Where I Stand 08/03/16

It is snowing today. This winter is relentless not in its extremes but in its length.  I have lost all will to cycle into the university – although I did and got caught in the rain just when I thought I had seen the gap on my weather app .

Kamel Daoud, in his The Meursault Investigation, is not simply appropriating from Camus. Nor is he simply involved in frivolous metafictional play.  The Meursault Investigation isn’t simply the retelling of the western ‘dominant matrix’ but instead is a palimpsest of what R.G. Collingwood refers to as the ‘collaborative’ processes involved in production of ‘art proper’.  As Collingwood argues the appropriation in the rerendering of Sapho by Cattalus and the source of Shakespeare’s oeuvre in the works of Kyd and Marlow are the fundamental source of all art.  Daoud by appropriating the names of his characters (and the naming a characters is after all a key concern) from the Quran he points to this notion and in doing so goes some way to denying that he (and other postcolonial writers) are dominated by a western matrix. In this way he asserts that literature’s matrix is not merely western/colonial but has always been involved in cross-cultural collaborative acts.  In fact Daoud’s constant confusion within the novel between the fictional world of Camus and reality suggests something of Don Quixote whose tale was, according to Cervantes’s metafictional claim, originally written in Arabic. Although several critics have missed Daoud’s borrowings from the Quran they are at least an intimation that the simple unresolved master/slave (Hegelian) dialect suggested by Camus/Daoud, Meursault/Musa, Jean-Baptiste/Harun, Marie/Miriem, Colonial/Postcolonial, France/Algeria, Christian/Muslim, western literature/‘marginal postcolonial rewrite’ is not as pronounced as many would think.

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