Vol. 69 (2022)

Les enjeux du décentrement narratif dans « Mémoires de porc-épic » d’Alain Mabanckou

Pages: 165-172



In his rich and varied work, Alain Mabanckou takes up themes widely explored by French-speaking authors, such as the difficult experience of immigration and the presentation of the native country embracing its cultural specificity. The writer’s fame, however, does not come solely from the fact that he offers novels which, through the perspective of direct experience and an unusual style, deal with major subjects of our time. Mabanckou works particularly on the novelistic form; he transforms and refreshes it in an ingenious way, drawing inspiration from both the oral African tradition, whose expressiveness and vigour he seeks to convey, and the Western literary culture, to which he regularly refers by allusions, quotations and borrowings of all kinds. Apart from creating a hybrid novel, in which opposing stylistics intertwine, the writer reorganizes the sphere of storytelling, proceeding with a kind of creative decentering which, paradoxically, places his work at the heart of current novelistic aesthetics. Replacing the impersonal and omniscient narrator who dominates Western fictions with homodiegetic narrators, literary counterparts of an African storyteller, he exploits and develops techniques of unreliable narration, widespread in contemporary novels. Memoirs of a Porcupine is a particularly interesting example in this regard: based on an African belief, it goes so far as to reproduce the impossible narrative situation and makes an animal tell the story. The present article explores this off-center, irrational and logically implausible storytelling that narratologists simply call “unnatural.” Relying on their theories and selected works concerning the literary animal, we will seek to identify the peculiarities of animal discourse and the textual meanings that it implicitly conveys.

Citation rules

Maziarczyk, A. (2022). Les enjeux du décentrement narratif dans « Mémoires de porc-épic » d’Alain Mabanckou. Romanica Wratislaviensia, 69, 165–172.