Working Papers in Romance Languages


In the process of post-colonial nation-building, the State often attempts to impose its own discourse as the sole source of national identity in order to homogenize the nation. In his influential work Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Benedict Anderson notes the discrepancy between 'official' discourse, which supports the conception of a unified State, and the reality of a diverse people artificially grouped within the same political entity. To account for their disparity, Anderson argues that the nation is primarily a discursive phenomenon, i.e. a fiction supported by narratives. Based on his concept of imagined communities, literary works come to light as essential tools for nation-building, and writers emerge as key figures called upon to embrace the official model of the nationalist narrative. A new nation's literary production can rely on heavily codified structures of the novel to promote and preserve the fiction of a homogeneous national identity, defined here as an imagined community that shares the same collective values, a common understanding of History, and a profound commitment to the State. Such a propaganda-oriented mindset led Rachid Mimouni to challenge nationalist narrative in his first novel, Le printemps n'en sera que plus beau. This text, all too often disregarded as an early work that shows less aesthetic maturity than Mimouni's later writing, merits further analysis as an initial attempt to challenge national narrative. In its closing lines, Mimouni contests not only the attempt to fix literary boundaries, but also the official discourse used in nationalist texts...