Complicity with Orientalism in third-world women's writing: Fatima Mernissi's fictive memoirs

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Mernissi's autobiography, Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood, was first published in English. Labeled as a memoir, this text is clearly written with a "Western" audience in mind, witness the explanatory footnotes (which vary between the French and English versions). Though Mernissi did not do the French translation herself, she revised and adapted it. This article examines the differences between Mernissi's French and English vesions of her autobiography in the context of third-world autobiographies for the first-world market. The most telling difference between both versions is a footnote added to the French that puts into question the very genre to which the narrative claims to belong. In the light of recent scandals involving fictitious narratives marketed as autobiographies in the U.S., this paper examines the implications of reading and teaching Mernissi's memoirs in the post 9/11 context.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-49
Number of pages20
JournalResearch in African Literatures
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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