Manipulating Elissa: The uses and abuses of Elissa Rhaïs and her works

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Abstract

This article will examines the trajectory of the literary reputation of the Jewish-Algerian writer, Elissa Rhaïs (1876-1940) through the thematic lens of authenticity and its relationship to colonial and post-colonial celebrity. Its focus is not on her work per se but on the meaning of authenticity, celebrity and charisma as framed by colonial and post-colonial perceptions of gender and ethnicity. From a general perspective, it is about the political, social and cultural forces that make or break a literary career during an author's lifetime, and about the shifting nature of the literary afterlife. More specifically, it will examine the differing intersections of identity and authenticity over time and their significance to the changing nature of Rhaïs'literary celebrity. The analysis of the paper revolves around three discrete periods: one during her lifetime (1920s-30s) and two posthumously (1982, 2000s) in an attempt to unravel the significance of the intersection between authenticity and celebrity as associated with her persona and literary reputation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)903-922
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of North African Studies
Volume17
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012

Keywords

  • Algerian Jews
  • French colonialism
  • authenticity
  • celebrity
  • women novelists

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