Anti-Saidian Approach to the Image of Morocco in Le Clézio’s Désert

Abdellatif El Aidi, University: Sidi Mohamed Ben Abdellah University, Morrocco, ID LLCE2017-120;        Abstract: As probably goes without saying, a great amount of academic ink has been spilt on the discussion of Edward Said’s masterpiece Orientalism, and yet the book, because of its importance, still needs to be thought about and investigated. In other words, although Said’s Orientalism was published in 1978, the book is still recognized as one of the most important texts which launch a harsh attack on the West’s construction of the Orient. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that in countries which were once colonized like mine (Morocco), younger students are more and more excited by Said’s seminal text because they find in its arguments an expression to what is in their hearts. However, despite the fact that Said’s Orientalism is a foundational text which inspires many researchers concerned with criticizing the discourse of Orientalism, many arguments of the book become problematic when applied to Le Clézio’s novel Désert. The purpose of this paper is twofold. Firstly, it aims at exploring the ways in which Le Clézio represents Morocco and its people in his novel. Secondly, it attempts to highlight the main points in Désert which problematize Said’s arguments and, therefore, make his whole thesis debatable. The paper sets out by presenting Said’s main arguments. The main body of the paper contains a comparative analysis of the different images which Le Clézio provides for both the Orient (Morocco) and the Occident (the city of Marseille). The concluding section summarizes the main findings and exhibits the major points in Le Clézio’s portrayal of Morocco which make Said’s arguments irrelevant and difficult to prove.

Key words: Orientalism, discourse, power-knowledge nexus, cultural hegemony, Morocco, French colonialism.