Literary recognition comprises a good part of the fourth volume of Les Lieux de mémoire, published in 1986. This essay proposes a postcolonial revisiting of literary institutions such as the Académie française or scholarly classics previously addressed in this volume – according to both the chronological and adversarial meanings of the term ‘postcolonial’. It reevaluates the status of those territories that were politically dominated outside the borders of the Hexagon within such realms of literary heritagization by expanding the edges of the nation as it had been envisioned. The French literary canon is home to a range of authors who accepted the colonial order as something that was not to be questioned, and even that should be vigorously defended, but also to writers who were inhabitants of (formerly) colonized territories. The marks of literary prestige obtained by authors from (ex)imperial territories, from the award of a Goncourt Prize to election to the Collège de France, are often determined by decisive conditions, such as the place of publication of literary works, the cultural resources of these writers, and the wider French political environment. This essay highlights the existence of silences and instances of marginalization in national literary heritage, as well as long-term demonstrations of resistance in the face of this colonial or neocolonial order.
Keywords: Literary institutions, Consecration, Colonial literature, Literary prizes, Académie française, Agrégation, Collège de France, Léopold Sédar Senghor, Léonora Miano, Alain Mabanckou, Dany Laferrière
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