S. V. PROZHOGINA
Doctor of Philological Sciences
TO MARK THE 55TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE BEGINNING OF THE NATIONAL LIBERATION WAR IN ALGERIA
Why do they remember the War? Why do people remember wars for so long? Probably, mainly because, while experiencing the time of human suffering, they should no longer be allowed to experience the very suffering caused by the death of relatives and friends, the destruction of the space of life, the loss of freedom, and the reign of fear. The war is merciless. The war is terrible. And not only in the destruction of the familiar reality surrounding a person (the metaphor of this nightmare, as a clot of it, is in Picasso's "Guernica", and in the dissonances of Ravel's "Grand Waltz", and "March" from Shostakovich's VII Symphony-you can't write it better, you can't express it, you can't convey it...). - and in anticipation of fear, in the horror of silence after the wail of the siren (air alarm), fear for their lives and for the lives of loved ones who have gone to fight. Anyone who knows will understand. And anyone who remembers knows how merciless memory is.
I still remember our war more than sixty years later, and therefore I understand those who do not stop bearing witness to its nightmare in one way or another, cannot forget about it, remembers what it was done in the name of.
Maissa Bey (born 1950), an Algerian woman, also remembers her war for half a century. (But her War is not alien to me either: I lived in Algeria, which has just come out of this ordeal.) She saw the face of war when she was about seven. I really experienced all the suffering that fell to the lot of her family when I learned, already an adult, that her father was martyred. He, a secondary school teacher in a small town in southern Algeria, was captured by French soldiers, tortured into giving up the names and addresses of other "rebels" who were participating in the Algerian general strike, and then shot without trial, "while trying to escape", like other men in his family, they piled the corpses in a truck and took them to the mountains, so that the partisans could "clearly" see what kind of reprisal awaits them...
The mother kept her husband's photographs, his letters from "peaceful times", and a notice issued to him by the inspector of the Algerian Academy of Education about his appointment as a secondary school teacher in Bogari. The French then valued their cadres from the" local " intelligentsia, who spoke fluently both in their and "their" languages: not all colonizers-missionaries who tried to assimilate the "natives"were able to communicate in the outback with the children of Arabs and Kabyles.
And although in itself a good task of universal introduction of the colonized to Western civilization had the ultimate goal of educating citizens who were consciously obedient to the will of the new owners of the earth, colonial "acculturation" turned out to be a completely different side for colonialism, accelerating awareness in the colonized of their own and other people's differences, understanding the incompatibility of their own and other people's interests on this her captors. The capture of Algeria took place more than a hundred years before the outbreak of the War of independence (1954-1962), and such a long patience of the Algerians, apparently, encouraged the French, who stubbornly pursued a policy of "introducing" them to their civilization...
But such a slow maturation of political consciousness led the people of Algeria to a powerful explosion of widespread discontent and to a sharp response from the French: a bloody struggle began between "rebels" who went into the mountains and became partisans fighting the regular French army.1
Documentary facts of the biography of the writer M. Bey, one way or another, are reflected in her work and became the basis of conflict in her story " Hear, Mountains!.."2, written to remind the Algerian War to a generation that not only does not know the whole truth about it, but how two worlds that lived for a century on the same land, where each of them considered it "their own" and fought for their space, stood to the death against each other. And now, more than half a century later, the French who returned from Algeria, not having forgiven the" shame " of France's departure from North Africa, are nostalgic for this land, for "its sun", calling it their homeland.3
It is no accident, therefore, that one of the characters in Maissa Bey's novel " Hear, Mountains!", an elderly Frenchman, recalling his participation in the Algerian War (he, then twenty years old, was sent from France to the front in Algeria to fight for his Homeland), reproduces in his memory not only the brutal images of reprisals against the rebels, but also the memory of the and "snatches" of those songs with which the French soldiers who fought for the freedom of France encouraged themselves:
"It's us! 4
From distant colonies!..
We have risen fiercely
to defend the Country!
Let the valleys hear
rumble of the
What was said above about the French"Africans" explains both the "ferocity" of their "march" ("marche feroce"), the cruelty and protracted nature of the war with Algeria, and the meaning of protecting the "country" (pays), understood as France in its entirety with its "overseas territories".
Who was called during the war in Algeria "Atlas Bandits", " Night Lions "(titles of books by the Algerian novelist A. Bunemer 5)? Partisans who fought in the mountains, whose "ambushes" and night " sorties "were the main threat to the French soldiers who conducted" sweeps "of mountain villages, from where the"partisan trails" came... All the Algerian literature about the War of independence, all the poetry, all the folklore of those "fiery years"is about this. Starting with Kaddur M'hamsaji's Silence of Ashes, 6 including M. Dib's Dance of Death, 7 up to R. Bujedra's The Rift, 8 and today's books about this War, including M. Bey's novella Hear, Mountains. The mountains in modern Algerian literature have become a symbol of the most partisan struggle against the colonizers, oppressors of the people of this land (you can't call them "strangers"or "outsiders", except in the existential sense that Albert Camus, himself "originally from Algeria", gave the hero of his famous novel "Alien"9).
The war ended after almost eight years - long, bloody, mutually violent. Now, remembering that time, the Frenchman who found himself in the same train compartment with the heroine of the story by M. Bey, an Algerian (he understood this immediately: not only by the dark skin, but also by the characteristic Kabyle earrings - and he well remembered the land where he once fought), realizes this in full:
"...This, of course, was his war. Real. Although there was a real war in his father's life, too. And he went to it to fight for the motherland and sang "La Marseillaise"... As my grandfather sang it in the First World War, as many other generations of Frenchmen, who sometimes fell into the tragic traps of History, sang it... Yes, he was only twenty, and there was a war in his life, too... Real... As real and as terrible as any of the others. All wars are terrible in the eyes of those who participate in them. And those who lead in the name of God or Civilization, Homeland or Freedom, or Revolution... Only the epithets change: religious, great, liberation, aggressive, civil wars... No matter which side you are fighting on, you need to constantly convince yourself that it is your side that is right, that you are fighting in the name of a righteous cause, and that violence and cruelty are sometimes necessary, they are necessary in war... The main thing is not to ask yourself too many questions... Battlefields are always littered with the corpses of heroes... And you must go to your death, singing victory marches, carrying your banner high and proud... Otherwise...
... Damn war! Dirty war! But are there any pure wars? Except in the mouths of those who rant about the war in offices or salons, at meetings or under the flashes of cameras or the light of spotlights for filming in movies..." (pp. 52-53).
He will remember these sufferings, and how he tortured, and how he killed, and how he shot, and how he dumped corpses from the truck in the forest, and how he himself suffered from the heat and mercilessly scorching sun in summer, and the winter cold in the mountains, from the pain in his legs when walking on the rocks of mountain paths, sharp burns of herbs and pricks with thorns of thorny bushes... From the fear of the unknown, the unexpected blows of the enemy, from shame for the "evil" committed by him and his comrades, for the immeasurable suffering of people who endure torture and humiliation of human dignity... Memory, as it turned out, kept visions of War in its depths, and they were stuck there almost "untouched" by time and attempts to forget the general past.
...Paradoxically, almost all modern Algerian emigration (political, mainly, in contrast to the "labor" - the beginning and middle of the XX century) moved to France, where the hated colonialists who were ousted by the "rebels" also left. But where else? One thing in common-the sea, one civilization that united all the "Mediterranean people", one language that became almost native, like Kabyle or Arabic. (I will note, by the way, that many colonists, pieds-noirs, the French especially, knew, depending on the area where they managed, one or another language of Algeria...) "Shelter", however, turned out to be not particularly hospitable (this is understandable - "there are too many "Arabs"in the country") and not particularly reliable (not everyone forgot about the "shame of France's withdrawal" from Algeria, not everyone forgave the Algerians, and not everyone was "written off" for the war).
Among the" ordinary "French," philistines " (and in fact the majority of such people!) it is widely believed, and with good reason, that many of today's " troubles "(theft, drug addiction, hooliganism, street fights, urban "riots" - car burnings, broken windows, etc., etc. - how much is written and talked about every fall or spring!) they are connected with the "Arabs". But how else?
Even if they, these" Arabs", were already born here, but they still study worse than other children (after all, they have to speak Arabic at home!), live in poor neighborhoods, on the outskirts, in densely populated houses and neighborhoods, their parents earn little (even if they think that they collect money here "manna from heaven" in comparison with the poverty and unemployment from which they fled from their country...), and therefore these "children of the outskirts" take revenge
the society that has allowed their outcastness, their "second-classness", their" extra " energy for them, which finds its outlet in skirmishes boiling with revenge and hatred, organized pogroms, street riots... They are caught, beaten, even expelled from the country, threatened with "cleansing" of all immigrant ghettos (and such things happen!), the establishment of a "safe haven" in the country.strict quotas" for all North African (and African in general) immigrants arriving and arriving in the country... You can't punish everyone, you can't put them in prison, you can't expel them from the country (it will be without "labor"...). And they, the" Arabs", know this, but they continue to demonstrate their "difference" with others, forgetting about the "hospitality" of the "receiving" society?..10
So in Maissa Bey's story, it was the "Arabs" who were first thought of by a passenger whose bag someone wanted to steal... Once again, the word" Arabs " sounded like a wake - up call for the heroine, bringing down on her not only a new wave of almost forgotten fear of war, but also the sharpness of a sudden feeling of absolute alienation to the French fellow travelers sitting next to her...
Although, as it turned out (in the almost implausible drama of the story, where the daughter of the "martyr" of that war and his executioner were sitting peacefully opposite each other in the same compartment), it is the inexhaustible memory of the common past in the soul of different and alien people that connects them in the present tense, still filled with echoes the Fire that had scorched their lives one way or another. The generation of "friends" and "strangers" who fought on the same land, and the generation that fled from" their " enemies to the former enemies of their land, remembering the lives sacrificed to the war of "different" worlds (the heroine - her father, her neighbor in the compartment - her comrades), obviously hate the war itself as such. He-for the fear of death," live " seen on the faces of those who were interrogated and shot at; for the shame of humiliating a Person, for realizing the senselessness of the suffering caused to him. It is for the pain of loss, for the country again drenched in blood, which never "cleansed" in it and failed to protect its own freedom, which was once obtained by "those who went to the mountains"...
And although the fellow traveler guessed (and then, on leaving the train, said that he "recognized her by her eyes") that she was the daughter of the very Algerian teacher whom he, "an officer who carried out orders," "had to question once" (and he was surprised then, that he, the Arab, speaks "almost without an accent"...), - he left after this chance meeting with the daughter of his former enemy, not as an enemy, but as a man who has experienced torments of conscience, who understands the very absurdity of the war of people...
His neighbor in the compartment also guessed from his "Algerian" memories that this man could not be unaware of the death of her father, and perhaps even somehow involved in his murder. A fellow traveler confirmed that he "knew her town", where she was from, that he really fought with the "rebels". But all that she had experienced again, all that she had heard, and even as if seen through his eyes, and almost confirmed her guess, did not kindle in her a fire of hatred or revenge. But the embers still burning, under the ashes of the hopes and illusions of a War-torn past, burned away the curtain of silence that had first reigned in the compartment where three such different passengers happened to be.
Third in the compartment was a young girl named Maria. And she, listening to the difficult dialogue of memories of her older fellow travelers, realized that she knew nothing about Algeria, except "like someone's stories about its bright sun", "blue sea" and the indescribable beauty of its valleys and mountains... And, perhaps, about the fact (my grandfather told me!) that there is "luxury fishing". That was all Maria knew in addition to her school geography lessons... But a young, "athletic-looking" girl, suddenly (and accidentally) coming into contact with the story told by its participants and eyewitnesses, suddenly realized the insidiousness of the design that reigned in her country of "silence" of the true Past of both her homeland and the homeland of the woman who shuddered at the word "Arabs!" and her " compatriot"whose youth was spent in the nightmare of waiting for Death and revenge in Algeria...
To know about the "shame of colonialism", about the loss of Africa, about the shame of defeat in the Algerian War-this is, perhaps, for" young Frenchmen " and not necessarily: why grieve their current prosperous and decent existence? Without wars, almost without colonies and other embarrassing circumstances, living under the banner of Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood of people... But you can't really believe, "Maria was indignant," that young people's ignorance of the very recent Past of their country is only "on the conscience" of textbooks, schools, television and radio! Where do generations of fathers and grandfathers look? Into the Future? But how can it be created by those who do not know the truth about what people fought for and how, what torments they suffered, and why "any war is a deception and horror"?..
The satellites will separate, each leaving at its own station. But if the two of them are still destined to live the rest of their lives with the burden of memories of the past that bound their peoples and threw the threads of this bitter but close connection into the present, then Mary will have to face a new day, getting rid of her "blindness" and the "dumbness" of the world around her. Perhaps the Knowledge of human suffering gained along the way will be salutary for her and her generation, which will have a road to the Future. With what ideals will it enter this unknown Distance of Time?
...It seems to me that the writer did not choose the name Maria for the girl by chance, just as it was not by chance
In her story, she entrusted it to a woman to awaken and transmit the Memory of the Past, to keep it in the Present and try to extend it into the Future. Mary's inadvertent knowledge of the brutality of human Warfare was given to her "for salvation", in order to save the future world from the suffering of war in general. As in the womb of that Mary, the Savior of mankind, conceived by the creator of the world, was immaculately conceived, bequeathed to him only Love...
It is women writers, Maissa Bey among them, who are trying to "clean up" the remaining space of Life with the memory of their fathers, of the high ideals of the struggle for Independence, to make the Mountains hear, to make them believe that the whole country cannot plunge into the" sleep of reason "that gave rise to" integrist madness", that darkness is inevitable The Light of a new day will also dissipate and save people from the monster of War. Hear them, Mountains!...
1 In which, it should be noted, there were many Algerian recruits: poverty forced them to serve as soldiers, saving their families who remained in the villages from starvation with a meager income. Algeria, freed from the power of the colonialists, will not forgive any surviving "harki" - an Algerian soldier of the French army, even understanding the reasons for such a "split" among the common people. Their public executions in the first years of independence only inflamed the degree of patriotism. Maissa Bey, a French-language writer, the daughter of a teacher who taught at a "secular" school established by the French and who gave her life in the War of independence, had to leave her native country during the years of Islamist terror (in the late 1980s), which was associated with both political and economic reasons (see, for example, Assia Jebar's book "The White Mourning of Ajir" - Djebar A. Le blanc de l'Algerie. P., 1996).
Bey M. 2 Entendez - vous dans les montagnes... P., 2002.
3 A lot has been written about the fate of the "black-footed" French ("pieds-noirs"), and this is a separate problem in the history and culture of France. (Bestseller 2008 in France - novel by Yasmina Khadra (pseudonym of the famous Algerian M. Messeul) "Ce que le jour doit a la nuit" ("What the day owes to the night") is dedicated precisely to the tragedy of the break between the French and Algeria.) But it is interesting that young ethnic North Africans, Algerians, especially those living in France already in the second or even third generation, who come from immigrant families, relate their fate to the fate of the "pieds-noirs", who continue to call themselves "Algerians" not only by birth, but also "by vocation" (see, for example., Azuz Begag's novella "The Island of those who come from here" - Begag A. L'ile des gens d'ici. P., 2006).
4 The French army included not only" metropolitan " French, but also "local" inhabitants of colonies of European origin, including "native" representatives of "overseas lands" - Moroccans, Algerians, Senegalese, Cameroonians, etc. All of them called themselves "Africans".
Bounemeur A. 5 Les Bandits de l'Atlas. P., 1983; Les lions de la nuit. P., 1985.
M'Hamsadji K. 6 Le silence des cendres. P., 1954.
Dib M. 7 La danse du Roi. P., 1968.
Boudjedra R. 8 Le dementelement. P., 1982.
9 The name "L'Etranger" is best translated as "Outsider", which highlights the degree of alienation that existed between the Algerian" Arabs " and the French.
10 For the seriousness and drama of the problem of cultural and social differences between immigrants and the surrounding" context "of France, which often leads to political tension, see the collection of articles "Polyethnic Societies". IV RAS, 2004.
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