Conference ” The feminine Francophony “
Organized the 26th march 2015 by the Lebanese University of Tripoli – Department of French Language and Literature
The transposed francophony
by Stéphanie NASSIF
Born in 1974 at Rennes (France), Stéphanie NASSIF, a french-lebanese writer, is between two civilizations, the East and the West. Respectfully and understanding, she tried to extract the essentiel wealth of this diversity. She retranscribes this experience through her books, mixture of cultures and meetings.
An identity « mosaic »
I would begin this conference with a citation from my first novel « La Lointaine, le sacrifice de la Nubie » :
The identity of each one results from his origins, the context in wich he lives and people he meets on his way.
In this mind, my own identity is a cultural mosaic. Indeed I am :
– French from my origins,
– Lebanese with my heart
– And french-lebanese with my mind.
Why french-lebanese ? Because I’m now between two civilizations, the East and the West. Respectfully and understanding, I tried to extract the essentiel wealth of this diversity from two different worlds. Through this original way (generally lebanese people wish to travel to France), I built my own identity as a result of cultural interconnexion.
From this so rich experience, I was able to draw a very simple conclusion : the identity of each one moves on during the life, according to the capacity of openness to the Other. I am the witness of this evolution. In order you can better understand, I will use a very simple image of tree :
My roots are french,
Today they feed on the fertile ground of the East
My fruits reached a full maturation, filled with the nectar of the diversity.
Books on the openness to the Other
I retranscribe the experience of the diversity through my novels, which are a mixture of cultures and meetings.
La Lointaine, le sacrifice de la Nubie
My first novel is entitled « La Lointaine, le sacrifice de la Nubie » (2010). The story begins in 1934, in the South of Egypt. Fargun, a young fourteen-year-old teenager, lives in a village of Nubia on the edges of the Nile. His life depends of the cycle of the seasons which ends with the floods of the river. But the rise of the level of the first dam built in 1902, then the realization in 1964 of an big lake in the South of Aswan is going to change the quiet life of nubian people.
I made a conference about this book at the Egyptian Embassy at Paris in 2011.
Qadisha, la vallée du silence
My second novel ” Qadisha, the valley of the silence ” (2012) was selected by the Lebanese Embassy in Paris for the literary prize « France Lebanon 2013 ». The story takes place between France and Lebanon. Marc is a young man living in South France. After having discovered a secret family, he travels to Lebanon, looking for its origins. He meets Toni who accepts to help him. A great complicity borns between the 2 men. This friendship rich in surprises brings them at the heart of Qadisha valley, which will give them the key of their mystery.
« Qadisha, the valley of the silence » enables the readers to discover Lebanon through Qadisha valley. It’s also a thriller : the key of the mystery is given only in the last pages.
Contributing to the promotion of the cultural and natural heritage of the Lebanon, “Qadisha” received a special award of the NDU during a colloquium on the writers who wrote on the North Lebanon.
What is the symbolic value of this novel ? Through this book, I wished to give to the readers my experience of the Lebanon. Indeed I noticed that the image of Lebanon since France remains linked to the civil war. It is through the view of bombarded Beirut that most of the french people consider this country. Nevertheless, for more than 10 years I know this country, I had the opportunity to discover that Lebanon is not reduced and must not be reduced to this image of the past. Lebanon a country of men and women who show an exceptional strength of life and resistance, in spite of the instability, the regular crises and the difficulties. Lebanon cannot leave indifferent, it draw the attention of each one who takes time to know it and tries to understand it.
Le trésor du temple de Melqart – l’héritage phénicien
My third novel is entitled ” The treasure of the Melqart temple – the phoenician heritage ” (march 2015). It is speaking about the construction of the Melqart temple in the time of Hiram The Big, king of Tyr, under the directives of an architect called Adoniram, at the head of an artisanal community. An historical thriller with an inexpected end, which values the phoenician heritage.
What is the symbolic value of this novel ? I wished to show that people, in spite of their cultural or religious differences, are able to unit their efforts to work to a common project.
Transposed Francophony, Francophony of exchanges
Which is the link between these books and « The feminine Francophony » which is the subject of this conference ?
I would first insist on the role of French as language of culture and communication. To prove it to you, here are some datas supplied by the International Organization of the Francophonie during the last Summit of the Francophony in Senegal on November 2014 :
– French is the 5th language the most spoken to the world with 274 million speakers today
– French is the 3rd language of business in the world
– French is the 4th language the most used on Internet
French, it is of course language of famous writers, poets, philosophers : Montaigne, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hugo, Baudelaire are some of them.
French, it is also the language of the culture : the french songs so romantic ; the french gastronomy recognized all over the world ; and don’t forget the french fashion synonym of elegance and luxury.
We cannot deny the importance of the Francophony all over the world. In my case, I would rather speak about transposed Francophony : indeed I’m french but I chose to live in Lebanon and to write on Lebanon, for french and lebanese readers. A Francophony of openness on the Other, which is a considerable asset in front of risk of cultural quartering and war of civilisations.
More and more, people are afraid of the Difference, because the Other does not act and think like us. We refuse the exchange with the Other Finally the difference is stigmatized by putting back to back incomparable value systems. We bring into conflict the cultures until quarter them. It is easier to reject the difference rather than to try to understand and accept it. Indeed try to understand the difference means to wonder on his own value system.
Actually, what can be the interest of the Francophony ? For me, the Francophony means exchange, as I show it in my different books. It is the discovery of Other by the link of french language, it is what allows me to understand him better, in his words and in his acts. I will give you a simple example : the differential use of the term “Thank you”. In France, we accustom our children to say thank you for everything. Thank you mom, thank you dad, thank you sir, etc. In Lebanon, the use of term “Thank you” is rather reserved for the foreign person, as a mark of respect. In the reduced family circle, this word is little used. Is it necessary to conclude that french people are more polished than the lebanese people ? Obviously not, it is only a differential use of words in the service of a specific culture.
To limit this cultural quartering, we need a bridge between East and West. In this mind, the Francophony is an essential link of the exchange. As transposed french-speaking writer, I am an element of this bridge and I try with my books to work on the opennesse on the Other. But as french-speaking students, you are also, dear students, the essential actors of this exchange. By the openness of your spirit on French culture, you have to play the role of translators between your culture and the one that you learn to discover through your literary studies.
We cannot let the world go so adrift, we have all to react. The opposition between the cultures is sterile, it does not allow to move forward. We have to learn again to accept the difference, to understand it.
As a conclusion, I chose to deliver to your reflection a quotation of my last novel, ” The treasure of the Melqart ” :
As soon as the Human an succeeds in overtaking the I to become WE, forgetting his resentment and his differences, he rises every day a little more towards the infinity.
I ask you to think actively in these few words and to wonder your heart about the necessity of working together at a better world.
Thank you of your attention and I am now at your disposal for your questions.