Yambo Ouologuem Criticism - Essay

James Olney (essay date 1973)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Pornography, Philosophy, and African History,” in Tell Me Africa: An Approach to African Literature, Princeton University Press, 1973, pp. 204-47.

[In the following essay, Olney analyzes the perceptions of “blackness” and “négritude” in the works of Camara Laye, Cheikh Hamidou Kane, and Yambo Ouologuem.]

They order this matter differently in Francophone Africa. Whether one judges that they order it better, as Laurence Sterne declares is the case in France herself, or order it worse, will depend no doubt on the observer's sensibilities; that they order it differently, however, is beyond dispute. The fiction that borders on sociology and...

(The entire section is 15140 words.)

Eric Sellin (essay date 1976)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Unknown Voice of Yambo Ouologuem,” in Yale French Studies, Vol. 53, 1976, pp. 137-62.

[In the following essay, Sellin gives details concerning the accusations of plagiarism against Ouologuem for Le Devoir de violence and the aftereffects of these charges.]

“Un témoignage et une voix inconnus.”

(Le Monde)

In 1968 Editions du Seuil, which has over the years published an impressive list of works in French by African and Maghrebine authors, brought out a first novel, Le Devoir de violence, by Yambo Ouologuem.1 Ouologuem was born in Mali in 1940 and...

(The entire section is 9886 words.)

A. E. Ohaegbu (essay date 1979)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “An Approach to Ouologuem's Le Devoir de violence,” in African Literature Today: 10 Retrospect & Prospect, Africana Publishing Company, 1979, pp. 124- 33.

[In the following essay, Ohaegbu examines Ouologuem's use of violence to show different aspects of human nature.]

A lot has been said about the controversial Malian writer Yambo Ouologuem, and his novel Le Devoir de Violence translated in English as Bound to Violence.1 But much of the argument tends more to generate heat than to shed light on the author's literary intentions and his vision of the world.

There is no doubt that Ouologuem's book is one of...

(The entire section is 4073 words.)

Lemuel A. Johnson (essay date 1980)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “The Middle Passage in African Literature: Wole Soyinka, Yambo Ouologuem, Ayi Kwei Armah,” in African Literature Today: 11 Myth & History, Africana Publishing Company, 1980, pp. 62-84.

[In the following essay, Johnson examines the use of the Middle Passage (a term describing the grueling voyage between West Africa and the Caribbean that slaves were forced to endure), literally and figuratively, as the focus of novels by Wole Soyinka, Ayi Kwei Armah, and Ouologuem.]


The Middle Passage in literature is, at bottom, a metaphor for displacement and exile. Predictably, the historical trauma of the slave trade generates...

(The entire section is 8735 words.)

Rosemary G. Schikora (essay date 1980)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Outfoxing the Fox: Game Strategy in Le Devoir de violence,” in Perspectives on Contemporary Literature, Vol. 6, 1980, pp. 72-79.

[In the following essay, Schikora analyzes aspects of various games and challenges in correlation to Ouologuem's Le Devoir de violence.]

When Ouologuem's Le Devoir de violence appeared in 1968, it was enthusiastically received by those who had been awaiting with some impatience the first “authentically African” novel.1 (It was subsequently awarded the coveted Prix Renaudot.) This fascinating and controversial novel offers solid evidence on several levels of game strategy at play, both in the overall...

(The entire section is 3597 words.)

Christopher L. Miller (essay date 1985)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Dis-figuring Narrative: Plagiarism and Dismemberment in Yambo Ouologuem's Le Devoir de violence,” in Blank Darkness, University of Chicago Press, 1985, pp. 216-45.

[In the following essay, Miller examines Le Devoir de violence with respect to the charges of plagiarism.]

At its extreme, the myth of the Negro, the idea of the Negro, can become the decisive factor of an authentic alienation.

—Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks


Time can become constitutive only when the bond with the...

(The entire section is 12404 words.)

George Lang (essay date 1987)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Text, Identity, and Difference: Yambo Ouologuem's Le Devoir de violence and Ayi Kwei Armah's Two Thousand Seasons,” in Comparative Literature Studies, Vol. 24, No. 4, 1987, pp. 387-402.

[In the following essay, Lang compares Ouologuem's Le Devoir de violence and Ayi Kwei Armah's Two Thousand Seasons, arguing that Armah's book appears to be a rebuttal to the violence and negativity found in Le Devoir de violence.]

Elective or not, the affinity between Ouologuem's Le Devoir de violence and Armah's Two Thousand Seasons has struck various critics, as has their common ancestry with André Schwarz-Bart's Le Dernier...

(The entire section is 6452 words.)

Derek Wright (essay date 1988)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Orality in the African Historical Novel: Yambo Ouologuem's Bound to Violence and Ayi Kwei Armah's Two Thousand Seasons,” in Journal of Commonwealth Literature, Vol. XXIII, No. 1, 1988, pp. 91-101.

[In the following comparative essay, Wright examines the use of oral history and mythology in Bound to Violence and Ayi Kwei Armah's Two Thousand Seasons.]

The transmutation of oral literary forms into written ones is an uncertain and unpredictable process, and the survival of the styles and narrative techniques of the oral story-teller into the modern African novel is an especially haphazard affair. The graphic hyperbole of the traditional...

(The entire section is 4770 words.)

Robert Philipson (essay date Winter 1989)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Chess and Sex in Le Devoir de violence,” in Callaloo, Vol. 12, No. 1, Winter, 1989, pp. 216-32.

[In the following essay, Philipson studies the parallels between Le Devoir de violence and the game of chess.]

“It's a great huge game of chess that's being played—all over the world—if this is the world at all, you know.”

—Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

autobiography—Chess for me has always connoted the invincibility of the father. When I was little, my father taught me chess, and we played often....

(The entire section is 8432 words.)

J. A. Nicholls (essay date May-August 1991)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Towards a Camusian Reading of Le Devoir de violence,” in Australian Journal of French Studies, Vol. XXVIII, No. 2, May-August, 1991, pp. 211-19.

[In the following essay, Nicholls explores the historical aspects of Le Devoir de violence, and likens Ouologuem's writing approach to that of Albert Camus.]

It was to be hoped1 that the views expressed by, amongst others, John Erickson2 and Aliko Songolo3 might have allowed the charges of plagiarism to be dropped and have encouraged Le Seuil to reprint Le Devoir de violence; but the 1968 Prix Renaudot remains unavailable in its original form. This is to...

(The entire section is 4400 words.)

Edna Aizenberg (essay date October 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Historical Subversion and Violence of Representation in García Márquez and Ouologuem,” in Publications of the Modern Language Association, Vol. 107, No. 5, October, 1992, pp. 1235-52.

[In the following essay, Aizenberg addresses the differences between actual history and common beliefs, and discusses the concept of embellished history in historical novels by Gabriel García Márquez and Ouologuem.]

The rediscovery of history—a recent literary-critical event associated with new historicism, the engagement of the text with the world, and the postmodernist presence of the past—marks a negative response to the older ahistorical, if not antihistorical,...

(The entire section is 11722 words.)

Donald R. Wehrs (essay date December 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: “Colonialism, Polyvocality, and Islam in L'aventure ambiguë and Le Devoir de violence,” in MLN, Vol. 107, No. 5, December, 1992, pp. 1000-27.

[In the following essay, Wehrs analyzes the many voices of postcolonial Africa contained in Cheikh Hamidou Kane's L'aventure ambiguë and Ouologuem's Le Devoir de violence.]

Much African fiction, such as Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart (1958), presents Western colonialism as the means by which an hegemonic, monological culture of imperialism displaces traditional cultures characterized by religions and rituals that recognize through polytheism a plurality of truths, or forces, or...

(The entire section is 11632 words.)