Friday, December 7, 2007

Driss Chraibi: The Moroccan Novelist

"Chraïbi is considered to be the father of the modern Moroccan novel.

"Chraïbi's works draw heavily on his own life. Central theme in his novels is the clash between different cultures, the East and the West, Arab and French. Chraïbi's range of style changes from epic to comedy. He has been among the pioneers of Maghrebian writers to explore the oppression of women and children in an Islamic, patriarchal society.

"Driss Chraïbi was bon in El Jadida. His father was a tea merchant, who perceived Western education as a means to modern Morocco. Chraïbi attended Koranic school as a young boy. When the family moved to Casablanca, Chraïbi continued his studies at the French Lycée. At age of nineteen he went to France planning study chemical engineering and neuropsychiatry. After abandoning his studies, he traveled throughout Europe and Israel.

"Chraïbi settled in France with his first wife and children, and eventually devoted himself in 1952 to literature and journalism. [...]

"As a novelist Chraïbi made his debut with Le Passé simple (The Simple Past), which was published in 1954, two years before Morocco gained its independence. The book arose much controversy because of the inflammable political situation in the North Africa.

"Chraïbi was criticized as a traitor to the Arab world and French conservatives saw that the book revealed the reason for French presence in Morocco. The protagonist in the novel is a young man, Driss, who revolts against his tyrannical Moslem father. The father banishes Driss from the home and Driss begins his wandering on the streets. Finally he returns to home only to find that his mother has committed suicide in his absence. The novel ends with Driss's departure for France. Driss is an outsider in his own country, oppressed by his family and the feudal, religious traditions.

"Chraïbi was so disturbed by critics, that he publicly rejected the novel in 1957, but later regretted his action. The book was banned in Morocco until 1977. [...]"