In 1966, a small group of Moroccan poets, artists, and intellectuals launched Souffles, a quarterly review that would over time become at once a vehicle for cultural renewal and an instigator of efforts to promote social justice in the Maghreb. From its very first issue, Souffles was a unique experiment, a Moroccan and Maghrebi effort to liberate the country’s intellectual framework from fetid provincialism and lingering colonial complexes. It was a cri de coeur, a rebellion against the artistic status quo, a manifesto for a new aesthetics, even a new worldview. Its trademark cover, emblazoned with an intense black sun, radiated rebellion.
A decade earlier, the French protectorate of Morocco had managed to secure its independence as a kingdom while Paris concentrated on retaining neighboring Algeria, where a war of independence was just beginning. Muhammad V, Morocco’s new king and former sultan, and the unlikely hero of the nationalist movement, began to consolidate political power against the backdrop of the Cold War. Leftists battled conservatives for control of the nationalist movement, while Crown Prince Hassan maneuvered to position himself as the ultimate political arbiter of the young country.