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Literary Representations of the Maghrebi Experience of the East-West Encounter

Zahia Smail Salhi

Hardback (Forthcoming)

Explores the encounters between East and West in Maghrebi literature in the pre-1945 period

Maghrebi literature published in the first half of the twentieth century is a subject that seldom receives focused scholarly treatment. This is partly due to limited availability of the books, some of which were printed in as few as fifty copies. Zahia Smail Salhi tracked down these rare works and put them in the spotlight for the first time here. Through close textual analysis and in-depth engagement with religious and socio-political contexts, Smail Salhi determines whether these texts belong to a collective formation we may call ‘Occidentalism’. In so doing, this book reintegrates the pre-1945 Maghrebi novels into the history and study of modern Arabic literature.

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Chapter One: The Maghreb and the Occident: Towards the Construction of an Occidentalist Discourse
Chapter Two: From the Faraway Orient to the Reclaimed Occident: French Civilisation, Religious Conversion, and Cultural Assimilation
Chapter Three: The Occident and the Barbary Corsairs: Pre-Colonial Maghrebi Encounters with the Occident
Chapter Four: "La France, c’est moi": Love and Infatuation with the Occident
Chapter Five: The Occident and the Oriental Woman: Rescuing the Oriental Man’s Victim?
Chapter Six: The New Maghrebi Woman and the Occident: From Occidentophilia to Ambivalence
Chapter Seven: The End of the Chimera: Disillusion, Alienation and Ambivalence

About the Author

Zahia Smail Salhi is Chair of Modern Arabic Studies, University of Manchester and Vice-President of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies. She served as Judge of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction (2013) and the Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation (2016). She was Co-Director of the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (2013-2016) and Member of Sub-panel 27 (Area Studies), Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).


Ambitious and lucid, this book provides a comprehensive view of modern Algerian literature originating in the colonial period through the lens of "occidentalism." It is a valuable addition to the scholarship on the enduring, complex, and shifting relationship between colonizer and colonized in the production of literary knowledge.

- Marnia Lazreg, City University of New York

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