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What fiction reveals about the Algerian War

Joseph Andras’s Tomorrow They Won't Dare to Murder Us stunned France when it was released—and also remains strikingly relevant to the national debates on colonialism today

By Rebecca Liu  

The story of Fernand Iveton soon became folded into national myth. Photo: The Print Collector / Alamy Stock Photo

In a little-known 1947 essay Humanism and Terror, the French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty argued that “a society is not the temple of value-idols that figure on the front of its monuments or in its constitutional scrolls; the value of a society is the value it places upon man’s relation to man.” He was critiquing what he saw as a grandstanding French liberalism, too infatuated with its ideals to see what was being carried out in its name. “To understand and judge a society,” he continued, “one has to penetrate its basic structure to the human bond upon which it…

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