Room to Manoeuvre: Moving Beyond the Grotesque in Tierno Monénembo's Convivial Space



Grayson H (2020) Room to Manoeuvre: Moving Beyond the Grotesque in Tierno Monénembo's Convivial Space. Irish Journal of French Studies, 20 (1), pp. 98-123.

This article engages with Achille Mbembe's notion of the grotesque in two novels by Guinean author Tierno Monénembo: Les Crapauds-brousse (Paris: Seuil, 1979) and Les Écailles du ciel (Paris: Seuil, 1986). The article argues that Monénembo's aesthetics of mutedness and instability constitute a double dismantling of the dictator's staged power in these fictional worlds through reducing the presence of the dictator figure and accentuating the evidence of his failures. By drawing our attention to subtlety and insecurity, these novels demonstrate the limitations and failures of a grotesque stylistics of power. At the heart of these limitations is Mbembe's notion of 'mutual zombification', which here is contested by the negotiation of convivial space by those who are ruled. The texts' restraint of the dictator figures signals the inevitability of their decline, caught as they are in continuities of colonial rule that are bound to fail. Instability and decay, alongside silence and absence, constitute an alternative aesthetics that help to reveal the complexities of postcolonial space.

aesthetics; dictatorship; grotesque; Monenembo; mutedness; postcolonial

Publication date31/12/2020
Publication date online01/11/2020
Date accepted by journal01/11/2020
PublisherIrish Journal of French Studies

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Dr Hannah Grayson

Dr Hannah Grayson

Senior Lecturer, French