I See Myself Elsewhere: The Works of Marie Cardinal and Assia Djebar


  • Tzu-Shiow Chuang National Chi Nan University


In exilic writing, the return home involves reframing a painful past into a narrative. Both pied-noir novelist Marie Cardinal and native Algerian French writer Assia Djebar depict their imaginations of their homeland through autobiographical memoirs. In Au Pays de mes racines, Cardinal writes about her anxiety of returning to Algeria after 24 years of involuntary exile. Cardinal’s nomadic existence is complicated by her feelings of dislocation caused by the violence associated with Algeria’s war of independence. Djebar’s Le Blanc de l’Algérie bears witness to social upheavals where many Algerian intellectuals, writing in French, were murdered by Islamic terrorists in the civil war. To commemorate these intellectuals, Djebar shows her courage of rendering both their voices and thinking, and her cultural fragmentation caused by writing in French and living between two cultures. This essay explores how these two authors’ exilic memoirs, written outside of Algeria, serve as a textual site for expressing their displaced “I.”