebraska (publisher)

Vietnam and the Colonial Condition of French Literature explores an aspect of modern French literature that has been consistently overlooked in literary histories: the relationship between the colonies—their cultures, languages, and people—and formal shifts in French literary production. Starting from the premise that neither cultural identity nor cultural production can be pure or homogenous, Leslie Barnes initiates a new discourse on the French literary canon by examining the work of three iconic French writers with personal connections to Vietnam: André Malraux, Marguerite Duras, and Linda Lê.  In a thorough investigation of the authors’ linguistic, metaphysical, and textual experiences of colonialism, Barnes articulates a new way of reading French literature: not as an inward-looking, homogenous, monolingual tradition, but rather as a tradition of intersecting and interdependent peoples, cultures, and experiences.  One of the few books to focus on Vietnam’s position within francophone literary scholarship, Barnes challenges traditional concepts of French cultural identity and offers a new perspective on canonicity and the division between “French” and “francophone” literature.  

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