Skip to content

Remarks on So Vast The Prison by Assia Djebar

February 13, 2011

So Vast the Prison -- Goodreads

So Vast the Prison by Assia Djebar is a beautifully written tome.  It seems more than a novel, but a collection of stories and a soulfully written piece of literature about language, love, and, life for women in Algeria.  The copy I have was translated from original french by Betsy Wing.

The prose and word choice in this novel were eloquent and provided unique imagery.  Djebar knows well how to write things to convey strong and lasting images.

“The sun has returned; the light is delicate. […]  How — Seeing certain dim blues with hints of gray in them, the flat green of leaves on Barbary figs that bring out sudden, overlapping nuances — one wants to cover up and at the same time to float, eyelids half closed in this winter radiance.”

My favorite parts of this book were when Djebar went into history both family history and the history of language in Algeria.  I found these pieces in the book to be the most fascinating and intriguing.  She covers so much fascinating history from an ancient stele found in the desert to a traditional marriage in the 1800s.

“The letters of this alphabet, scattered on the ground like the bas-relief Roman chariots, the quadrigas and the winged goddesses from the dismantled monument of Dougga, seem to have fled by themselves, going all the way to the desert of Garamantes to slip into the sands and settle onto the immemorial rocks.”

Djebar covers so many facets of life and history in her novel that I don’t know how to explain and describe what I’ve read other than to say it was written in a style that was beautiful.  The language in this novel impressed me to a high degree and if you want to read something simply for beautiful images and lovely language this is a book to read.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 13, 2011 1:05 pm

    I am so happy that you read this book! I absolutely loved it and it fostered a lasting love of her works for me. I’ve still only read three to date but I am slowly working my way through the rest. I do hope that you read more by her 🙂

    • February 15, 2011 12:27 pm

      I’m glad I found out about her from you. Her writing is so beautiful and full of imagery. I definitely will go back and read more of her works, as she is truly an artist when it comes to using the written word.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: