“The Facets of our Diglossia”
Native Speakers as Multilingual Storytellers
Keywords:storytelling, ethnography, legitimacy, style, Wangrin, Solibo
Can we read novels as language memoirs of particular characters? Beyond the issue of writing style or literary creativity, postcolonial literary texts can help us theorize different kinds of speaker-legitimacies, as they depict native or colonized subjects who use language to negotiate their own positions in relation to violently normative colonial bureaucracies—whether on the margins of these, in opposition to them, or by infiltrating them. This article compares the speaker-legitimacies entailed through practices of storytelling in Patrick Chamoiseau’s novel Solibo Magnifique (Martinique, 1988) and Amadou Hampâté Bâ’s semi-fictional narrative L’Etrange destin de Wangrin (Mali, 1973). The multilingual strategies and tactics of these texts’ characters exert symbolic power in order to displace or subvert colonial power relations. After examining speaker-positions within each text, the study turns to the speaker-positions entailed by the texts as whole utterances. Both entertain a complex relationship with the discipline of ethnography, in relation to whose authority their hybrid uses of storytelling, voice, and register constitute another form of alternative legitimacy. By juxtaposing two heroic but very different literary storytellers from francophone writing, we can compare how different speaker-legitimacies are forged and performed as norms, and as alternatives to these norms, within colonial contexts.
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).