Our Lady of the Nile: A Novel by Scholastique Mukasonga

By Scholastique Mukasonga

For her most modern paintings and primary novel - Notre-Dame du Nil, initially released in March 2012 with Gallimard in French - Mukasonga immerses us in a faculty for younger women, known as "Notre-Dame du Nil." the ladies are despatched to this highschool perched at the ridge of the Nile on the way to develop into the female elite of the rustic and to flee the hazards of the surface international. The booklet is a prelude to the Rwandan genocide and unfolds at the back of the closed doorways of the varsity, within the interminable wet season. Friendships, wants, hatred, political fights, incitation to racial violence, persecutions... the college quickly turns into a desirable existential microcosm of the real Nineteen Seventies Rwanda.

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Extra resources for Our Lady of the Nile: A Novel

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In fact, when this kind of conflation occurs in private, nonpolitical human speech, and where it is unaccompanied by physical brutality, when, say, a jealous lover or a terrified parent asks questions and asserts the answers in a way that rocks between utterly self-sufficient conviction and a pleading need of the listener's crediting or confirmation, the person may well be involved in the response to the very extent of his or her being. But as the content and context of the torturer's questions make clear, the fact that something is asked as if the content of the answer matters does not mean that it matters.

These physical realities, an annihilating negation and an absence of negation, are therefore translated into verbal realities in order to make the in­ visible distance visible, in order to make what is taking place in terms of pain take place in terms of power, in order to shift what is occurring exclusively in the mode of sentience into the mode of self-extension and world. The torturer's questions—asked, shouted, insisted upon, pleaded for—objectify the fact that he has a world, announce in their feigned urgency the critical importance of that world, a world whose asserted magnitude is confirmed by the cruelty it is able to motivate and justify.

It is in part this world-ridding, path-clearing logic that explains the obsessive presence of pain in the rituals of large, widely shared religions as well as in the imagery of intensely private visions, that partly explains why the crucifixion of Christ is at the center of Christianity, why so many primitive forms of worship climax in pain ceremonies, why Bronte's Wuthering Heights is built on the principle first announced in Lockwood's dream that the pil­ grim's staff is also a cudgel, why even Huysmans's famous dandy recognizes in his sieges of great pain a susceptibility to religious conversion, why in the brilliant ravings of Artaud some ultimate and essential principle of reality can be compelled down from the heavens onto a theatre stage by the mime of cru­ elty, why, though it occurs in widely different contexts and cultures, the me­ taphysical is insistently coupled with the physical with the equally insistent exclusion of the middle term, world.

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