This week you will be able to attend Baba Badji’s poetry reading and visit our book exhibit “Francophone Voices” in partnership with the John M. Olin Library.

“What Francophone literature means”

by Maurice Tetne, PhD candidate in French.

The selected authors in the exhibition have made use of their pen for the cause of humanity. Bringing people together, preaching tolerance are among other goals they had assigned themselves. Their contribution to the work of literature is undoubtedly a precious legacy that helps keep the flame of francophone literature. They offer a glance over diversity from different perspectives while dazzling readers with diverse paths through life; a path made of cries, joy, and constant questioning. In their anthology of francophone literature outside France, editors think that La Francophonie shares with France the responsibility for building the future of the French language. However, they recognize that most of them have departed from a littérature d’imitation [Imitation literature] to

des littératures fidèles à leur terroir, au coutumes, aux croyances et à la condition des hommes qui y vivent, des littératures engagées dans le difficile mais nécessaire combat de la liberté, de la justice et de la solidarité, partagées entre les idéologies traditionnelles et les idéologies révolutionnaires.[1]

[literatures faithful to their homeland, customs, beliefs, and living conditions of its inhabitants; literatures committed to the difficult but necessary fight for freedom, justice, and solidarity, divided between traditional and revolutionary ideologies].

Seydou Badian’s Sous l’orage had already mentioned the same need for people to self-identify and add their personal drive to the walk of humanity: “L’humanité serait vraiment pauvre si nous devions tous nous transformer en Européens. Il est souhaitable que dans des rencontres de ce genre chacun puisse apporter son chant, sa danse.[2] [Mankind would be really poor if we were all to turn into Europeans. It is suitable that in encounters of this kind, everyone can bring their song and dance]

With 88 countries and state governments involved in its platform – 54 members, 7 partners, and 27 observers – La francophonie is also a meeting place for francophiles from all over the world whose works help promote the French language. André Brink from South Africa was a perfect example, dedicating his life to translating some prominent works of French literature. The growing influence of the language and its literature sets the ground for both a powerful literary and cultural production for the decades ahead. Going over the selected works will not only give a glimpse of francophone authors but also help you navigate the complex but rich literary productions that have over the years shaped the history around a shared language.

[1] Littérature de langue française hors de France : anthologie didactique. Sèvres-France : F.I.P.F, 1976.

[2] Badian, Seydou. (1973). Sous l’orage. Paris : Présence Africaine.