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Présence Francophone: Revue internationale de langue et de littérature

Abstract

The theme of travel occupies an important place in African literature for two reasons. The earliest African writers wanted to substitute their own discourse for the one that had been produced by the West for centuries and which was long considered to be the sole legitimate discourse on Africa. By portraying African heroes and/or narrators who embarked on voyages to Africa or to Europe, African writers showed that the African too could be a traveler. The second reason is linked to generic considerations. Since the time of Don Quixote, the novel unfolds as an itinerary moving from one point to the other, and with this mode of articulation have come many consequences for the narration as well as for character development. In his autobiographical book, The Enigma of Arrival,V .S. Naipaul uses the experience of his sojourn in England to analyze the concept of “arrival” and shows that, far from constituting the end of the journey and the closure of a narrative, the arrival is a new departure. Naipaul’s concept sheds light on the question of exile, which, particularly when it occurs in the West, can become the place of renewal for the subject. It also allows for a reconsideration of the relation between “center” and “periphery.”

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