n French Studies in Southern Africa - Portrait de famille : de J.M.G. Le Clézio

Volume 2014, Issue 44
  • ISSN : 0259-0247



is the Le Clézio text which most resembles a biography (of his father, Raoul), as well as containing autobiographical elements. Dedicated to a "doctor without borders", also contains a portrait of Simone Le Clézio, the author's mother, whose life story is fictionalized in . In both and , a novel inspired by the same events, Simone Le Clézio is shown as adapting effortlessly to life in Africa. Yet she is not only absent from the title of , she is erased from the author's family tree through his admission to a protracted dream of having a black mother. The article aims, firstly, to illustrate the author's reinvention of the circumstances of his conception and birth, an important theme in his oeuvre. Secondly, by means of a hermeneutic reading of those passages dedicated to Simone Le Clézio, to produce an abridged biography of a woman who protected her children throughout the war years in Europe and who seems to have been assigned the same role during her second African sojourn. In this sense, the detailed description of the excessive force used on a female scorpion becomes more than a mere anecdote. Ultimately, the article aims to rehabilitate a woman whose Africanness was more than skin deep.

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