Voicing the Perpetrator’s Perspective Translation and Mediation in Jean Hatzfeld’s Une Saison de machettes
Keywords: Rwanda, Genocide, Testimony, Perpetrator’s perspective, Voice, Narrative, Ethics.
Since the 1980s, French literature has taken a ‘historical’ turn, refocusing on the important events that have shaped the way we think about the world today, and on the personal experience of people who witnessed them. Dominique Viart, an influential literary critic and co-author of a ‘history’ of contemporary French literature (Viart et al. 2008), has perceptively noted that French literature has abandoned in large measure the structuralist and avant-gardist formal experiments of the 1960s and 1970s to engage in what used to be the territory of the social sciences. He argues that contemporary literature has become ‘spectral’ and ‘critical’, showing a remarkable historical awareness not only of history in general but also of its own, literary, traditions. Accordingly, the ‘return’ of the Subject and of History in the text cannot consist of a simple restitution of traditional engaged literature as it was once conceived by Sartre. Rather, these issues reappear as urgent, yet unresolved, questions which form a constant inspiration for writers – sometimes even the very raison d’être of their literature.