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The Maghrebi Flâneur, or The Wanderer of The Medina, in Ahmed al-Madini’s Fās . . . Law ʿĀdat Ilayh
My paper focuses on the experience of the medina stroll by the Maghrebi flâneur, or the “medinant” (according to Réda Bensmaïa’s usage of the term), as represented in Ahmed al-Madini’s Fās . . . Law ʿādat ilayh (2003) (If Fez Returned to Him). In this novel, wandering through the alleys of the historic district of Fez is organized through syntactic composition. I propose that in this fictional journey, the author invites readers to explore a system of physical effects that makes the experience of the historical and memorial Medina almost real, as in a documentary film. This exploration of the historic district relies on a sensory system that allows the Maghrebi stroller to apprehend his/her environment. The author uses language, including expressions in local vernacular, to create the illusion that readers are living the experience of the stroller, of inserting themselves into this space, of perceiving smells and discovering tastes, of hearing sounds, of seeing images and colors, of glimpsing the interplay of light and shadow, and of feeling the physical contact with passers-by. Drawing on Michel de Certeau’s notion of everyday practices in texts, I argue that the spatial syntax of the narrative and the sensory experience allow readers to explore the Medina through a panoramic image. As in a real shot, the author creates the illusion of the protagonist moving in real time to allow readers to follow the stroller in movement and connect with the geography of these historical places to reproduce an authentic atmosphere of the Medina that reflects the traditional practices and ancestral culture of this imperial city.
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