Article Title

Making the Break: Alain Mabanckou’s Tale of Impossible Origins

Type of Work

Article

Date

2017

Journal Title

Symposium

Journal ISSN

0039-7709

Journal Volume

71

Journal Issue

3

First Page

140

Last Page

151

DOI

10.1080/00397709.2017.1349455

Abstract

This essay explores the question of origins in Alain Mabanckou's critically acclaimed novel, Verre Cassé (2005). While it has been argued that Mabanckou's text falls in line with the littérature-monde paradigm and thus debunks the notion of Francophonie, I contend that it depicts the entire enterprise of origins as always already doomed to failure and proposes in its place a relational thought-model that surpasses the dialectical thought that grounds universalism and particularism alike. Thematically, Mabanckou portrays character quests for originality as absurd; on the level of narrative mode, he uses murky narrative positions and temporality to unhinge the authority of the singular speaking subject; finally, through the incorporation of intertextual references, he defies the very logic driving the notion of origins. Composing his text out of others’ gone before, Mabanckou pushes diversity to a higher conceptual level; he appropriates and repurposes old fragments, joining them up in one relational space so that they might gain new meaning.

Hamilton Areas of Study

French and Francophone Studies