International Journal of
English and Literature

  • Abbreviation: Int. J. English Lit.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 2141-2626
  • DOI: 10.5897/IJEL
  • Start Year: 2010
  • Published Articles: 253

Article in Press

Bearing Witness and Documenting Suffering in Two Moroccan Prison Memoirs: Tazmamart: The Cell No. 10 and Memoirs of Mohamed Al-Raiss, From Skhirat to Tazmamart: A Round Trip Ticket to Hell

ElhamTaha Hussein

  •  Received: 16 September 2015
  •  Accepted: 11 January 2016
This paper compares and contrasts two Moroccan prison memoirs: Tazmamart: The Cell No. 10 and Memoirs of Mohamed Al-Raiss,From Skhirat to Tazmamart: A Round Trip Ticket to Hellby AhmedMarzouki and Mohamed Al-Raiss respectively. The memoirs under discussion can be divided into three major parts: the first contextualizes and discusses the abortive coups against King Hassan II of Morocco in 1971 and 1972 and details the events of the coups, the investigations, trials and executions of the alleged participants. The second is the longest and includes a painstakingly detailed description of the gruesome conditions of the prison of Tazmamart known as "Home of Death," the ruthless forms of psychological and physical punishment the two authors were subjected to along with 56 other prisoners and the horrid circumstances in which each of the 32 prisoners who could not withstand the absence of the basic needs for survival perished. The third part is concerned with the post-prison experience: the transitional phase, reunion with family, problems in adapting to the new circumstances, challenges, achievements and continuous suffering. After almost 30 years of silence, Marzouki and Al-Raiss published their memoirs in French first, and then in Arabic and other languages to great public acclaim. The two memoirs, despite many similarities, represent two fundamentally different ways of conveying the same story - and neither is worse, or better. Since these memoirs are simultaneously political and literary, points of comparison and contrast will include the background to publication and translation, memoir covers, the three main sections, objectives for writing, the narrators’ voices and styles.

Keywords: memoir, bearing witness, suffering, Morocco, Tazmamart