In post-war France, literary representations of sub-Saharan Africa were written and read in response to political, aesthetic, and commercial imperatives. A greater number of these representations appeared in the late 1950s and early 1960s from a flourishing African literary scene which built consciously on the achievements of black writers in France during the inter-war years and as French publishers responded to growing – if still very limited – interest among metropolitan readers. The literary field of this period was gradually reconfigured by decolonization and its destabilizing effect on ideas of literary value and authority and their, often unconscious, attachment to the French national imaginary. This is seen in the degree of meaning attached to African authorship by readers, attitudes towards the French language, and editorial mediations of literary style. Whether explicitly engaged with the complex political realities of decolonization, affirming black cultural identities, or reproducing colonial stereotypes of exotic difference, decisions were made regarding the form, content, and material production of a very wide range of texts. What emerges is a complex portrait of the French-language publishing scene during the so-called ...
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