Womanism in Crépuscule du tourment: Mélancolie by Léonora Miano





womanism, identity crisis, alienation, Léonora Miano, afrocentrism


In this article we examine the notion of womanism as portrayed in the 2016 novel Crépuscule du tourment: Mélancolie (Twilight of Torment: Melancholy) by the Franco-Cameroonian author Léonora Miano . We explore how four female characters are subjected to discrimination on various levels: racial, sexist, and even linked to social divisions. We furthermore trace the religious, historical, cultural and sexual aspects of the identity crisis that each character undergoes. The tales by these four voices depicting their suffering and different defence strategies finally point to the womanism of the author herself which this article aims to discuss drawing on a range of definitions provided by scholars such as bell hooks, Molara Ogundipe-Leslie and Alice Walker. Our reading of the novel focusses on the mechanisms of resistance (exploration of homosexual relations, recourse to afrocentricity) deployed by these female characters in an environment where neither Western feminism nor activism seem to respond to the complexity of their alienation. Miano’s heroines attempt to reconstruct their identities in terms of culture, territory, the other and the “self”. Their revolt and courage to speak out constitute acts of self-determination. This emancipatory quest leads to a form of hybridity that embraces both modernity and traditional values, with its myths and customs, and which results in a reconstructed and plural identity. It also constitutes an approach by an African author that embraces both a return to the self and an openness to the outside world.


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Author Biographies

Madeleine Tonleu, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Madeleine Tonleu affiliated with the Department of Ancient and Modern Languages and Cultures in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa.

Annamarie de Beer, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa

Anna-Marie de Beer is a senior lecturer in the Department of Ancient and Modern Languages and Cultures in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa. She works on the memorialisation of the Rwandan genocide and francophone literature.

Elisabeth Snyman, Northwest University, Potchefstroom, South Africa

Elisabeth Snyman is a retired professor from the Department of French Studies, School of Languages, in the Faculty of Humanities, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. She works on French and francophone autobiography and autofiction.


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How to Cite

Tonleu, M., de Beer, A., & Snyman, E. (2022). Womanism in Crépuscule du tourment: Mélancolie by Léonora Miano. Tydskrif Vir Letterkunde, 59(2), 59–70. https://doi.org/10.17159/tl.v59i2.13047



Research articles