Mouloud Feraoun's Journal 1955-62: the aesthetics and ethics of putting one's life on the line

Activity: Talk or presentationPresentation


Aesthetics and ethics are both fraught concepts in the post-human, post-subject, post-colonial global contemporary. Ethics today, according to Alain Badiou, are the direct inheritance of colonialism, and aesthetics are all to do with judgments that have a long history of entanglement with western hierarchies. Yet, following in the line of thinkers about Wittgenstein's aphorism, 'Aesthetics and Ethics are One', I argue that in the inextricability of style from content, that both ethics and aesthetics are, at least in part, dependent upon the 'eye of the beholder' (Appelqvist 7-8). Following Bill Ashcroft's suggestion that 'we move away from aesthetics as a cultural ideology by describing it as the qualitative effect of the stimuli on the senses' (Ashcroft 414), I argue that in Mouloud Feraoun's insistence upon authorial intervention and confession-as-aesthetic in his journal written during the Algerian War for Independence from France (1954-62) and his autobiographical first novel, The Poor Man's Son, Feraoun's life writing challenges the prevailing aesthetic and ethical concerns of his contemporaries, such as Albert Camus, but equally, Feraoun, shot dead in the last days of war by rogue French SAS officers, presents scholars today thinking through the borders between life and work, world and world literatures a vital focal point.
PeriodOct 2017
Event titleThe Textualities of Auto/Biography: or, the Auto/biogrAfrical
Event typeConference
LocationStellenbosch, South AfricaShow on map