The Politically Incorrect and Its Limits in Late Twentieth-Century Youth Literature
Rome, l’Enfer by Malika Ferdjoukh
This article reflects on the contours and limits of the extremely complex and unstable notion of ‘politically correctness’ in contemporary youth literature, based on the study of Malika Ferdjoukh’s French novel Rome, l’Enfer. This novel for adolescents, which was published in 1995 by L’Ecole des Loisirs (Medium collection) and which shocked many readers at the time, is in many ways politically incorrect – in terms of the themes addressed (social violence, drugs, etc.), the structure of the story (a descent into hell ending with the death of the young protagonist), and the highly critical discourse on literature, which is allegedly incapable of preparing young people to face the ‘real’ world. Nevertheless, the article will show that this book, which in many ways is ‘politically incorrect’, does not give up its educational purpose.