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The Artist’s Journey, or, the Journey as Art

The Artist’s Journey, or, the Journey as Art

Aesthetics and Ethics in Pèlerinage d’un artiste amoureux and Beyond

(p.305) Chapter Thirteen The Artist’s Journey, or, the Journey as Art
Abdelkébir Khatibi
Jane Hiddleston
Liverpool University Press

Khatibi’s notion of the ‘étranger professionnel’, well known for its conceptualisation in Figures de l’étranger dans la littérature française and for its dramatisation in Un Eté à Stockholm, is a compelling signifier for his commitment to transnational thinking. This chapter will explore how his later, and perhaps most accomplished novel, Pèlerinage d’un artiste amoureux, gives fuller expression to the association between travel, creativity, cultural dialogue and free thinking that runs throughout his work. Based on the life of the author’s grandfather, the narrative traces the sculptor’s journey of pilgrimage to Mecca as well as his continued journeying around Morocco and through life. The artist’s aesthetic vision is explored throughout through his encounters with other cultures, through his reflections on history and on religion, and through his relationships with women. All the multiple dimensions of Khatibi’s previous works come to play in this novel, from anticolonialism to the critique of theocracy, and from transnationalism to spiritual communality, but it is significant that it is art – a figure also for Khatibi’s own literary writing – that shapes and enhances the protagonist’s mode of apprehending these issues. The text can be read in many ways as a synthesis and elaboration of Khatibi’s multiple philosophical preoccupations, which at the same time are reunited here in the work’s depiction of the creative vision.

Keywords:   Khatibi, postcolonialism, decolonisation, transnationalism, transcolonial, aesthetics, sociology, Islam, Maghreb, Morocco, travel, stranger, art, sign, literature, philosophy, translation, bilingualism, Mediterranean, language, performativity, Palestine, alterity, Derrida, Hassoun, Segalen, Tanizaki, Japan, semiology, carpet, spiritual, poetics, ethics

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